This week we are celebrating living in a great country and enjoying freedoms guaranteed by our constitution. We enjoy those freedoms not only because of the men and women in the military but also to those who speak up, pay attention, who vote and guard our freedoms.
Our constitution has served us well and we believe our future depends on following this winning formula. The men who wrote the constitution realized there indeed could be a compelling reason to change our constitution and they provided a remedy for that; passing an amendment such as we did when we gave women the right to vote and to end slavery. There are too many of our judges who do not agree with that method and they want to change our constitution without our permission. Their rulings reflect what they call “a living constitution”.
Of the three branches of government, the judicial branch has the most effect on our lives. Be vigilant.
Today, we want to tell you about Marna Riddle. She is affectionately known as our “night lady.” Let me explain. Most of our visitations take place in the evening after the office staff has gone home. We need someone to manage the office during those times and that is Marna’s job; hence the name, “the night lady.” She is also called upon on weekends when the office staff is off and we have a funeral or visitation scheduled. She has been doing a good job for us for 11 years.
Marna grew up in Garnett before moving to Ottawa. Many of us knew her parents, Betty and the late Lionel Sutton, who owned Sutton’s Jewelry. Before retirement, Marna taught school for 32 years. She still substitutes, mainly at Central Heights. That gives her 43 years in education and still counting. She does so enjoy the students.
Marna is married to Butch Riddle, who is a retired plumber. They have two sons, Jay and Luke; and a grandson, Johnie.
Today, we would like to tell you about Cassandra “Cassie” Tracy, who has been with us since 2015. Cassie grew up in Salina. After high school, she went to Kansas City Kansas Community College and graduated with a Mortuary Science degree in 2015. While in school, she did on the job training at Warren McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence. The owner recommended Cassie to us. He thought she had great promise.
He was right. She did her yearlong internship here and is now a full-fledged licensed funeral director/embalmer. She is also certified to perform cremations. She is a wiz on the computer. We like bright young people who are new to the profession who we can train to meet our standards. Cassie is a fast learner, a good team member and has what it takes. She set her sights on this profession at age 16 and look at her now!
When she is not working, she is hanging out with friends, going to concerts, watching sports or playing golf.
Today, we would like to tell you about Carolyn Elder, who began working for us in 1990. Carolyn is our pre-need counselor. Because of her high moral standards and her kind, understanding nature and efficiency, we think she is the best pre-need counselor, bar none.
Carolyn is semi-retired and fills her spare time directing Hands of Glory, a ministry she created that shares Christian music in sign language. She is a certified United Methodist Lay Speaker, filling pulpits when needed. She also helps with a grief support group sponsored by Ottawa First United Methodist Church.
Carolyn is a lifelong resident of Ottawa. Here is something you might not know—she graduated from Hays Hairstyling School in Mission. Obviously, her life took a different direction. Carolyn and her husband, Bud, who died in 2003, had three daughters who blessed them with eight amazing grandchildren.
It has been a few years since we have published our “Getting to Know Us” columns. Most of our core employees are the same and have been here for years. We are a family owned funeral home and we want to update you on the people we work with, people who feel more like family than employees.
We did lose one of our valued funeral directors/embalmers a couple of years ago. Many of you will remember Blayne Rons. He and his wife, Teresa, bought a funeral home in Lyons, Kansas. They had a baby since the move and are happily giving the people of Lyons and the surrounding community the best funeral service they have ever had.
We will update the information on people who have been here for years and we will tell you about the people who have joined our staff since the last update. We have a current photo of everyone and will use those pictures in place of mine so you can connect the face to the person.
Next Monday, across the nation, individuals and families will visit cemeteries to honor their deceased loved ones. Memorial Day was first observed to honor the men who died in the Civil War and it was called Decoration Day. Now we pay homage to all the men and women who have served our country and to all the friends and family who have gone before us.
It is a day to recall fond memories of deceased loved ones so younger generations can appreciate family history and how values and traditions are passed down to each generation. It is a great opportunity to celebrate family, past and present. There is no greater tribute to your loved one.
Much hard work goes into making the cemeteries look beautiful for Memorial Day. The grass has been mowed and the American flags are flying. The flowers are ablaze with color. The sextons, volunteers and members of our military organizations deserve our gratitude.
Memorial Day will soon be here, a traditional day to remember our loved ones. It became a tradition on this day to go to cemeteries and put flowers on graves. It helps us to do something tangible to say, “we miss you”.
Most cemeteries have a rule that you may not place anything on or in the ground of a burial space. It is just too difficult to get the mowing done if the mowers need to stop and move and replace items. And the rule does tend to keep the cemetery looking neat and clean. But, you can put flowers or whatever you choose in permanent vases that are attached to the foundation or base all year long. You can even attach flowers to the stone itself.
Memorial Day is an exception. For this holiday, flowers may be placed upon the grave without the benefit of a permanent container. Many cemeteries allow the flowers to be placed on graves a week before and approximately two weeks after Memorial Day.