Former Franklin man dies at 105

Published 10:00 am Friday, February 11, 2011

FRANKLIN—At age 102, LaVerne Pickles took low-impact aerobics twice a week at the James L. Camp Jr. YMCA in Franklin, and still drove, traded stocks online and played the drums.


Pickles died Tuesday at 105. His stepson, Doug Boyce, the recently retired president of Paul D. Camp Community College, said Pickles requested that his body be donated to medical research.

“I’m not surprised,” said Maggie Evans, who was Pickles’ aerobics instructor at the YMCA for five years. “He was just a very generous, big-hearted man with a spirit and heart that I loved.”

Boyce said it was something Pickles and his first wife, whom Pickles outlived by 27 years after their 58-year marriage, had always wanted to do.

“I think it’s a wonderful option,” Boyce said. “Obviously, medical students are heavily dependent on cadavers for training.”

Pickles’ body will be going to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, which is ranked among the best in the nation.

“Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is extremely appreciative of the body donation,” said Jessica Studeny, assistant director of communications. “It’s wonderful to have been chosen from among the various medical schools which offer donation programs.”

Born in Jackson, Mich., on Sept. 4, 1905, Pickles in his early years sold advertising for city directories in Chicago. In his later years, he worked for the wholesale lumber and hardware industry.

His first wife, Marjorie, passed in 1984. Pickles later married Edna Boyce, who is Doug Boyce’s mother.

When Boyce came to Franklin in 2002 to oversee PDCCC, his mother had been gone for four years, but Boyce invited his stepfather to stay with them. Pickles lived in Franklin from 2003 to 2008.

That’s when he took aerobics at the YMCA; at age 97, he became Evans’ all-time oldest student.

“I was a little nervous the first day,” she said. “I was told, ‘You have a student coming and he’s 97.’ I slowed down the first day. He kept right with us. I didn’t slow down anymore. He was up and down, off the floor, everything we did. He was very faithful and hardly ever missed.”

On his 100th birthday, the YMCA gave Pickles a lifetime membership.

“He was bound and determined to use it for many years,” Boyce said.

At age 102, Pickles’ fell and broke his hip. The family decided it was best to place him in a nursing home in the Canton, Ohio, area, where Pickles’ son lives.

Boyce attributed Pickles long life to eating healthy, exercise, good genes and an extremely positive outlook on life.

“His glass was always half full and was always looking for and found the best in everyone,” Boyce said.