Copyright 2019 by Dale Fehringer
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
ago, my aunt
Margaret corralled me when I went to visit her. I had recently
retired and was interested in writing; she had recently moved into a
“I want you to
write the history of the Lacy family,” she told me, and she
jabbed her index finger into my ribs. When Aunt Margaret asked you
to do something you took it seriously.
I set about
putting together the story of our ancestors from the time they
immigrated from Ireland. Along the way I ran across the story of Ed
and Wilma. It’s a simple late-in-life love story, but a sweet
(Ed) Lacy was
born May 18, 1898, in the small farming town of O’Connor,
Nebraska, the fifth child (third boy) of Michael and Anna Lacy, who
had immigrated from Ireland. Ed went to local schools, then stayed
at home after graduating from high school and helped his father run
the family farm.
few photos exist
of Ed during that period of his life, generally taken on the farm,
and he is usually in bib overalls. He was shy but hard-working, and
he was dedicated to helping his father run the farm. He was 49 when
he met Wilma.
McCoy, the oldest of 18 children, was born in 1906 and raised on a
farm near Harvard, Nebraska. She obtained a teaching certificate and
taught school in Spalding. It was there she met and dated her first
husband, Joe McCoy. After they married, Joe and Wilma moved to
Greeley, Nebraska (about nine miles southwest of O’Connor). They had
six children (Larry, Don, Francis, Robert, Helen, and
JoAnn). Francis drowned in a stock tank at age two in 1937.
Depression was hard on Joe and Wilma, and Joe went from job to job,
always hindered by asthma and arthritis. He quit farming because of
his health and sold their farm equipment, but not their farmland. Joe
went to Denver to live with his adopted sister and her husband,
and to get a job that would support his family.
died of a stroke December 8, 1945, at age 46 while he was in Denver,
working at the Post Office, earning money to send home to Wilma.
the time of Joe’s death, their four children ranged in age from
12 to 2. Joe and Wilma’s fifth child, JoAnn, was born one day
after Joe died.
son, Don, remembers that his father’s body was shipped home
from Denver and placed in the bedroom with Wilma, who was in bed
after having given birth to JoAnn.
Wilma held JoAnn in one arm and reached out the other to hold the
hand of her deceased husband. She must have wondered that day what
God had planned for her.
remembers her saying, “God has taken one away and given
another.” That left quite an impression on him as a
Joe’s death, Wilma raised the five children by herself. As her
son Don recalled, “Here was this 39-year-old widow in a rented
house with no income and five children to raise.” She and Joe
had hung on to the land they inherited from his father -- one quarter
section (160 acres) of homesteaded farmland. But now Wilma had a
difficult decision to make: sell the land so she could qualify for
government aid or keep the farm and try to get along without
financial assistance. She decided to keep the land and somehow
managed to get by. Those were lean years for Wilma and her family. A
relative of Wilma’s later told her children that Wilma’s
faith was not all that strong before all this, but afterwards she
would go and sit in church and pray for the strength to cope with
everything that was happening.
took in roomers in the house the family shared, and she planted a big
vegetable garden each year. She sold their car because there was no
money for gas and maintenance. She baked bread for the family and
kept a milk cow and sold any extra milk to neighbors. There were
always chickens, which produced eggs and meat. Larry and Don
delivered newspapers to make a little cash for the family.
if life wasn’t already challenging enough for Wilma, she had a
hysterectomy in 1948, and a year later Don and Helen were diagnosed
Lacy met Wilma McCoy in 1948 when he responded to an advertisement
she placed in a newspaper to sell hay. Ed was in the market to buy
hay, and he later told Wilma that he came by to look at the hay, but
also to look at her. He must have liked what he saw. Until he met
Wilma, Ed had been a bachelor farmer who worked, attended church, and
occasionally had supper in town. It seemed he would never marry. But he
and Wilma seemed to click. They dated, Wilma’s children
eventually accepted Ed, and Ed became part of Wilma’s family.
and Wilma married in the chapel at the school in Greeley in November
1949. After the wedding, Ed moved into Wilma’s house and
helped raise her five children, who by then ranged in age from 16 to
son, Don, remembers Ed as a kind and gentle man and a good
stepfather. Going from being a bachelor to a stepfather of five, he
says, must have been daunting.
three oldest children (Larry, Robert, and Don) respected Ed and
appreciated the help he gave their mother. Because they were old
enough to know their birth father, they thought of Ed as their
stepfather, and they called him “Ed.”
two youngest children (Helen and JoAnn) never really knew their birth
father, and they called Ed “Dad”. They treated him as
daughter Helen remembers Ed as a wonderful man and says he was very
good to Wilma and her children. Ed wasn’t real outgoing, she
remembers, but he was friendly and had a good laugh.
and Wilma ran a very busy farm. Ed was a huge help to Wilma and the
boys, and they appreciated each other. Wilma had a partner and Ed
had a family. How nice for them to go to school events together, and
family picnics, and to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries!
lives involved raising the kids and keeping up the farm and they were
active in their community and their church. They occasionally took
vacations, especially when the kids were older, often driving to
western Nebraska or Wyoming to see Ed’s relatives. I think
it’s fair to say those were their happiest days.
died in her sleep in a nursing home in 1982. About that time, Ed
suffered several stokes, which left him partially paralyzed. He
moved into a nursing home in Greeley, Nebraska, where he spent the
rest of his life. His stepdaughter, Helen, remembers him being
frustrated by not being able to care for himself. He passed away in
Greeley, Nebraska June 11, 1985 at age 86. Ed and Wilma are buried
next to Ed’s parents in the cemetery in O’Connor.
and Wilma’s story is one of perseverance and kindness. When
Wilma’s world fell apart she persevered; when Ed met Wilma he
was kind. Together they created a marriage and a family. Their
story brings hope for happiness and love for all of us.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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