Tag Archives: obituaries

Sunday Obituaries — James Calvin Donald

This is a departure from my usual dedication to Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles, but i found this while I was organizing yesterday.  James Calvin Donald, was my great great grandfather.

I laid flowers at his grave when my father died (June 2010) and when my aunt died (Oct 2010).    Many ancestors are in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.  When I was at their funerals I was struck by the fact that many of my immediate family and ancestors and stood in that cemetery and cried tears as we said goodbye to love ones.  It is a ribbon that weaves our family tapestry together.

Sunday’s Obituary: Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles — Minnie Maude Gillespie

Every generation has their own maiden aunts and bachelor uncles who leave behind no children and often there  is no one left to tell their story.  They truly become forgotten stories.  I will devote Sunday to those Aunts and Uncles.

Minnie Maude Gillespie was the oldest child of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald and the oldest sister of my grandfather Gilbert M Gillespie. She was born on January 29th 1897 and died at the age of 61 on April 5th, 1958.  She was outlived by her seven brothers and sisters and her mother.

This is the only picture I have of Minnie.  Hopefully one of my cousins can supply me with a better one someday.  Minnie is sitting on the right on the first row.

Family of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie 1

She suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis most of her life.  Working at Adair-Hutton’s dry goods store as a clerk was such a struggle having to stand all day.  My father remembered her coming home to the house on 108 Houston Street and have to soak her feet.

Adair’s ad in the Lexington, Virginia Directory in 1923.2

She was  born in Lexington, Virgina, and moved with her parents to 108 Houston Street were she lived the rest of her life.  She finished 4 years of high school.  She was a member of the Trinity Methodist Church.

She was buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery which more or less in the backyard of her home.  She is buried near her parents, many of her sisters and brothers and other generations of the family.

I have two obituaries for Minnie Maude Gillespie. And I am truly sad I don’t more about her.

Obituaries for Minnie Maude Gillespie3

Footnotes

1. Family of Wyatt Paul and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie, digital image ca. 1925, photocopy privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]. Minnie Maude is in the lower right corner; Minnie would have been around 28 years old. My father, Gilbert Gillespie, had the original at one time, current location is unknown.
2. The City Directory of Lexington, Virgina (A.D. Smith, Inc., 1922), 80; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jul 2012)
3. “Ms. Minnie M Gillespie”, undated clipping, ca. 1958, from unidentified newspaper; privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]. Inherited from my father Gilbert Gillespie.

Just Because It’s In Print Doesn’t Make It True

I never knew my maternal grandfather, Howard Arthur Turner, as I lost contact with my mother and her side of the family when I was very young.  One day I discovered his obituary on GenealogyBank.com and became intrigued with knowing more about him.

From his obituary I learned he died on June 26, 1992 and that he was survived by his wife Carol; son Tom Turner; daughter, Mrs. Kathy Currier; brothers, James Turner Jr., Michael Turner; two stepdaughters; two grandchildren; nephews and nieces. 1

That would be the first piece of information that is wrong.  He was survived by at least 4 grandchildren.  My sister and I are the daughters of Kathy Currier by a previous marriage.

When reading obituaries, family histories, newspapers, wills and other documents we use to understand genealogy it is important to remember details are often presented to fit current realities.  Given that my sister and I had not had contact with the man since we were very young and that we haven’t had any contact with the family for well over 30 years, it is understandable.  And a different story for a different day.

The paragraphs that I find the most intriguing from the obituary are:

A radio newscaster at WBT (1110 AM) in the early 1940s, Mr. Turner also taught David Brinkley, now host of the Sunday news Program “This Week With David Brinkley,” who was a UPI news reporter at the Charlotte Station, how to announce on the radio – or so the story goes, says Mr. Turner’s son, Tom.

“My dad would like to tell us about how he taught David Brinkley how to announce on the radio. I don’t know if it’s absolutely true, but he sure liked to tell the story,” said Tom Turner, now president of his father’s supply company. From 1941 to 1946, Mr. Turner paired with Grady Cole, for whom the Grady Cole Center on Kings Drive is named, to produce morning news reports on WBT.” 2

There is a story there.  How much of it is true? I know there are already missing pieces in this brief summary of his life. One thing I do know, the story is probably interesting. Tomorrow I’ll start trying to unravel it.

1. “Howard Arthur Turner,” obituary, The Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer, June 28, 1992; digital images, Genealogybank.com, (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 5 April 2009), Newspaper Obituaries Collection.
2. “Howard Arthur Turner,” obituary, The Charlotte Observer, June 28, 1992.

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