By Sandi Latimer
When anyone wanted to know anything about the Hilltop, the answer was always “Call Lois.”
But since the death of Lois Neff, “Now I have to find someone else,” said Dick Hoffman, a board member of the Hilltop Historical Society, one of the many organizations Neff belonged to.
Hoffman and about 60 other people gathered in the library at West High School on April 30, to pay tribute to Neff, who, as many said, “knew more about the Hilltop than anyone else.”
Lois was a 1955 graduate of West High School and on May 13, 1956, married Carl (Joe) Neff. They raised five children on the Hilltop.
Nadine Whiteman’s family knew Lois “forever,” she said.
“One of Mom and Dad’s first events was attending her wedding.”
Whiteman remembered Lois had a “phenomenal memory” and “if you wanted to know anything about the church, the library, schools, businesses, just ask Lois.”
Another historical society board member, Earl “Wimpy” Potts spoke about the lengthy years of service Lois performed with the column in the Westside Messenger, “Our Pictorial Past.”
“I contributed information for a couple of her columns,” he said. “I was thrilled to do so.”
A bronzed plaque on display was of a page from the Westside edition of the Columbus Messenger from Jan. 16, 1995, recognizing her on her 500th “Our Pictorial Past” column.
Potts also recalled the time an Olympic torch was being run across the country. He wanted it to go through the Hilltop and past the home where Jesse Owens lived when he won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics.
He related that he had talked to Lois about it and together they went to City Hall to ask if the torch route could be redesigned.
“It was one of the biggest thrills in my life,” he said about the new route going down Oakley Avenue.
He also spoke about the ball diamonds the city is building in the new park off South Wilson Road.
“I’d like to ask the city to name one of them for Lois,” Potts said.
Former State Rep. Michael Stinziano said he knew Lois for 45 years and that she played a major role in so many things.
Historical Society President David Dobos recalled her as a founding member of the society, as well as one of the original members on the Greater Hilltop Area Commission.
Spread out on tables throughout the library was the myriad awards, certificates and plaques Lois had received for her community service work. One table held wedding photos as well as Girl Scout memorabilia. Elsewhere were photos of roller skating and the swimming pool.
“Mom was always involved,” said her son Mitch, speaking for the extended Neff family. “It was with the PTA, the band, the church, the community. She felt it was her responsibility to give back to the community.”