Ancestors of the Webster Family

Compiled and drafted by Dan Webster, with editing by David and additions from siblings Richard and David Webster and Mary Ellen Hanks, plus Laura Webster's autobiographical recording. Prepared for the August 2000 Reunion at Pipestem State Park, West Virginia.

Great Grandparents

Lemuel Jackson Webster was born in Gray, Maine, in 1820, but lived most of his life in Louisiana, where he was a grocer and engaged in other mercantile pursuits. Araminta Pierpont (Rice) Walton, a widow, married Lemuel Webster on March 10, 1845. She was a native of Troy, N.Y., born in 1810, and had a daughter by her first marriage. Lemuel and Araminta Webster had two sons, Grayson Taylor and Frank B., and also raised Mary Walton. The family was active in the Presbyterian Church on Lafayette Square, New Orleans.

Lemuel was a friend and admirer of Zachary Taylor (President of the United States 1849-50) and gave his first son the middle name Taylor. Araminta had inherited from her first husband a piece of property, Bride's Retreat, about 15 miles north of Baton Rouge, where they lived part time; but they sold it about 1884. Soon after his wife died in 1885, Lemuel moved to San Francisco, where he died in 1895. One memento of him remains, a gold-headed cane. From L.J. to G.T. to J.L. to J.D. and now with J.R. Webster, the cane's passage through five generations is a gold symbol of our mutual inheritance.

Edward Dillon was born in Waterford, Ireland, in 1820. He emigrated to the United States in 1849 or 50, and became a naturalized citizen in 1855. He had married in Ireland, but her name we don't know, nor whether she died there or in America. They had a daughter, Minnie, who lived in New York. A skilled watchmaker, trained by his father, Edward established a shop at 88 Gravier Street in New Orleans.

Percy (Richards) Dillon, born in 1822 in York County, Pennsylvania, married Edward Dillon in 1854 in New Orleans. The wedding was performed by Dr. W. A. Scott, who left the following day for California and became pastor of St. John's Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. The Dillons had six children -- Edward Jr., John, Percy, Martha, Margaret and William. Edward Sr. served in the Confederate Army, but was discharged, sick, in 1862. The family moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, after the capture of New Orleans, but returned when peace was restored.

In 1866 they moved to San Francisco -- whether by ship or train and stagecoach is unknown -- and there Edward Dillon conducted his watch, clock and chronometer repair business from 1867 to about 1887. His daughter Percy recalled that in those days before radio or even telegraph time signals, her father had to check his own chronometer often with the sun for accuracy. Great Grandmother Percy Dillon died in San Francisco in 1885, her husband Edward eight years later in Oakland.

Harmon Kibby was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, in 1819, moved to Lima, Ohio, in 1848 and married Mercy Ann Purdy there in 1853. Born 1825 in Rochester, New York, she was teaching in a Lima log cabin school during their courtship. The Kibby children, May, Laverne and Clara, were raised in the 12-room house on the old farm on Kibby Street, Lima. Built in 1822, the home stood until 1957 on land platted into city lots in the 1880s. Newspaper accounts recall their move to a new home at 220 South Main Street in 1873, but sale of the old home wasn't until 1898. The Kibby family was active in Market Street Presbyterian Church. Mr. Kibby was a businessman, involved in ornamental iron fence manufacture, bank organization and real estate development. He died in 1902, but his widow lived on in Lima until her death in 1912.

Ira Miller Condit was born in 1833 in Georgetown, Pennsylvania, was graduated in 1855 from Washington and Jefferson College, then in 1859 from Western Theological Seminary. During his final seminary year, he responded to a call for mission work in Canton (Guangzhou), China, and following graduation persuaded Laura Emily Carpenter, principal of the Granville Female Academy in Granville, Ohio, to resign in favor of marriage. Laura Carpenter had been born in Danville, Vermont, in 1837; and although no record has been found, must have attended college, perhaps Oberlin, before teaching school. During six busy weeks after their 1860 wedding, the young couple visited relatives, mission headquarters in New York City and the White House, where President James Buchanan wished them success in China. They sailed from New York aboard the clipper ship "Sword Fish," a 99-day voyage around Africa to Hong Kong. Condit's journal of the voyage and letters home from the young couple to family members illustrate their character and experiences in China (Now in the records of the Presbyterian Historial Society, Philadelphia).

Opening of an evangelistic mission in nearby Fatshan was frustrated by a typhoon that destroyed their home, sending the Condits and their first-born daughter, Mary Ellen (Nellie), to temporary residence in the mission hospital. The young mother contracted tuberculosis, which eventually forced them to leave China in 1865 and return to America. She died December 5, 1866, at her sister's home in Lima, Ohio.

Condit's master of the Cantonese language brought about his return to mission work with Chinese people after three years as a stated supply pastor in Girard, Pennsylvania. The Presbyterian Church had erected a Mission House in 1853 at the corner of Stockton and Sacramento streets in San Francisco as headquarters for work with the immigrant workers from southern China to U.S. west coast states. The brick building still stands. From 1870 until 1904, Condit had charge of that work, not only in San Francisco, but up and down the Pacific Coast as far as Seattle. He established Chinese congregations in Los Angeles, Honolulu, Oakland and other communities. In 1872 an old friendship with Samantha Knox was revived; they married and she joined in mission work, especially with Chinese women and children, culminating in establishment of the rescue home known today as Cameron House.

Awarded an honorary doctorate by Park College in Missouri (another source credits Hastings College in Nebraska), Dr. Condit went into semi-retirement in 1904, but continued many activities. During his long career he wrote and published a Chinese-English dictionary long employed as a (Cantonese) standard, a Chinese hymnbook, numerous pamphlets and one full-length book, "The Chinaman as We See Him." He died in 1915 at Pacific Grove, California.

Grandparents

Grayson Taylor Webster was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1846. He told his children (and Dad told Dan) that he signed up at age 17 as a drummer boy with the Confederate army in 1863 and was sent to Vicksburg just in time to endure the siege by Union forces under General Grant. He spent most of the siege sick in bed with typhoid fever, and was sent home following Vicksburg's surrender. Recovered, he re-enlisted the following year, although search of available state records turned up no confirmation. After the war he traveled in Europe and also in the U.S., furthering his education and acquaintance with the classics of literature.

In 1882 he married Margaret Dillon in San Francisco, a ceremony performed by the same Rev. Scott who had married his parents a quarter century previously in New Orleans. They traveled back to Louisiana, where Grayson started business as a cotton broker in Baton Rouge. That failed, and he worked in a bank for a time, then moved the family back to California and worked in real estate. Several times he sold the house in which they lived, and moved his family. It happened first in Hayward, then two homes in San Francisco, followed by Mill Valley, Oakland and finally Berkeley. During these years, Grayson and Margaret raised four children: Grace, Marjory, Percy (nicknamed Dan), and Jackson Lemuel, our father. A fifth infant, Dorothea, died soon after birth.

Grayson also acquired real estate in Globe, Arizona, which "didn't pan out" when the mines there closed. He often was away from home for long periods to tend properties elsewhere. Involvement in San Francisco real estate development left his name on a city street, which later caused his son to humorously suggest that he'd like to live at Jackson and Webster Streets. Although not adept at business, and perhaps a victim of the 1890s economic depression years, Grayson was a friendly, lovable man. Dad Webster told son Dan, "He was not a good provider."

Margaret Dillon Webster, however, successfully raised their brood with relentless energy, a jolly sense of humor and loving Christian conviction. She had continued her education beyond public high school, attending San Francisco State Normal College (now SF State University) and qualifying for a state teacher's license in 1878. That license carries on its reverse side the record of her qualification exam, in which she earned high marks in all subjects except algebra. She taught school in San Francisco for three years before marriage, and encouraged all their children to attend college. Three of the four graduated.

For a number of years, because of economic hardship, she took in boarders to help make ends meet. She also ran a grocery store in Hayward for a time. At age 60 in 1915, she retained gumption enough to travel to Haines, Alaska, for the wedding of daughter Grace to Robert Shepard, a civil engineer. After Grayson died March 3, 1917, at home in Berkeley, she lived with her daughter, Marjory, and husband David Dickson in Tacoma until her death Sept. 15, 1918.

Laverne Harmon Kibbe (His wife called him "Verne" and business associates employed "L.H.") was born in Lima, Ohio, in 1864. An early memory he passed to grandchildren was watching from the family's front yard fence as Union army soldiers trudged homeward, singly or in small groups, after the Civil War. He attended a business college in Toledo after high school, then worked 25 years for the Old National Bank of Lima, starting as janitor and working up, the last decade or more as cashier. As a young man he had been quite the beau brummel of town, but also was ambitious and hardworking; and as head of the bank staff used his leadership to keep service up to date in every way.

Mary Ellen (Condit) Kibbe, known as Nellie, was born in Canton, China, in 1862, and her family returned to the United States in 1865. After her mother's death in 1866, she was cared for by various relatives until her father remarried in 1872. The rather strict stepmother Samantha (Knox) Condit took over her upbringing. An illustrative recollection by Mary Ellen Hanks is that as a little girl she was playing in the dirt behind the Berkeley home, and mother Laura came out to tell her to stop. "Why are you angry at me for playing in the dirt?" she asked. "I'm not angry at you, but at Grandmother Kibbe, who says she was trained (by her stepmother) to believe that nice little girls don't play in the dirt."

Nellie was graduated from Los Angeles College and taught music in that area for several years. In 1890 she traveled back to Ohio to visit her cousins in Lima, and met the young banker LaVerne, who then wrote and asked permission to visit Miss Condit in Los Angeles the following winter. Her neatly written reply reads "You may come, Mr. Kibbe, to see southern California, but don't make the visit too personal." He visited, she said "Yes," and they were married at her parents' home in Oakland April 21, 1891.

The Kibbes lived in Lima until 1913, when Verne quit the bank and moved his family to Berkeley. He bought a partnership with L.N. Cobbledick in an Oakland glass business, but Mrs. Cobbledick soon died. L.H. then served as president of Cobbledick-Kibbe Glass Company for 42 years. Under his leadership the firm grew into a wholesale glass operation, second largest in California, with four stores in major cities. The Kibbes had three children, all born in Lima -- Laura Ellen (Kibbe) Webster, Harmon Condit Kibbe and Adelaide Florence (Kibbe) Frame Hoffman. All three were graduated from college, and Adelaide became a medical doctor and career Presbyterian missionary in Persia (Iran).

L.H. was active in church and community affairs, serving as elder and clerk of session for St. John's Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, as a trustee and chairman of the board for both San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo and Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, board member of the Oakland YMCA, Rotary Club and Athens Club. L.H. was a kind, level-headed, executive gentleman, also generous in a manner instructive to grateful beneficiaries. His wife also maintained continuing interest in activities outside the home, in particular supporting Cameron House and the Chinese Christian community.

In 1929 Nellie, age 67, found her eyesight failing. She traveled with Adelaide to the Middle East. In Egypt, they rode a camel to the pyramids. In a 1927 Packard touring car, they journeyed from Beirut to the Meshed mission hospital in Persia. Having gone that far, Nellie continued on to China, with a lengthy visit in Canton, then home by ship to California. Because of progressive eyesight failure, she purchased a small portable typewriter and learned to use it for the rest of her days -- a kind, generous, but prim and proper grandmother expecting accomplishments from her children and also grandchildren. Appropriately, she died Easter Sunday, 1948.

After her death, Verne, who continued to attend daily to the glass business, was cared for by Adelaide for a time, then by grandson Richard and wife Helen in the fine home at 33 Eucalyptus Road in the lower Berkeley hills, and finally by Jack and Laura Webster. In November of 1955, L.H. beat his eldest grandson, Dan, in a chess game. The following day he was felled by a stroke, and died a few days later in Alta Bates Hospital, November 13, concluding a long and successful life.

Our parents

Jackson Lemuel Webster was born in Hayward, California, October 3, 1892, the youngest child of Grayson Taylor and Margaret Dillon Webster. During his boyhood the family lived in a succession of homes around the Bay area: Hayward, Mill Valley, two places in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. Jack jokingly attributed his red hair to "tomato fights" with playmates in the vegetable fields near Hayward. In the 1940s Dad Webster was able to show his initials "JLW" that as a youth he had carved into an exterior wall of the old Hayward Presbyterian church -- perhaps during an overlong sermon?

When the great April 1906 earthquake occurred, the family was living on Gough Street between Sacramento and Washington Streets, across from Lafayette Square. Young Jack, age 13, recalled later that he awoke thinking someone was shaking his bed violently. Their home was but a block uphill from a row of houses dynamited to halt the spreading post-earthquake fire that devastated a large area of the city. Jack remembered the time as exciting and fun for boys, although tragic for many people who lost their homes. His mother made washtubs full of coffee which he and his brother lugged across the street and distributed to refugees camping in the park. However, terrified by the approaching holocaust of fire, the family buried silverware and other valuables in the back yard and spent a couple of nights camping in Golden Gate Park before learning their home had been spared.

Laura Ellen (Kibbe) Webster was born February 15, 1892, in Lima, Ohio, the first child of LaVerne H. Kibbe and Mary Ellen (Condit) Kibbe. It was, she recalled, a town of 15-20,000 with an oil refinery. "I can still hear the sound of those oil wells pumping," she told us, "and seeing oily waste in the little creek that ran through town." Her happy childhood included summer visits to the farm home of her Jackson cousins 15 miles away near Ada, Ohio. Another summer, probably 1909, she traveled on an ore steamer from Cleveland to Duluth, Minnesota. In 1907-8 she accompanied her old cousin, Adelaide (Addie) Hawley on an extended visit to Europe. They wintered in Munich, Germany, where Laura took piano lessons, attended the "Gymnasium" secondary school and became fluent in the German language. She spent part of the summer in Oberammergau, residing in the Lang family hostelry.

(In 1990 when a group from The United Churches in Olympia travelled to the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Laura's recollections from her youth revealed a one-in-a-million coincidence. Andrea Castrolang, a granddaughter of the Lang family, was the church's Christian education and youth director.)

Laura returned to Lima after her European visit, but was sent by her family to finish high school studies at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, and continued there for her first year of college. She was most excited by athletic success as a sprinter and long jumper in track. But her father was not satisfied with the education she was getting, and the following year had her transfer to Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, which her mother had long admired. There she majored in German, no challenge to her fluency in the language; but music provided motivation for her to become an accomplished pianist. She also continued her athletic success, running second to a young lady who held the world sprint record at the time. Laura was graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1914.

After graduation from Berkeley High School in 1912, Jack entered the University of California in Berkeley. He "almost" graduated in 1916, but was short a couple of credits, which he took in 1920-21 to qualify for his BA degree in philosophy. Dan recalls Dad reminiscing about courses in English literature, Greek and astronomy. During those college years, he lived at home, but worked many jobs to pay his expenses, including dishwashing at a sorority house and selling Saturday Evening Post magazine subscriptions -- from which a few of his supply of advertising blotters still remain. Summers he worked in lumber camps and as a dining room waiter at Fallen Leaf Lodge on Lake Tahoe. The summer of 1914 he worked on a road construction job at Haines, Alaska, where his sister Grace was a Presbyterian mission nurse at Haines House, and later a public health nurse. Her future husband was a highway engineer.

Diagnosed with petit mal epilepsy in 1908, Jack seemed challenged toward vigorous outdoor activity and athletics. He played center forward on the University of California soccer team, and recalled with a smile that he had scored the winning goal against Stanford in the fall of 1915. During 1916-17 he worked full time at his magazine subscription business, and also became friends with a young kindergarten teacher, Laura Kibbe, while she was home in Berkeley during vacation. They became engaged during the spring of 1917. That summer Jack worked at a lumber camp in Alberta, Canada as a logger and parttime chaplain.

While she was attending Mt. Holyoke, Laura's family had moved to California from Ohio, using a railroad boxcar for both their furniture and to transport the model-T Ford given them by Grandfather Condit with profits from his real estate dealing. Following graduation Laura joined them in Berkeley. There she attended a kindergarten training school for two years, then taught kindergarten in Ventura, California, for a year and a half until marriage cut short that career.

She and Jack planned to follow the footsteps of her maternal grandparents, becoming missionaries in China, but his health problems prevented. Deeply religious as a young man, Jack had been influenced especially by his mother, and also through involvement in the vital Christian ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Berkley. Early in his college years he felt the call to ministry, and in September of 1917 entered San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo.

He tried to volunteer for Army service, but of course was rejected because of his health. The "call to the colors" was stronger however than his appetite for academic theology, and he abandoned seminary after six weeks to enter YMCA service. Jack was assigned to Tacoma as YMCA leader at Camp Lewis, a newly-established training site for thousands of military recruits. There he counseled homesick young soldiers and arranged entertainment. In December he made a quick trip to California, persuaded Laura to leave her kindergarten job in Ventura (to the consternation of the school's principal) and they were married December 30, 1917, in the Kibbe home on Ashby Avenue in Berkeley. Back at Camp Lewis, his new wife accompanied on piano the evenings of group singing led by Jack with soldiers who gathered in the building that now houses the Fort Lewis Museum.

But Jack's health was not good, and a doctor recommended strenuous outdoor labor. The shipyard in Tacoma, looking for workers, took him on as an electrician's assistant. "It may have been strenuous," Jack laughed in later recollection, "but it wasn't outdoors. They immediately sent me down four decks to help wire the propeller shaft tunnel of the freighter they were building."

When the armistice was signed November 11, 1918, work ceased at the shipyard. It was too late to return for the fall term, at seminary; so for the spring semester Jack secured a temporary position as an English teacher at Stadium High School in Tacoma. Mother's teacher training and experience may have influenced the job application and counseled his school-room work, even through her final weeks of pregnancy and first months of motherhood. As an incidental result, Dan's birth certificate, issued Feb. 26, 1919, reads: "Occupation of father: high school English teacher."

Following completion of the school year, the young family moved back to California, and by September they were in residence at San Anselmo, where Jack resumed pre-ministerial studies. He also kept in shape physically by coaching and playing with the seminary soccer team. They were able to visit Palo Alto one year and defeated Stanford University's varsity squad. That evening Leonard Brown, a team player who doubled as carillonneur, climbed the seminary tower and played the "Doxology" on the bells. Next morning, the seminary president asked Brown why the bells had been rung, so late at night. Informed of the victory over Stanford, he said, "Oh, very well! Carry on, Mr. Brown." Jack also coached the seminary team 1924-26, but did not play.

During Jack's final year in seminary, he was licentiate pastor of the little Presbyterian church in Montera Beach, on the coast a few miles south of San Francisco. He was ordained to assume the pastorate of the church in Bend, Oregon (1922-24), and continued ministry in a succession of communities: as Presbyterian student pastor at Stanford University, 1924-26, then in the church at Grants Pass, Oregon, from 1926-28. In 1927 Jack climbed Mt. Rainier with brother-in-law David Dickson in a guided party. Dan recalls that he wanted to go along.

The family sailed north to Sitka, Alaska, in the late summer of 1928, when Jack accepted pastorate of the Presbyterian church serving both the town and Sheldon Jackson School (now college). That was his longest pastorate, from which he resigned on his personal belief that 12 years was the most he should serve one church. Back in California in 1940, he accepted responsibility for a group of small congregations in Newark, Centerville and Irvington, south of Oakland. A fourth church in nearby Alvarado had but a few members and was persuaded by Jack to close, turning the little chapel over to a local Spanish-speaking congregation. When World War II was in full swing, Jack was asked to take on management of the Presbyterian Hospitality House for Servicemen, established in an old mansion on Franklin Street, a block off Van Ness in north San Francisco. When peace resumed and Hospitality House closed, concern for Alaska drew family attention north again, and Jack became pastor of the Presbyterian church in Wrangell. That lasted from 1945-47, when his deteriorating health forced retirement.

Through all these years the family had grown, adding Richard in 1923 and David in 1924, John in 1929 and Mary Ellen in 1931. Johnny died in a tragic accident in October 1932, when an "unloaded" shotgun was inadvertently bumped where it leaned, so that it fell and discharged.

As a pastor's wife through all these years, Laura excelled. She taught the beginners (kindergarten) class in Sunday school, played piano or sometimes reed organ for worship services much of the time, and either sang in or directed the choir in smaller congregations. In addition to keeping house and mothering the family, she was the hostess in the manse and sometimes joined her husband in pastoral calling. Laura was calm but firm, and not without humor. She loved to recount the joke played by a Sitka raven that could imitate a baby's crying to interrupt her work outdoors.

A voracious reader, she kept up with four magazines and was always an active participant in events. Often she had a book propped in front while kneading bread or shelling peas. Some of her favorite times were playing the piano, alone or in duets, or accompanying a friend who played violin. She taught piano lessons for a small addition to family finances, and with varying success taught keyboard skills to each of her children in turn. She enjoyed playing piano for family or group singing in the living room -- and we'll none of us forget the many hymns learned singing around the kitchen stove.

In Palo Alto, her straight-laced cousin Gertrude was visiting, and Mother had strawberry shortcake for dessert. She had hired a lady to help in the kitchen, but didn't want to risk having her carry the dessert plates in, so brought them herself. As Laura was about to put a serving at their visitor's place on the table, Gertrude raised one hand in a sudden gesture, and the heavy china plate with its shortcake and strawberry sauce was unceremoniously dumped on Gertrude's bosom. Dan recalls that he laughed, as any six-year-old would; but Dad couldn't stop laughing until his wife remonstrated. And the kitchen lady, Laura recalled later, was jumping up and down in the doorway, saying "I'm glad it wasn't me, I'm SO glad it wasn't me!"

That was not the only strawbery event in family history. During the Sitka years a fellow pastor, Rev. Eugene Bromley, invited Jack to accompany him on a 10-day mission trip aboard Bromley's boat to visit villages for preaching and vacation Bible school classes. They paused at Pt. Gustavus, outside Glacier Bay, and picked several gallons of wild strawberries. At Hoonah, their next stop, they purchased jars and sugar, then made most of the berries into jam using the boat's little galley stove. Mary Ellen says Mother's recollection was of the terrible mess left in the galley, while Dan's memory is that "we got half the jam."

Many memories from Sitka days illustrate our childhood. Perhaps a most typical picture of those years would have us rowing in the family's 13-foot white and green skiff, often to the islands that ring the town's inner harbor. On those islands we picked blueberries and red huckleberries, enjoyed picnic suppers and on summer evenings rowing homeward marveled at bioluminescence that lit each swirl of the oars and left a sparking wake behind the boat. In winter there was skating on Swan Lake, when school dismissed early on the first day the ice tested thick enough for safety. Ask Dan to tell about trout fishing despite the mosquitoes, or have David tell about cooking pancakes on old stove lids. Each of us can tell stories based on such early memories.

There were the invasions of illness, including scarlet fever, whooping cough, chicken pox, measles and of course flu. In 1933 David came down with osteomyelitis, a bone infection; but Sitka's lone Dr. Hugh Nicholson was able to control it for months. Eventually a town collection enabled the family to transport him to California for specialized care (financed by the Kibbes) and recovery.

Health was a continuing problem for Jack, complicated by a hip ailment he attributed to a soccer injury, which slowly worsened over the years. Alaska Presbytery elected him its 1938 delegate to General Assembly so that he could visit the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on the trip "outside," as Alaskans refer to the south 48 states. Progressive arthritis eventually fused the ailing hip joint, forcing Jack first to employ a cane and eventually crutches. By 1947, facing a medical prognosis based on his petit mal epilepsy that he might have but two years more to live, Jack accepted early retirement -- but he sure didn't quit living, even though he could only weed the garden or pick raspberries by lying down.

The family, with Mary Ellen the only child still at home, moved from Dad's final pastorate at Wrangell to Olympia, where they built a home on three acres near Boston Harbor purchased from the Dicksons. In 1953 Jack and Laura moved to Berkeley to care for her father until his death, then back to Olympia. Jack's inability to continue driving because of his epilepsy and stiff hip had forced Laura to learn to drive at age 57, but as the years slipped past, her eyesight deteriorated (macular degeneration) as had that of her mother and grandfather. So they sold their second rural home and purchased a house close to downtown Olympia where driving was less necessary, and municipal bus service but two blocks distant.

They were active in The United Churches, where Jack taught a Bible class for many years and, as a faithful member of Olympia Presbytery, was often asked to fill the pulpit of a church when a pastor was unavailable. Laura volunteered as a Sunday school teacher and leader, continued active in the Women's Association and served in various ways, including the new building committee after the 1949 earthquake heavily damaged the downtown church. Jack also was involved, helping raise funds for stained glass memorial windows in the new sanctuary at Eleventh and Capitol Way.

"Five moves equals one fire," Laura said. "Either way you lose all your things." The family moved 14 times during Jack and Laura's 55 years together, including seven times when the children were small. But she managed, nor did she lose everything, not even all the family antiques. One regrettable loss was a box that contained many of Dad Webster's sermon notes. He was a good preacher, but we have none of his many sermons. The closest item in that connection is Jack's old pocket Testament, with many pencilled notes, including this couplet:

"To dwell above, with the saints we love,
That will indeed be glory.
To dwell below, with the saints we know,
Is quite another story."

In addition to his weekly adult Bible class, a ministerial luncheon group and occasional preaching until the 1960s, Jack spent a lot of time studying and writing poetry in addition to gardening. One of his sonnets, "Dawn Among the Redwoods," won first prize in the 1964 state poetry day contest. But in 1970 Jack was laid low by a stroke, and spent his last years in a nursing home. It was but a few blocks, and Laura made a daily walk up the hill to visit Jack. He died in his sleep October 19, 1974.

For her last 19 years, Laura lived almost blind -- though she had some remnant peripheral vision -- and alone at 315 North Sherman Street, with only her little dog for company. David and Mary had moved to Olympia, kept in telephone contact, visited often and took her shopping weekly. Dick and Violet Stennett, old friends who had moved from Montesano to a nearby home on Sherman, also were helpful. Violet transcribed the old Condit diary and letters. "Talking Books" for the blind, and also magazines recorded on tape helped Laura keep up with the world, along with radio and television. She kept her flowers blooming, her dog well trained and welcomed visitors. Violet recalled that she knew and sang all four verses of "O Worship the King" one Sunday morning. Her pew at church was almost never unoccupied. Heart problems finally put her into a nursing home for her last three weeks. She died quietly, with Handel's "Alleluia Chorus" playing on the tape recorder by her bed, July 22, 1991, only a few months short of a century. "I don't want to live to be 100," she had told us.

There are many more memories that could be included, such as hiking, fishing, boating, berry picking and camping stories from Sitka, Wrangall and elsewhere, of early family reunions, of Mother's activity with the Blind Club, Dad's political involvement, and so forth. But we have to stop somewhere, and allow our beloved parents/grandparents to rest in peaceful, honored memory.

Lines from a couple of Dad's poems, compiled and printed in the latter 1970s, may provide a fitting conclusion:

"Dawn"
Not dark describes you, Death! All fears erased,
I hurry on across the waiting years
To meet my Maker, find fulfilled the dreams
My soul has known! Each passing day endears
My Savior more. All transient cares are stilled.
My face transformed and branded with his name!

 
"The Unending War"
Sometimes it seems the dark and lowering cloud
Will win. Again, sunlight gleams brilliant, white
With winsome clouds in blue, blue skies that cheer
Our yearning minds and hearts. No need to fear
An ever-loving Lord who lives in light.
He takes us home. Victory rips the shroud!