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Magnificent Moms

Wikimedia Commons / Charles W. Bartlett

Magnificent Moms

For Mother's Day, we are remembering a few mothers and mother figures who have touched hearts and shaped lives.

Doris Wilson (Salt Lake Tribune)Doris May Wilson, who died April 21, 2011, would have turned 98 on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2011. Her obituary in the Salt Lake Tribune is a loving tribute to the "beloved mom, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend" who was alternately known as "Bessie, Mazy, Mama, Grams, Grammy and GG."

"She was most proud of her children: Suzanne, who passed away at age 5, and Bill, who passed away at age 67. She was heartbroken to have outlived them."

Wilson’s motherly role didn’t end with the deaths of her children. She continued to be a mother figure to her daughter-in-law, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

They expressed their love and appreciation for her in her obit with the kind of sentiments all mothers hope to hear:

"Mom, you have given so much and asked for so little in return. Thank you for always being there for us, for teaching us, listening to us, helping and forgiving us, loving us, and always, always paving the way for us. We will work hard to reach the standard you set. Farewell sweet mama. You were simply magnificent."

Here are some other magnificent mothers:

Jean Malone (Asbury Park Press)Jean Beck Malone was described by her family as “a devoted, fun-loving mother, who always gave of her time and heart” in her obituary from the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey.

The family also wrote that the former Girl Scout leader, who died April 20, 2011, at age 85, took her kids ice skating and sledding in the neighborhood as they were growing up.

“She nursed injured wild birds back to health and instilled in her daughters an appreciation of the outdoors and respect for all living creatures.”

Each member of Helen Frances Kilpatrick’s extended family “has fond memories of stopping in to see Mom/Grandma and spending hours visiting around the large dining table,” according to her obit in the Denver Post. Here's how her family described the 97-year-old former schoolteacher:

A woman of boundless energy and a strong sense of duty who believed intensely in the importance of a safe, secure, and healthy environment for her family. She worked tirelessly to provide that and raised her 12 children in a house that always seemed to hold the aroma of freshly baked bread.

I can almost smell the bread now.

Lillie Craig had no children of her own, but was a second mother to eight children: four from her job as a nanny; and four stepchildren from her marriage to a widower.

“She was 90 and credited her longevity to her love for children,” columnist Gerry Hostetler wrote in the Charlotte Observer.

And the kids loved her back.

‘Lillie raised us,’ Patty [O’Herron Norman] said of herself and brothers, Eddie, Billy and Ken. ‘She was our second mother, and there were lots of little wonderful things about her that we loved.’

Craig was probably in her 20s when she and the O’Herron kids learned to read together. She also learned to drive a car, so she could chauffeur her charges to and from their various activities.

The O’Herrons kept her in their employ for 65 years – long after their children were grown – according to an obituary by the family that ran in the paper several days before Hostetler’s story.

Kay Haubois (The News Journal) Kay Davitt Haubois, who also had no children of her own, worked with youngsters as a teacher for 30 years and also “was a dedicated foster mother for over 25 years, providing a loving home to over 100 foster children between December 1974 and June 1999,” according to her obituary in The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware.

One of her foster kids wrote this lovely tribute in the online Guest Book:

"Thank you for opening your heart and home to so many foster kids. You never gave up on me and you never stopped short of the miracle. Because of what you gave to me, I’m now able to give back to others."

May mothers everywhere live up to the standards set by these women and may their obituaries someday reflect that.


This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.