Violet Bachtell was a mom who was always on the move

July 31, 2005|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's A Life Remembered is about Violet Maye Bachtell, who died July 21 at the age of 101. Her obituary appeared in the July 23 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Joe Bachtell's memory of riding a tricycle with his brother, Marlin "Bud" Bachtell Jr., pushing him is as clear as the sight of their mother telling them to get off because the bike belonged to their younger sibling, Edward.

"We laughed at mother and she chased us," Joe said. "She warned us we'd have to come home sometime."

Later, the two boys tried to sneak into the house but Violet Maye Bachtell was waiting for them. "She saw us and we couldn't get away," Joe said, recalling that the punishment was swift.


The three brothers could laugh about the incident now as family members gathered to remember Violet, who died July 21 at the age of 101. But when they were youngsters, they knew their mother was not to be underestimated.

"I probably gave my mother more trouble than the others," said Bud. He recounted how when the family lived on Cannon Avenue, he used to taunt a bigger neighborhood boy and then head quickly for home to avoid retribution.

Although Bud said he knew how fast he had to run to beat the bully to his door, he still had to deal with his mother, who invariably would be waiting for him.

Violet had seven children and was a stay-at-home mother until they were grown. But as her children recalled, "home" kept changing as the family moved a lot.

Over the years, they lived on Prospect Street, Forest Drive, West Franklin Street, Cannon Avenue, in Funkstown and even on Mapleville Road near Boonsboro for a brief period. The longest time was probably spent at 911 Summit Ave.

"I'm really not sure why we moved around so much," Edward said.

Nonetheless Violet always had dinner on the table for her family and Edward spoke for all when he said she was a great cook.

Daughter Eileen Wheeler said her mother's Sunday dinners were always the most elaborate and delicious of the week.

"Every Sunday, she would get us all ready for church," Eileen said. "Then we'd have the big Sunday meal when we returned."

Eileen has two sisters, Jeanne F. Jeffrey, also of Hagerstown, and Maryann Croft of Eugene, Ore.

Never still, always on the move ... none of the Bachtell children could think of a time when their mother wasn't on her feet doing something, either in the home or in the community.

George, the youngest of the seven Bachtell children, said he remembers walking to the corner store often with his mother. "When I was about 8, I challenged her to a race and she beat me," he said.

One of Edward's strongest memories of his mother was during the early 1950s, when medical problems landed him in a Baltimore children's hospital for six months.

"I was 11 years old then and she came to see me every single Sunday," Edward said. Violet would pack a lunch for her large family and together they would drive to Baltimore to see Edward.

"George was too young to come inside the hospital then," Edward said. "I'd have to see George out the back window of the hospital where he was standing."

Violet's husband, Marlin F. Bachtell Sr., was a well-known auto mechanic whose expertise in his field made him in demand at area garages, Eileen said of her father. He died in 1985.

As the children grew up and began leaving home, Violet was able to become more involved in her community and her church, The Hagerstown Church of the Brethren.

Violet taught Sunday school and was active in the women's fellowship and a number of church circles. From the time she was 16, she had been one of the original pianists at that church.

Interested in the concerns of the elderly, she served three terms on the Washington County Commission on Aging. "Mom also volunteered more than 2,000 hours at the Fahrney-Keedy Home," Joe said.

Daughter-in-law Barbara Bachtell recalled playing different card games with family members over the years and those games often lasted for many hours. "She would never say she was too tired to play - she'd be the last to stop," Barbara said.

Her sweet tooth was legendary, something Bud said he inherited from her.

"Mom would bake a cake and we each got a piece," Bud said. "Then the rest of the cake would disappear upstairs to the master bedroom."

As her health began to decline, Violet was forced to slow down. She still enjoyed visits with her children, her grandchildren - who called her Mam Mam - and being remembered by her many friends.

"I know the Funkstown Homemakers sent her cards on every occasion and she really enjoyed that," Joe said.

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