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Loretta Marie (Achatz) Kaiser

January 7, 1915 – February 29, 2002

 Born January 7, 1915 at the Achatz homestead North of Ellinwood at 5:00AM .. 5 lbs.

Parents – Anton Edward and Philomena  (Minnie) Helfrich Achatz

One sister – Lorraine – deceased, breast cancer 40+ yrs ago

Her mother baked the day before Loretta was born and burnt the bread. Her Aunt Marie said the Mom’s hair was the same color at that burnt bread.

 Mom was the first born and served as the son. She worked side by side with her Dad on the family farm, and still helped bake bread, garden, can food and sew.

 Sometimes I think that Mom was born a century to early. She was always very independent and had her sight set on doing things that women just didn’t do in her day.

 Her first plan was to become a surgical nurse or a chiropractor. But her father would not hear of it… women just didn’t do that kind of thing. She then decided to go to beauty school. Her father was still not happy with the idea because she had would have go to Omaha, Denver or St. Louis for schooling.  She spent two years in Omaha, going to beauty school and keeping house for a family in exchange for room and board.   After returning to Ellinwood from Omaha and working in some one else’s shop, she wanted to get a loan to buy a building which would house her business below and have an apartment above… but the bank would not make a loan to a woman, much less a single woman. 

Held her beauty license until about 5 years ago. She would go to the homes of aging clients to do their hair and would even take care of them at the funeral home. She kept her fingers in hair care even after coming to Ellsworth by combing one of the lady’s hair every weekend at Drover’s.

She married John Fred Kaiser whom she met when he came to town with an oil field crew and he needed a haircut.

Her marriage to my father John also stirred the pot… he was Lutheran, and she of course, was Catholic.

 Her second child James (Jim) was born prematurely and as a result was mentally handicapped. She chose to have Jim live  at home. The accepted action 50 years ago was to place the child in an institution, and many people counseled her to do exactly that..  She refused.  She laid plans to have Jim attend a public county school but at the last moment the board of education changed their mind and did not allow him to attend. (The schools did not have to accept children, and did not serve children with disabilities until l975). So, Mom with the sisters of St. Rose hospital started the first ‘school’ for children with mental retardation in Barton County. In the years that followed she was instrumental in the creation of ARC - Association of Retarded Citizens.  She was an active member of the ARC and honored by the organization for her volunteer work.

She loved sports.  Mom was a bowler; she bowled in a league for many years and even helped start a bowling league for the other children who attended the school at St. Rose and later Sunflower Services. She was also A K-State fan (where her daughter when to undergrad) and of Ottawa (where her grandson played football).  She always knew the score when either team played.

Born and raise a strong German Catholic. She attended grades 1-8 in the school at St. Peter & Paul’s north of Ellinwood.  Her daughters attended St. Joseph’s school.  Loretta was long-time, very active member of the D of I, holding both the offices of local regent and state regent.  She was active in the Altar Society.  She attended every church sponsored activity and was an active supporter of St. Joseph’s school until her death.

She prayed everyday of her life, but especially in the last six years when she had time to pray for family and friends during her morning and evening devotions.  For many years when she lived in Ellinwood, she attended 6 am mass, almost every day. I often offered my Mom’s powerful praying ability to my friends in need.

In 1995 my family home was flooded. As the weather report loomed with the news of the flood my Mom called to say she was sending me my own band of angels to hold back the waters… The angels did their job for a while but we figured they were needed elsewhere. However, they were still my band of angels but the only way I could keep them was to give them away… and I still do

Her cooking and her generosity with her cooking were legendary.  She always had a loaf of bread or some cookies or some dill pickles to give you if you came to her house.  She was known to have made the best Sloppy Joe mix for the After Harvest Festival Booth.

Mom always said that she raised her daughters to stand on their own two feet.  She also encouraged their friends and her friends daughters to be what ever they wanted to be… she said a woman could do anything a man could do, if she put her mind to it and was willing to work hard enough.

She was an animal lover. A favorite story was when she was a girl her Dad gave her a runt pig and a chicken that couldn’t fly and a dog. These four were the best of friends and would go everywhere together. When Mom would come home from school the pig, chicken and dog would be waiting at the corner for her.  If the chicken got to tired to walk it would ride on the pig or the dog back to the house. Always had a variety of cats and dogs through the years. Animals just went to her. You know what they say about dogs…. They can tell the soul of a person.

Music lover. Played the piano all her life. Had tons of sheet music and a 1908 concert grand piano in an upright case.  We all grew up with her playing the piano, Dad playing the guitar or banjo and singing harmony. The piano moved everywhere she did (just ask her son in law David who moved it!).  When she first moved to Drover’s cottage, everyone was surprised to hear major ragtime music being played down the hall.

Her yard was always full of flowers.  She loved the old fashioned yellow roses that she had transplanted from her parents’ home, to every house she lived in

And, she loved red and bright colors!  Nothing made her feel better than putting on a red dress, her favorite sparkling earring and going out to be with people!  She said it made people happy to see her dressed in something with “wild colors.” 

 The first time Mom became really ill, I was working in Salina, about 80 miles from Ellinwood. The neighbor call, the decision was made to take her to her doctor in Hoisington. I called ahead to David, in Ellsworth ,to go to Mom. As I was driving to Ellsworth I kept telling my self ‘I should have just called an ambulance to take Mom to the hospital. The message I got at my home was that I was to meet them, Mom, David and the neighbor at the hospital at Great Bend. I was so thankful that David had call the ambulance. So I thought…. When I arrived at the emergency room and was visiting with David and the neighbor I asked who called the ambulance each person said, “I didn’t.” We knew that Mom was unable to get to the phone. Some still wonder who called but I knew right away that it was her band of angels.

 She was full of life every day of her 87 years.  Even when she was sick in the last few months, she would talk of just standing up and walking right out of the hospital.  Her body was old, but her mind and her spirit were still young! 

Lightning Bugs a Story  ~ By Kay Bailey


Poems for My Mother II ~ By Ann P. Kaiser






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Last Up-Date   10/21/2007 08:59:47 PM