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Family and faith filled Shupp's life

April 15, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes 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 Esther Pearl Magdalene Shupp, who died April 4 at the age of 78. Her obituary appeared in the April 7 edition of The Herald-Mail.

BIG POOL - When Harry Shupp first met Esther McCarty, he was in the Army and she was a 13-year-old Pecktonville girl. Their 10-year age difference made any serious relationship out of the question.

"But she loved him right off," said her oldest daughter, Linda Yeakle, who said they saw each other off and on for the next seven years before marrying in 1948.

Their marriage was a surprise to family and friends alike.

"Everyone thought she'd marry someone else," Linda said.

But Harry, listening to all of this from the comfort of his late wife's favorite chair, smiled and said he knew from the first time he saw Esther that she was the one.

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"That other fellow they are talking about was from Berkeley Springs, (W.Va.), but she ran him off," Harry said.

Esther, who died April 4 at the age of 78 after some months of declining health, was born in Pecktonville - which is about halfway between Clear Spring and Hancock. She lived about a mile from the old Pecktonville School, which she attended for eight years.

"She didn't have the opportunity to go on to high school," Linda said.

When Esther was growing up, Pecktonville was a tight-knit community where neighbors never felt the need to lock their doors, said Patti Gladhill, another daughter.

"The Parkhead United Methodist Church was the center of the community," Patti said.

Esther's memorial service was lovingly performed at Parkhead by Pastor Scott Summers. "He had only known Mom a year, but they had bonded," Patti said.

All agreed that her faith ran deep.

Joyce Higgins, Esther's youngest daughter, said there were a lot of comments at the memorial service about their mother's homemade chicken noodle soup.

All of Esther's children have memories of her cooking.

"I loved the way she cooked trout," said her son, Scott Shupp.

Patti enjoyed her mother's potatoes and greens, while Joyce said breakfast always was big and delicious.

"There would be a church picnic every year, and she'd get up early to fry chicken," Linda said.

Every Thanksgiving, there would be a butchering in the Pecktonville area, and Esther would fill her freezer with food. "A lot of the food we ate, she raised and canned," Linda said.

Before she was married, Esther and one of her girlfriends would ride the bus to Hagerstown Hosiery to work. But according to Patti, after she married and her children were born, she was at home.

Linda explained that her mother and father actually had their family in three installments. First, Linda and Bonnie Bragunier were born, then six years later came Patti and Joyce.

Following a 10-year gap, Esther and Harry's only son, Scott, was born.

"Daddy was still in the service when we moved here in 1954, just before Bonnie was born," Linda said of the Shupp family home on Pecktonville Road.

Harry said he served a total of 20 years in the Army, first in World War II, then Korea. He wasn't around much in those early days.

Linda said she knows now that money was tight when her father was away.

"But mom never let on," she said, fighting back tears.

All of the daughters remembered their mother using a wringer washer in the basement. "It was our job to haul the water up the steps in buckets and dump it out in the driveway," Linda said.

On ironing day, Esther would iron everything, even underwear.

An accomplished seamstress, Esther made all of her children's clothes, both when they were young and after they became adults. "She made my wedding gown," Linda said.

Life centered around the homeplace, the church and the school when the Shupp children were growing up.

"The only time we went to town (Hagerstown) was at Christmas," Patti said.

Saturday nights found the Shupp girls lining up for their mother to curl their hair with "spoolies" for church the next day.

Bonnie remembers that she and her sisters often were dressed alike when they were young, something they didn't mind and actually enjoyed.

"We never missed a Sunday," Bonnie said. "We were always in church together, every week, never fail."

Adjusting to life without his wife of 58 years, Harry had been Esther's main caregiver for the past six months.

"I got her up in the morning, cooked her oatmeal and spent the day with her," Harry said.

The daughters took her to dialysis and saw to other needs.

"We wanted to be the best daughters we could be," Linda said.

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