Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hess Family Memorial Reunion (Road Trip 2014)

Dear friends,

This past weekend I had the immense privilege of attending the Hess family reunion at Frances Slocum State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania. We've had many reunions here, but this one was special because it was combined with a memorial service for my maternal grandparents, Henry and Dorothy Hess. Grandpa passed away in 2010 and Grandma in January, but it was their wish that the memorial service be delayed until both of them had died and we could schedule it with a summer reunion. This is how thoughtful and practical they were. They also left money for a full catered lunch instead of our usual potluck meal.

I know that most of my blog readers are not related to me, but I think what I'm writing here provides a little perspective on preserving family heritage and connections, as well as ideas for memorable gatherings.  There are a lot of links at the bottom, too!

This year we had over 70 people, most of them descendants of my great-grandparents Charles and Mary Hess.  We also had three from the Ransom clan on my grandma's side of the family, as well as a few friends who came with Uncle Henry's family.

We started the day with a memorial service at the family grave site in the nearby Fern Knoll cemetery, where Charles, Mary, my infant uncle David, and some of the Hess cousins are buried. Grandma, Grandpa, and my mother were all cremated, so we scattered their ashes among the grave stones. My mother's four siblings each shared a poem, thoughts, or a song.  My father and I each shared our memories, and so did two or three of my mother's cousins. I spoke of my admiration for my grandparents and my mother, my deep affection for the extended Hess family, my appreciation for their emotional support and generosity toward my children and me, the legacy of thriftiness and resourcefulness that so many of us share, and my love for this area of Pennsylvania which holds so many dear memories in my heart.

I started attending the Hess (every several years) and Ransom (used to be every year) family reunions when I was a small child. The first one I remember is 1976 when I was 12, and that was extra special since that is where I became a Christian. (See My Story of Liberty in 1976.) Another notable reunion for me was in 2006 because I reconnected with some of my second cousins, who are now dear friends. I love how we can encourage one another, and especially appreciate how one of my second cousins just reminded me to keep training my children in the ways of the Lord.  

Second cousins Dorothy, Naomi, and Amelia
are enjoying the reunion tradition of painting birdhouses.
Second cousins Jeremiah, Melody, and Henry IV
enjoyed themselves together
at Hershey Park the following day.

Charlie (left) was Dad's roommate
at King's Point Merchant Marine Academy.
He introduced my parents, which is how
my dad became part of the Hess clan. 

My grandpa loved fun stuff like the
snapping alligator candy dispenser.
He also had an incredible stuffed cat
that started purring and then went spastic.

There is a story behind this chiming clock!
Grandma and Grandpa apparently never
bought birthday and Christmas presents for each other.
However, many years ago, Grandpa asked my cousin Judy
to take him to buy this clock for Grandma for Christmas.
Since my grandparents lived with my parents for the
last several years, it has hung on their dining room wall.
Grandpa had requested that Judy receive this clock,
so I brought it up from my Dad's house for her.
I will miss its hourly chimes, but I'm so happy
that she can savor this sweet memory!

I'm also so thankful that our
Ransom cousins, Gail and Lyn,
joined us from my
Grandma's side of the family.
One highlight of the day was browsing
through all of the vintage photos and
news clippings.
One of my aunts also put out photos from
my grandmother's albums so we could
find pictures of our own families
and take what we wanted.
I gathered them for my brother John and sister Barb,
since they were not able to attend this year.
I quickly pocketed the one
of a teenage me in a swimsuit.  :-)

This picture, from the 1976 Hess reunion,
is of all seven of the original siblings.
My grandpa is third from the right.
Behind them is a chart with a complete
family tree so we could all figure out
where each other fit in.

My mother's four siblings,
Dick, Barbara, Henry, and Nancy

My great-grandparents, Mary and Charles,
with their two oldest children, Amelia and Ruth.
I have a framed copy of this photo on my bookshelf at home.

Isn't Mary Graves Hess elegant?
She was named for her grandmother,
Mary Graves.
My mother and my oldest daughter
carry on the Mary name tradition,
as do some of the Hess cousins.

(Special thanks to my father and my Uncle Dick for allowing me to use their photos in this post.)

Lots of links!

Hess Reunion 2014:
Tributes to my Grandparents and Mother:  

Food from the Hess Clan:  
Stories from Other Hess Reunions:
Road Trip 2014: 

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely family reunion! The vintage photos are priceless.


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