I grew up in Marshall, Texas and attended Panola College and Kilgore College, before earning a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas in January 1961.
I was married in 1961 to Gary Edward Grace (1940-1963) of Tacoma, Washington. After his untimely death, I met and was married for nearly 42 years to Jerald Lanty "Jerry" Henderson until his death in 2004.
Leading a busy life, my husband and I chose not to have children, a decision I have yet to regret. Some people simply are not meant to be parents. I am proud I had recognized that I did not have sufficient maternal instinct to take on the lifelong job of parenting.
My working life began as a teacher of general music, chorus, English, and American History in middle and elementary schools. That lasted less than four years before burnout set in. I turned my attention to industry, working mostly for federal government contractors involved in military weaponry R&D, and in US space programs at the nation's Western Test Range.
In mid-1995, I gratefully accepted an early retirement offer from a General Motors R&D facility in Santa Barbara, California where I was an editor. My husband and I then moved across the country to Bradenton, Florida where, after an absence of 30 years but still being something of a lunkhead in thinking things may have changed since the 1960s, I returned to the classroom only to realize that my disciplinary skills were still as bad as they were 30 years earlier.
After my husband died, I retired permanently and now devote most of my time to researching the family histories of both sides of my family, those of my husbands, for cousins and dear friends, and, occasionally, for strangers I have never met.
Sometimes, my attention is caught by a small article found on-line or by a lonely grave with minimal information carved into an aging marker. Whether from sensitivity or simple curiosity, I cannot say, but I make it my mission to research that person's family history, built upon the tiny bit of information that caught my notice in the first place. If I can at all help to keep the memory of that person alive a little longer, I am glad.
I did that several years ago for a young man whose burial marker simply gave his name, service branch and rank, and years of birth and death. Noting the year he died, my first thought was that he was most likely a casualty of World War II. I couldn't bear to think that, in today's world, there is no one is left to mourn this brave young man who gave his all for his country.
Although brought up in the same town in east Texas and learning through research that his father worked for the same company and even in the same department as did mine, I never met anyone in his large family and do not remember ever hearing my father mention the other dad.
I am proud to say that Lt. (jg) Alfred Harris Bell, USNR, no longer rests in obscurity. His family tree is now on line, with a link to his findagrave.com memorial. His grave, though, is merely symbolic as, according to the US Government records, his remains were nonrecoverable.
The connection between findagrave.com and family history research is one that cannot - and should not - be ignored. Genealogy research is a very fulfilling pursuit. Luckily, I seem to have a natural gift for it.
The family lines do not end with me, despite my not having children. I have male cousins on both sides who produced sons to carry on the surnames of Eason and Arnold.
NOTE TO MYSELF: To contact findagrave.com about making a memorial correction that is not addressed in their troubleshooting area, e-mail them at: [email protected]