Monday, May 07, 2007

A Family Story From Greensburg

This evening I had an email from Stan Lewis of Marion, Indiana. He was hunting for information about family that was in the Greensburg, Kansas, tornado and found my blog.

I asked his permission to share his email here and he graciously agreed and even sent along a photo. I think it makes the story personal, and gives a different perspective than what traditional media is providing.

Stan says, The photo is of me and my wife, Carolyn, Dad and his wife, Forrest Lee. We were celebrating dad's 99th birthday the weekend of Feburary 25, 2007 in the Best Western J Hawk motel in Greensburg which is rubble now. Forrest Lee is a classy lady and few people think dad looks to be in his 100th year.
Hi Patsy, I came across your blog when I was searching for my dad and step mom who were in the Carriage House in Greensburg. Please forgive me that this is so long, but I thought there might be some interest. I and/or my family have a lot of history in Greensburg, Mullinville, Minneola, and Hutchinson.

I was born July 19, 1939 in Mullinville. My parents were Quakers, so I was a birth rite Quaker. When a year old my family moved to Minneola. There was no Friends church so we attended the Methodist church. My dad was a farmer and we fed steers during the winter.  I attended Southwestern College for a year after I graduated from Minneola H.S. in 1957, 50 years ago May 17. I went to Asbury College for the rest of my college years and to Asbury Seminary both in Wilmore, KY. I married a Hoosier, who attended Taylor University.

We felt God wanted us to be missionaries, but after I got my seminary degree we moved to Hutchinson, Kansas to have pastoral experience. I graduated from seminary, was ordained, and married all within eleven days in late May and early June 1964.

I was assigned to the Hadley Memorial Methodist Church in the south part of Hutchinson. It was literally a church across the tracks. We were there two years. The church closed a few years later. It is on F street as I recall. I usually go by when I go through Hutchinson which isn't very often.

I loved Hutchinson, the friendly people, the kind people. Elmo and Alma Pierson were in our church. He's been gone a long time. We stopped to see her on our last visit. They were always kind to us. I was interested in Christian literature so worked for the Wesleyan Publishing House here in Marion, Indiana until the end of 1968.

We than went to Burundi, Africa as missionaries in August 1968 with World Gospel Mission, headquartered here in Marion, Indiana. We served in Africa for 13 years and for 24 years I worked in the home office of the mission here in Marion. In January 2005 I retired from World Gospel Mission.

Just two years ago, 5-05-05 (May 5, 2005) I was asked to return to the mission and work part time. It was what I had done my last two years before retirement. I work about 20 hours a week. I love it, can set my own schedule and the missionaries appreciate what I do. It was October 1981 we returned to the states to live. 

My mother got a brain tumor and was in Wesley Hospital in Wichita. The doctors told dad they opened her up but the tumor was too big and too far inside, they just sewed her up. A few days later I rode with mom in the back of the ambulance to Dodge City which was just 20 miles from Minneola where Dad lived. She couldn't communicate. She died in September 1983 several weeks later, just a month shy of their 50th wedding anniversary. Instead of celebrating 50 wedded years in her new dress she'd bought she was buried in it to celebrate forever in heaven with Jesus Himself.

Dad knew Forrest Lee Einsel and got to know her better. She lived in a big farm house just southwest of the town of Greensburg. It is separated from the town maybe by one half mile or so.

In July 1985, I was honored when I married my dad to Forrest Lee (she goes by both names) in that big house.

Regarding Forrest Lee, was married to Charlie Einsel before she married dad. Charlie was 63 and she was 23 when they married. That's like getting married to your granddaughter. After being married for 30 years he was up on a roof and fell off as I recall and died. What was a 93 year old doing up there? Several years later she met and married dad. He's 15 years older and they have been married almost 22 years. She really does like older men. :)

A year or so after Dad and Forrest Lee married, Dad had a farm sale in Minneola. I have two brothers and we all helped him with it. Dad always loved the farm and wide open spaces. He loved Greensburg and was active in the Methodist church in Greensburg and some community efforts until his health prevented it and his age. Eventually Forrest Lee moved to the Carriage House in Greensburg. She wanted Dad to go too. But he couldn't live in a small room. He liked the wide open spaces.

Greensburg is almost like a second home to me. For longer than I can remember we had family reunions at the world’s largest hand dug well. And I’ve had different relatives who have lived there during the last 50 or more years. It was  very  interesting  to me when my dad moved to Greensburg with his new bride in July 1985. His sister and her family had lived in Greensburg, my aunt had lived there and my grandma and great grandma.

As you wrote about in your blog. Greensburg is now multiple piles of rubble.  I was glued to the TV all day Saturday with unbelief in seeing what I was seeing.

The end of February my two brothers and some of their families and my wife and I were in Greensburg at the motel that was on the west side and north side of Greensburg, across from the John Deere place as I recall. We were celebrating Dad's 99th birthday.

Two weeks ago dad  finally moved to the Carriage House nursing home in Greensburg . Last Friday night as the tornado did its damage in just a few minutes hardly anyone in the nursing home knew anything had happened.

Dad and another man did not go to the basement. They stayed on the main floor in their rooms I guess. Dad is hard of hearing, never knew what happened when it did. Forrest Lee was in the basement, the people there didn't hear either.

The Carriage House is only one of a few places that  still stands after the storm with only a missing roof and some broken windows.   As you know, the schools, the churches, the city hall, the bank, the John Deere dealer, the motels, they  are gone. But still all of the residents needed to be evacuated to a safer place.  

Originally dad and Forrest Lee were going to Mullinville to stay with her niece. But when she came to get them the authorities wouldn't let her in to get them (Isn't this interesting, they were being evacuated but she couldn't get them maybe she didn't look official enough).  

Searching the internet and making calls, finally last evening (Saturday) I found that dad and mom had been moved to Augusta, Kansas  to the Lake Point Carriage House. Five others from Greensburg are also there. They don't have phones in their rooms, but the workers go find them so we can talk. Isn't this great? So early this afternoon I talked to Dad and  we  had a friend from Wichita who went out to visit them this morning. They had left Greensburg with the minimum of things needed. He was able to get some things for them.

Physically they appear great, Praise the Lord. Emotionally it has been a traumatic event.  It's interesting they only have a bed in their rooms, not even a chair. They each have a room. Forrest Lee didn't even have a change of clothes. My friend went and got her two sets of clothes. He is a great friend and is going to see them again tomorrow and plans to go to Greensburg to get their clothes and personal things if he can get permission. 

They have no idea what the future holds, but as we’ve often heard or said, we know who holds the future. I know they would appreciate your prayers on their behalf. It is not easy for a 99 year old and an 84 year old couple whose lives have been so turned upside down in just moments of time and they are moved into a new community where they know almost no one.

I am so glad we can share our burdens as well as our joys with a great family of fellow believers.


Admin said...

Thank you for posting this. I grew up in Greensburg. My family is there still...once a month, their church (Lighthouse Worship Center) held services at the Carriage House...

Good memories are helpful.

Patsy Terrell said...

Thanks, Joni... It's an honor to be a vehicle for the good stories as well as the news.