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Missing Mildred

Mildred Lorraine Smith February 28, 1921 - May 4, 2001

I have written about my mother, my grandmother, and my aunts. They played a big part in my life story, of course. But there is another beloved mother that was just as important to me.

Mildred Lorraine Smith was born in Deluce, Arkansas, February 28, 1921, the daughter of Murray Cord Smith and Mary M. Childers. Her two older brothers, Paul and Cleo Smith continued to be a large part of Mildred’s life as they grew up together and eventually all moved from Arkansas and settled in Erath County, Texas.

Mildred’s father, Murray, was a Methodist minister. He also was licensed to teach in Dallas County, Arkansas in 1927. As a minister he served in the Arkadelphia District of the Methodist Episcopal Church. When he moved his family further west because of the health of his wife, Mary, they first went to New Mexico and then moved back into Texas. The small community of Lingleville in Erath County became their home. He built a home there which is still standing, and with minor modifications, is still the home of Mildred’s daughter. Murray also served as minister in the Lingleville Methodist Church. It is no longer standing.

Mildred Smith Hicks and her oldest son Don Earl Hicks

Mildred came into my life in 1958 when she married my father, Leon Fremont Richards. She and Daddy met while working in the Safeway Grocery Store in Stephenville, only ten miles from Mildred’s home (the one her father built) in Lingleville. They married January 25, 1958, in Desdemona, Eastland County, Texas. She stole our hearts from the very first.

David, Peggy, Sue, Judy, Leon
Mildred in the middle holding Ann's hand

I was the second from the oldest of six kids – Daddy’s three girls and Mildred’s two boys and one girl. Our step-sister told me and my sisters years later that she was so excited when she heard Daddy and Mildred were getting married. She said she will never forget it. Sitting at the dining room table (the one my middle sister now has in her home) Mildred and Daddy told her and her two brothers that they were marrying and that they would be getting three sisters. She said she was ecstatic, “Now I’ll have sisters!”

Although I always called Mildred by her first name instead of Mom or Mother, I never felt she was anything but a mother to me. She had the kindest spirit and was such a gentle person. She and Daddy matched one another perfectly. Mildred had a hearing problem that worsened with age, of course, but she had had it since childhood and she always had trouble with her balance. I can close my eyes now and visualize my reaching out to touch her arm when I sensed she needed help.

She worked hard for her family, and she and Daddy were able to keep her father’s homeplace going, raising vegetables and fruits and pecans, keeping Holstein cows and churning butter from their fresh milk while sitting in the kitchen of that little country home. I have peeled many a peach and helped with the canning and freezing of those fruits and vegetables. She made the sweetest ice cream with those peaches you have ever tasted. And, of course, we all took a turn at the handle of that old-fashioned ice cream freezer.

Mildred lived long past Daddy. She was a widow for sixteen years and seemed to always miss him. Those sixteen years were filled with work and friends. She loved to quilt and was known to have the best looking quilting stitches of any in the area. Everyone loved to look at her quilts. She continued to have a garden during the years after Daddy’s death and it was a pretty large undertaking for several years. Only during the last few years of her life did the garden spot shrink.

She developed Alzheimer’s disease. It was so hard to see her change and lose her memories of who we were and even where she was. But it was her childlike answers to our questions that I now remember during those months of decline. She broke my heart one day when a light suddenly went off in her mind and she looked at me and said, “You mean, you are MY Judy?”

Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren all loved her as well as her nieces and nephews. She was a devout woman and a member of the Methodist Church. I will always miss her.

Mildred Richards & Leon F. Richards
East End Cemetery, Lingleville, Erath Co., Texas

Carnival of Genealogy: 72nd Edition
The topic for the 72nd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: Mothers!
Mother’s Day is right around the corner and this is the perfect time to honor your mother, grandmother, godmother, step mother, den mother, aunt, neighbor, or friend who happens to be a mother. If you’ve written about your own mother for the COG before, consider writing about another mom on your family tree.
Let’s make all our moms famous! The deadline for submissions is May 15th and next edition will be hosted at Creative Gene.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the carnival submission form


Janice Tracy said…
What a lovely post, Judy. The love that you had for Mildred comes through in every sentence you wrote. Happy Mother's Day.
DianaR said…
Hi Judy ~
What a beautiful post...I so admire your writing. Reading just this one post about Mildred I felt as if I'd truly met her.
Janice and Diana, you are both so thoughtful. I appreciate the comments you make about my posts more than you know. Mildred was so special it was hard to put it into words - and there was so much more I could have said!

Happy Mother's Day to you both.
Tammy said…
Hey Judith, I really enjoy your blog so I have awarded you the “One Lovely Blog” award. Stop on over to my place to pick it up.
Gini said…
Judith, a beautiful post and tribute to Mildred. I too love your blog and your writing, I always look forward to your warm and kind words that come from the heart. Thank you and a Happy Mother's Day to you.
Judith, what a wonderful tribute on this mother's day. Mildred would be touched, I'm sure.
Tipper said…
Just a lovely post! Mildred sounds like she was an amazing woman.
Thank you so much, Tipper, Mona, Gini, and Tammy! I loved Mildred with all my heart and am so glad you were touched when you read my post.
What a beautiful tribute to your stepmother!

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