At 48 years, I feel terribly blessed to have known my great-great uncle, Raymond Daugherty, 91, for this many years. Many friends, my age, do not have uncles and aunts living. As of this writing, I still have one great-great uncle, and two great-great aunts, surviving, and eight great uncles and aunts living.
This, indeed, is a blessing!
Uncle Raymond was a younger brother to my great-grandmother, Thelma Daugherty Barmes, who was the mother of my maternal grandfather, Leroy Barmes. Uncle Raymond was born July 25, 1921, only a few months before my grandfather.
The uncle and nephew grew up together, and during the difficult times of The Great Depression, my great-grandmother would take her children back to her parents’ farm. It was on the Daugherty farm near Frankton, Indiana, that my grandfather and his uncle grew up, and spent many summers together. As they neared their late teens, the two young men met two best friends, Betty Church and Donna Clary, who lived in Boone Township, not too far from Summitville, Indiana. Eventually, Raymond and Betty were engaged, as were Leroy and Donna.
Their families remained close through the years. Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty were two of the first visitors when my mother was born, and in 1964, along with their son, Steve, were the first to visit me. When I adopted my first son, we drove to Houston, Texas, where Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty were living with their son, Steve, so they would be the first to meet my new son. Raymond and Betty were the first to greet three generations of our family.
My mother often babysat for Raymond and Betty’s only son, Steve. Steve went on to Ball State University, majoring in telecommunications with David Letterman and Joyce DeWitt, with whom he was engaged for a short time. Steve’s career was colorful, and exciting.
January, 2010, Steve passed away following a hideous battle with pancreatic cancer. I’ve terribly missed his emails, his jokes, his telephone calls with the deeply, and dramatically announced, “Cousin Darin!” I so miss hearing about all the colorful celebrities and events from Steve’s life.
December 2011, Aunt Betty passed away just before Christmas. Uncle Raymond, lost in the shadows of dementia, was moved back to a facility in Alexandria, Indiana, where his younger brother and sister-in-law, Dick & Anita, could watch after him.
Today, one of the last folks from my grandparents’ youth has left us. Though it is a sad morning to see this chapter in my family’s history close, I feel greatly blessed for having Uncle Raymond, Aunt Betty, and Steve in my life. They were an incredible trio.
May choirs of angels sing thee to thy rest, Uncle Raymond… please give Aunt Betty, Steve, Grandma Donna, and Grandpa Leroy a hug from me…