A Tribute, to the greatest great-gram I ever knew: (Composed Thursday evening, 8-17-17 by Terri E.)
She was born the eldest of four children and the only daughter on November 28, 1924, to Russell & Pearl (Moffett) Larimer. As a girl and the oldest, she learned early about keeping a household and working for the family right beside her Mother. As an older adult, she reminisced about simpler times. She and her brothers were allowed to bicycle from Bronson, MI, to Orland, IN, to visit their Grandma & Grandpa Moffett. She still remembered the smell & taste of her Grandma Moffett's soft sugar cookies. A certain store bought brand was close (today), and they have been a favorite right up to the end. She remembered the drives in the family car, coming out to visit Grandpa James & Anna Larimer at the farm in Greenfield Mills. One winter, when the bridge was out and the need was urgent, her father drove the car across the ice on the mill pond. They made it safely, but the intensity of the moment stayed with her over the years. She shared how her first visit to church was with the encouragement of a teacher from school. She attended church for the rest of her life, developing a faith that was rock solid, passing that heritage on to future generations.
Fast forwarding a few years, it was 1941, the war years and she was 16. She and three other girlfriends decided to go to Dally's ice cream shop in Sturgis. She drove her girlfriend's car, brand new and a manual, it was a grand adventure. There was no incident other than this was the first time Vern Donley laid eyes on her. He was six years older, and he had just enlisted in the Army. He was at the ice cream shop with three of his buddies, they paired off with the girls. A smitten Vern made sure he was partnered with her. He soon became a regular visitor at the Larimer home and by July 1942, they were married. They only had a short time together before he was shipped to the European & African theatre the following month for the next four years (inconsistent letters were their only source of contact). Soon after, she learned she was pregnant, she continued to live with her parents and brothers. Their daughter Connie was born the following May. Their marriage did not truly "begin" until after Vern returned from the war, and then it was a time of readjustment and healing for all. A few years later, Russell Larimer approached them asking if they would consider farming together on the family farm in Greenfield Mills. It would require more adjustments and changes, but it was agreed. Connie continued to grow & thrive, Roger was brought into the family, farm life had it share of curses and blessings, but then what doesn't? In 1962, Connie married Dave Easterday and the family grew with the addition of Grandchildren, Terri & Ron. In the mid-70's, her mother, Pearl, passed. Roger married Betsy Yarbrough, after a few more years, Grandsons, Vincent & Drake were added. In 1980, her father, Russell passed in his sleep. Vern and she had been married for 40 years now. There was talk of traveling more, of slowing the pace, of having time for "just them". In August, 1982, an unexpected tractor accident took Vern from her. A shock. A blow that was difficult to recover from... This chapter in her life came to an end.
The next chapter begins around 1988 with the arrival of a new Great-granddaughter, with family moving in right next door. She began to feel life again, she was no longer just going through the motions. She helped to care for that Granddaughter at age 63 and the other Great-grandchildren as they arrived, four in all by 1996. The children loved going to Gram's house and she loved having them -- and they knew it. But she loved her entire family, not just these later ones. She said once that each generation was that much more precious to her. God graced her to be able to see two Great-great-Grandsons before her body began to fail her.
Over the years, she has been a refuge, a rock. Her faith never wavered even during difficult times. She used her faith to teach the next generations, sometimes in her stories, oftentimes in her quiet example, her dignity, her servant's heart. It is this heritage that I celebrate this evening. That hope that tells us that this world is not the end. That we KNOW we will see her again as she is being cared for by Hospice and her loved ones now. Thirty-five years, almost to the day, she has waited to see Vern. My Grandmother, Marian Donley, is who I write of, as I'm sure many already may know. She is 92 and will be taken soon. What a blessing to be able to call myself her Granddaughter... We love you, Gram. You will be missed when you go, but we will see you soon. Thank you for a life well lived.
"Love is patient ,love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast it is not proud, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, it always trusts, always hopes, always persevered, love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-9"
Gram passed this morning, Sunday 8-20-17 at 3:00 a.m.
[Composed by my sister. Words fail me.... So I will use my mom's, & sisters words.]
Great-Grandma does not look like the picture on the left anymore, I know in my heart she looks like the woman on the right. She is with Jesus, and all her loved ones waiting, and I can't even imagine how amazing she must feel now!
I loved having her as my Grandma and I can't believe just how blessed I was to have her in my life! She will always be in my heart. I love you, Grandma! 💕
Marian Annabelle Larimer Donley
November 28, 1924 - August 20, 2017