Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Remembering Ionia Hartford

Claire and I are still in Colorado and I will not be resuming regular blogging activity until next Monday. However, I did want to post this obituary before too much more time elapsed. As most of our friends already know, my Mom passed away on Monday evening, June 11. 

The funeral was held last Friday afternoon in Golden, Colorado. Present at the funeral were family members, friends from the old neighborhood and some of Claire's and my friends who live in Colorado. There was a very moving graveside service held at the cemetery where many gave testimony to Ionia's life. 

But before that, at Foothills Chapel also located there in Golden, I conducted a brief funeral service which included comments about Mom's life, her firm standing as a Christian, the resurrection, heaven and a clear explanation of the gospel. Scriptures specifically referred to were John 14: 1-3, several verses in Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, and John 3:16. And beginning the service was this obituary I had written, based upon remarks I had composed a year ago when Mom was named Resident of the Month at Life Care Center.

The fifth child of John and Ethel Ellsworth, Ionia was born on a farm in Stahl, Missouri on September 13, 1924.   She graduated from Novinger High School where she was a good student and a star player on the girl's championship basketball team.  On August 8, 1942, she married Alva Thomas Hartford in Kirksville, Missouri.   Alva being turned down for military service because of health issues, the couple immediately moved to Wood River, Illinois where they worked at Western Cartridge (an ammunition factory) throughout World War II.

Alva and Ionia spent many years in Wood River. But after several vacations to Colorado, they decided suddenly to move there in 1959, settling eventually in south Denver and then Lakewood. After Alva's death in 1985, Ionia lived a few years in Aurora before moving to Omaha, Nebraska.

In addition to raising her own five children, Ionia worked in several other jobs. They included child care, retail sales at Montgomery Wards and Rexall Drug, positions with Stanley Home Products and Rocky Mountain Bank Note and an especially rewarding career as a skilled technician with Cobe Laboratories, a company that made sophisticated medical tubing for heart and lung machines. She finished her working career as Cobe's Quality Control Supervisor.

Ionia and her husband enjoyed a truly blessed and happy marriage. They loved camping and picnicking, porch-sitting in the evening, visiting friends and neighbors, and times with family. Ionia also enjoyed traveling and was pleased to have visited many states. She also made two international trips seeing sights in England, Wales,and Holland.

Ionia liked reading, especially poetry, Golden Age mysteries and history. I remember her reading the 5-volumes of Winston Churchill's History of World War II in less than a month. She also loved working crossword puzzles, playing rummy and double solitaire with her kids and grandkids, and so many other activities.

Mom loved old movies, particularly those with military or espionage themes and Westerns. She could watch  over and over again The Guns of Navarone, The Hunt for Red October, Where Eagles Dare, The Dirty Dozen,  anything starring John Wayne or anything directed by Alfred Hitchcock. She liked music and was quite eclectic in her tastes. When I was growing up, for instance, the records that Mom played on our blonde wood, hi-fi  phonograph included Elvis Presley, Johnny Horton, Marty Robbins, Dean Martin, the Mills Brothers, the Everly Brothers, Jim Reeves, Andy Williams and the soundtracks to musicals like Oklahoma, West Side Story and South Pacific. Later in life, she was really fond of The Irish Tenors.

Also in her later years, Mom took up fishing. She wasn't all that keen on eating what she caught (she usually gave the fish away to someone along the bank) but she loved the gamesmanship of the sport as well as the beauty and serenity of her surroundings. She also became a fan of the Denver Broncos in football, the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals in baseball and, in the PGA, Phil Mickelson.

Ionia Hartford was an intelligent, engaging and attractive woman. She made friends easily and was a favorite among her friends and neighbors, including the last places she lived: Immanuel Assisted Living Center, Life Care Nursing Home and even the ICU of Immanuel Hospital where she spent the last 5 weeks of her life. She was a woman whose virtues included gratitude, wit, compassion, a keen sense of justice, a priority on cleanliness  (which her children have inherited, but in diluted concentrations), a pleasant curiosity about life, a sincere  and longstanding dedication to Christianity, and a deep love for her husband, her children, her grandchildren and  her extended family. Indeed, Mom's happiest moments were when her whole family was together.

Ionia Hartford passed away peacefully on June 13, 2011 in Omaha, Nebraska after many years of battling various health problems. She was 86 years old.  Ionia is survived by her five children and their spouses: Linda Bale and her husband Jon of San Jose, California;  Dennis Hartford and his wife Claire of Omaha, Nebraska;  Sherry Whissen and her husband John of Wichita, Kansas;  James "Highway" Hartford and his wife Tenna of Deltona, Florida;  and Richard Hartford and his wife Ellen of Littleton, Colorado. She also leaves four grandchildren (Kimberly Bale, Jeffrey Bale, Heather McNeil and Brian Whissen); two great-grandchildren (Haylie Converse and Leah Whissen); one sister-in-law (Farris Ellsworth); and many nieces and nephews.

Memorials can be made to Vital Signs Ministries.