(Obituary for Ermel Alcides “Mike” Arias)
Major Ermel Alcides “Mike” Arias Chavez, of Canton, PA, died peacefully on February 7, 2018, at Troy Community Hospital after a long illness. The son of Victor Arias Cox and Etelvina Chavez de Arias, Ermel was born in Quito, Ecuador, on December 16, 1933. Ermel had to leave school after tenth grade to help support his family. To complete his secondary education, he attended the Abraham Lincoln Night School in Quito and worked during the day at the Department of Defense, where he learned to type and do clerical work. Education was always very important to Ermel. After graduating from high school, he attended the National Military Academy of Ecuador for four years and graduated in 1955 as Second Lieutenant. Ermel was stationed in the Amazonian jungle for several years to protect the border with Peru and then taught at the Military Academy. He was a member of the Ecuadorean Cavalry, where he excelled in Equestrian Competitions. The highlight of his career was being selected to represent Ecuador at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Ermel retired as Major in 1968.
Ermel met Nancy Coons, from Canton, Pa., in 1958 when she moved to Quito to teach English. They were married in 1960 and raised three children. He and his family moved to the United States in 1968. Ermel attended WACC (now Pennsylvania College of Technology) in Williamsport to learn and hone his English skills. His dream of graduating from an American university was realized when he graduated in 1978 from Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Technology Engineering. He always admired the latest technology and enthusiastically embraced the newest gadgets. His professional career took him to Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, Venezuela, Guatemala, South Korea, and Japan. Ermel became an American citizen in 1993 and retired from General Electric in 1995.
Ermel is survived by his wife of 57 years, Nancy, his children Dr. James Jeffrey (Melanie) Arias of Milledgeville, GA, Cynthia (Pablo) Delgadillo of Silver Spring, MD, Jolene (Thomas) Smyth of Troy, PA, and Fernando (Patricia) of Quito, Ecuador. He was blessed and really enjoyed spending time with his ten grandchildren, Sophia, Blake, Gabriel, Raquel, Alex, Ian, Ariana (Ben), Karen, Nicole, Fernando, and three great-grandchildren, Elijah, Toril, and Jessica. Siblings are Orlando Arias of New York City, NY, Martha (Michel) Habets of Liege, Belgium, and Victor Hugo (Sonia) Arias of Quito, Ecuador, several nieces and nephews, and special neighbors and friends, Marcus and Shanna Ditzel and family. He was pre-deceased by his father and mother. Ermel was a strong and proud man who was always striving to better his lot in life. He will be fondly remembered for his keen intelligence, sense of humor, and endless determination. He attended the Canton Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ.
The family would like to express their sincere gratitude to all the people who have provided care for Ermel in the last few years.
Those interested may donate to the Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ,170 N. Minnequa Avenue, Canton, PA, in his memory.
Calling hours will be held at the Canton Church of Christ in Canton, PA on Saturday, February 17, 2018, from 1pm to 3pm, followed by a service to honor his life at 3pm officiated by Pastor Nancy Beahm. Morse and Kleese Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.