Monday, December 15, 2008

R.I.P. Howard Cheney, age 97

Last Wednesday one of Lynda's elderly cousins, Howard Cheney, died at age 97 in El Dorado Kansas. Before 2006, Howard was a name on my many genealogy pages. An older cousin of Lynda's dad, I assumed he was dead (being age 85 when I began genealogy pursuits), and didn't make any attempt to learn more about him.

In May 2006 he celebrated his 95th birthday, his granddaughter, Ronda, sat with him over old family photos and asked him to identify them. One he said was "Grandma Cheney", but he couldn't give any more info than that. Ronda's interest was piqued; she began doing some genealogy research; found my posts on-line about the family; and contacted me in August 2006.

Events happened quickly. We were going to New Mexico in October for a writing conference. Another elderly cousin, Cecil Cheney, 91, lived outside Albuquerque. When Howard learned Cecil was alive, he wanted to go see him, and a mini-reunion was planned and happened. Howard and Cecil had last seen each other in 1918, when Howard was 8 and Cecil 4. Cecil's dad Will Cheney had been murdered in 1916, and his widow and their three children moved in with Howard's family, the Clarence Cheney family. The widow re-married in 1917 or 1918, they moved to Colorado, and lost track of the Cheney family.

That was quite a moment, when Howard and Cecil saw each other for the first time in 88 years. Howard remembered some of those times, but Cecil not at all. Still, it was a good day, and I was glad for the part I had in making it happen. Genealogy does have some positives.

We drove to El Dorado on Sunday, after Life Group, for the afternoon visitation hours. The weather deteriorated during the four hour drive, the temp. dropping from 69 to 21. We saw Ronda and her brother and sister, their mom and uncle, Howard's widow (a late in life remarriage for him), some spouses, and other relatives. Most of these we had not met before. It was a great time, including looking at some photos we hadn't seen before. The trip back was through some sleet (not too bad and not enough to slow down a whole lot) and temps. around 17. We were back about 9 PM, glad we made the effort, happy to have met relatives, sorry at Howard's passing, and worn out.


ronda said...

I'm so glad that we found each other on the internet and the mini-reunion happened for Papa (Howard) and Cecilin Oct. 2006. We're losing a lot of family history when the older ones pass away. Thank you for coming to visitation on Sunday. It was great seeing you and Lynda. Wish it had been for Papa's 100th birthday. He's in Heaven with God and my grandmother, Colleen.
Love, Ronda

David A. Todd said...


Thanks for coming by and reading and commenting.