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Faith, family and farm were most important to Stella Hendershot

August 05, 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 Stella V. Hendershot, who died July 27 at the age of 91. Her obituary appeared in the July 29 edition of The Herald-Mail.

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - Even as Stella Hendershot's family members were saying goodbye to the matriarch of their family, they were looking ahead to the birth of a second great-great-grandchild in January.

"If it's a girl, she will be named Stella ... after my grandma," said Sara Hendershot as she gathered with family and friends Monday at the Warfordsburg Presbyterian Church Faith Center.

Sara slept on the floor next to her beloved grandmother's bed during the last few days of her life, holding her hand, so devoted was she to this woman who loomed large in Sara's young life.

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Stella Hendershot died July 27 at the age of 91.

Another granddaughter, Dawn Palmer, remembers growing up on the farm next to Grandma's in Warfordsburg.

"I was there every day," she said. "When I think of Grandma's, it was home to me."

After Stella's husband, Kenneth E. Hendershot, died in 1984, she continued to live at the farm, which first was established in 1889.

"She didn't want us fussing over her," Dawn said. Nor did she want anyone moving in with her.

Stella and Kenneth had worked the 236-acre farm beginning when they married when Stella was quite young, according to her son, Earl.

Paul Hendershot added that his mother only was able to finish the eighth grade because of the impact of the Depression and the early death of her mother.

Those two events meant she and her siblings were placed with families to live and to work.

Once married, Stella began raising her own family. First came Lois and, five years later, Paul. Daryl was born five years after Paul, followed by Earl two years after that.

"I did a lot of baby-sitting - the unpaid kind" for her three younger brothers, Lois said.

From their early years, the four children were expected to do their share of farm work.

"We fed chickens and gathered eggs - we did everything, and I don't ever remember minding it," Lois said.

Earl said he knows they worked until the work was done, and sometimes that was well after dark.

Lois still lives next door to the family farm, and all three boys are within 21/2 miles of "home."

When she was well into her 80s, Stella still wanted to get to the barn and do some farming chores.

"When she couldn't get up the hill on foot anymore, they got her a golf cart," Lois said of her brothers.

From that cart, Stella would feed the calves, put food out for the barn cats and take care of her geese.

Sara recalls when one of Grandma's geese flew into the side of a truck and broke its leg.

"Grandma took it to the vet and had him put a cast on it," she said. "That was 10 years ago, and that goose is still around."

Daryl still lives on a farm, but he's not a farmer.

"I was educated as a teacher, but that only lasted one year," he said. Now semiretired, he worked in industry for many years.

"Mom always loved seeing her grandchildren," Daryl said, especially her two granddaughters. "Sara was there all the time, and my daughter, Dawn, would come down often from Greencastle (Pa.)."

Stella also had eight grandsons.

When asked about a favorite food cooked by their mother, both Earl and Paul remarked on her homemade breads.

"I'd put her bread up against anyone's," Paul said.

Stella tended her flower gardens well into her 80s, and delighted in filling bud vases at church functions with the cuttings from the garden.

So proud of his daughter, Earl's eyes teared up when he spoke of Sara's devotion in her grandmother's final days.

"Nobody had to ask her, she just did it," Earl said.

For Sara, her love and attention was the least she could give after all her grandmother had done for her through her young life.

"She was more than a grandma ... she was my best friend, always honest and genuine," Sara said. "Grandma supported each and every one of us."

Sara said her grandmother always said the three most important things in life were faith, her family and the farm, in that order.

Stella's home always was the gathering place and will continue to be so, Dawn and Sara said.

"Grandma would like that," Sara said.

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