Friday, April 20, 2018

An Obituary Acquaints Me with my Great-Grandaunt

I really enjoy reading obituaries from decades ago, as they often tell us so much about the character and qualities of the deceased person. It seems obituaries of today more often relate the vital facts and accomplishments of people.

I found this paragraph in the obituary of Lorena Colby Flanders, the wife of my great-granduncle, Truman Flanders. A transcription of the clipping follows: Rena Flanders was a true representative of the type of the home-loving, home-making wife and mother. Her family, home and friends filled her interests completely. Her neighbors found her ever a helpful, cheery, sympathetic aid in times of need, and so sweet was her loving, wholesome personality that even those who knew her but slightly felt her dearness. The host of friends who came from far and near to attend the services, and the profusion of beautiful flowers evidenced the wide circle of friendship that was hers. No cross word was known to pass her lips. Even during the weeks of illness that preceded her death, she constantly maintained her usual happy, generous, cheery disposition. Her deep love given to those around her must remain so vivid in their memories that it would seem as though hers will still be a near presence to them. 1925 Sep 10, Flanders, Rena Colby kind words from obit, McHenry Plaindealer, p1
In my collection of family photos, I have this letter/postcard that Lorena “Rena” Colby Flanders sent to my maternal grandmother, Nannie (Mrs. Milo) Flanders.
Flanders, Lorena 'Rena' (Mrs. Truman), daughters Villa and Mildred.
Flanders, Lorena 'Rena' Colby letter on back of photo. To Nannie Flanders.

It’s wonderful that these obituaries are available on sites like so we can discover more about the personalities in our ancestry. Another example of “putting flesh on the bones”.  Even though Rena died the year my mother was born, I know more than what’s found on her headstone. In addition to the photo and letter that I own, I’m thrilled to read more of her personality in her obituary and realize what a fine woman my great-grandaunt was.

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