Mamie Erbe 1930-2021
Mamie Erbe passed away October 31st in Neodesha, her home of more than 70 years...
"Momma and Daddy and seven kids, in five rooms"
Mamie was born Mamie Woodruff in Altoona, Kansas to John and Agnes Woodruff. She was one of seven children, and went to school and graduated from Altoona High in 1948. She had an interest in theatre, as evidenced by the play scripts she gifted one of her sons, which had her role marked and notes on their production. She also began her love of clothing and fashion, and developed the green thumb which would lead to one of the most beautiful front yards in Neodesha many years later.
"A Coke with two straws"
After high school, Mamie got work caring for an elderly woman on a farm near Altoona, and she would later describe the day a young man came riding up on a horse to introduce himself. The man was Fred Erbe, and he would hardly leave her side for the fifty plus years they would spend together. She recalled going to the soda fountain with him, where they would get a Coke with two straws because they just couldn't afford more. They were married on March 12th, 1950 at the Altoona Presbyterian Church.
In 1953, while Fred was serving in Korea, Mamie gave birth to the first of three boys, William (Bill), while living above the grocery store on 4th Street. The second boy, David, would arrive two years later. After seven years of marital bliss with the two boys, Mamie wanted one more try at having a girl. Despite their best efforts, Mamie had her third boy, Terry, and decided to keep him anyway. One of the running jokes of the household was that each of the boys shared the same name, BillyDavidTerry.
Mamie and Fred spent the majority of their lives on Church Street in Neodesha. Both were active members of the Methodist Church, and Mamie was a member of United Methodist Women, Eastern Star, and helped with Scouts. She had worked for a short time at IGA, but the majority of her employment was Beulah's Dress Shop on Main Street. One of the joys of church on Sunday, especially after her hearing started to go, was listening to her belt out a gospel song. No matter how off key and out of tune she might be, she loved to sing and she didn't care who knew it.
The Roaring River Social Club
Fred was an avid fisherman, and Mamie loved camping and the outdoors. The two spent many a day and night on the banks of Roaring River with friends and family. During Fred's life and for 22 years after his death, Mamie was never much for sitting still. She loved to travel and see new places, and her three sons were only too happy to indulge her adventurous spirit. Mamie's list of travels included Niagra Falls, South Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, California and Washington, both the state and the Capital.
Thank you, Jesus
After twenty years of living on her own at her beloved home on Church Street, Mamie moved into Morningstar, where she lived the final years of her life. She was thrilled to have two of her sisters staying there as well, so, for a time, Morningstar seemed to have a "Woodruff Wing." The only surviving member of the seven Woodruff kids is "the baby" Johnny, now living in Las Vegas. Mamie is survived by her three sons, seven grand kids, and eight great grand kids, all of whom are better for having known her.
Mamie's life will be honored in a celebration at the Methodist Church in Neodesha on Friday, Nov. 5th at 10am, followed by her interment at Harrison Cemetary in Thayer and a lunch at the Methodist Church. A visitation will take place Thursday, Nov. 4th from 6 - 8pm at Loran Fawcett Chapel. Memorial contributions can be made to the Methodist Church of Neodesha.
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