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Family has fond memories of their favorite redhead

August 27, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." This continuing series 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 Wanda Marguarite Cassidy Itnyre, who died Aug. 15 at the age of 84. Her obituary appeared in the Aug. 17 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

It began with a stolen kiss and a slap, but quickly evolved into a life journey for Wanda Cassidy Itnyre and the man with whom she would spend the next 64 years of her life.

"My grandmother said she was on a porch in Hagerstown, and my grandfather was across the street when he looked over and saw this beautiful redhead," Sandy Itnyre said. "He was dared to go over and give her a kiss, and he did."


It was then that Wanda slapped Ross Itnyre, but that didn't discourage him from pursuing her - all the way to the altar in 1940.

Still a redhead to the end, Wanda Itnyre died Aug. 15 at her home near City Park in Hagerstown, where she had lived for 51 years.

"Mom was so proud of that hair," said Peggy Mongan. It stayed that color naturally until about 10 years ago, when Wanda elicited the help of modern science.

Peggy said her father once asked her how she kept her hair that color, and she told him she took "tender loving care" of it. Apparently, he never knew that was the name of a brand of hair color, Peggy said.

Peggy and her brother, Charles, were born 14 months apart. Their father was in the U.S. Army during World War II, serving in the Pacific.

"We lived a poor life ... like so many others," Peggy said, remembering how she used to put cardboard in her shoes to extend their life.

She quickly added that she and Charles had a happy childhood, mainly because their mother made sure the family did many things together.

Sandy said she remembers her grandmother telling her a story about an insurance man who came around to collect his money, but there wasn't any money to give him.

"Later, that insurance man came back with a bag of groceries for the family," Sandy said.

Peggy remembers how her mother had to kill the family's pet chicken because there wasn't anything else to eat.

"Nobody ate that chicken but her," Peggy said.

Until Ross came home from the war, Wanda worked first at Fairchild, then at M.P. Moller Organ Works to keep the family going.

Peggy and Charles had snowball stands, earning money for back-to-school clothes and supplies.

"Then, Daddy worked at Victor Products, and I remember riding my scooter to his work when mom took him his lunch," Charles said. From their home on Ray Street, they cut through an alley and Rose Hill Cemetery to get to First Street.

Wanda later began working at Howard's Paint Store, first when it was on East Washington Street, then North Potomac Street and finally on Dual Highway, where Howard's Art Supplies and Frames still is doing business.

In all, she worked there for 38 years, retiring as a custom framer.

"Every house painter in town knew her - she mixed all their paints for them," Peggy said, noting that many came to the viewing and told her that.

Her picture-framing skills also were legend, Peggy said.

"Some of the pictures she framed are hanging in the White House and the Pentagon - she was very particular," Peggy said.

As the years went by and Wanda and Ross began accumulating a host of grandchildren, the house on Highland Way became a magnet with its game room in the basement.

There also was the cabin at the Potomac Fish and Game Club, where many of the Itnyre grandchildren remember fun-filled summers along the Potomac River.

"I spent one whole summer at the river when I was 14," granddaughter Charity Lloyd said. "I had my grandma all to myself."

Granddaughter Jodi Ramsey said birthdays and anniversaries never were forgotten. Wanda's cooking always was special, though no one has been able to re-create some of her dishes because she had no written recipes.

Learning to make "little girls" out of a special flower found at the river was a special memory for granddaughter Julie Harbaugh.

"Grandma always played rummy with us, and she always beat us," Julie said.

Dorinda Itnyre said Wanda was grateful to have the time to love her grandmother and to be with her in her final months.

"We always had coffee together before I went to work," she said.

Sitting in her grandmother's kitchen as the memories were being shared, Susan recalled there always were Popsicles in the freezer when she was growing up.

Reaching over, Susan opened the freezer door and discovered, to no one's surprise, that there were Popsicles still in there, waiting for that grandchild ... or great-grandchild who might want a treat.

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