Pioneer Day: Bennie Taylor

I know this is several days late, but I had one more person I wanted to recognize. This person is some one that I have never met, but to whom I will forever be indebted. Bennie Louise Taylor was born in 1928 here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 
Prior to adopting Aaron, she had met some LDS missionaries and joined the Church. Aaron was the only child that she ever adopted, and she raised him as a single mom. She knew there was something special about Aaron, and made sure that he was steered down a righteous path. Bennie encouraged Aaron in school, church, and sports, and helped him prepare for a mission, college, and marriage. She taught him so many things for which I am grateful, including laundry, cleaning, and patience. 
I know that Bennie faced many trials throughout her life, including cancer twice and hardships with her kids, but she remained strong. She kept the faith, and taught Aaron to do the same.

This is Aaron and Bennie when he was still young.
Aaron with his sister, Adrienne, Bennie, and cousin when he got home from his mission.  
Everyone who knew Bennie absolutely loved her. She was kind, funny, and a true Southern lady. I am immensely grateful that Bennie joined the church, and strove to provide a better life for Aaron. She was a pioneer within her family, and continues to have an effect on their lives. I am looking forward to one day meeting this wonderful woman.

Pioneer Day: Chester McBride

Another one of the pioneers in my family is my great-grandpa, Chester Laverne McBride. Grandpa Chet was born May 14, 1917 in Minnesota. Married in 1940 to Juanita Monte Lewis, they had one daughter, my grandma Nita. Grandpa Chet played the trumpet in bands at the clubs, and always had such a lively spirit.

Grandpa Chet is someone who followed his heart when he knew what was right. About 10 years ago, my grandparents moved to Utah and brought Grandpa Chet and Grandma Juanita with them. After moving to Utah, Grandpa Chet starting taking the missionary discussions and decided to join the LDS Church. He was baptized on May 14, 2004, which was his 87th birthday. He faithfully attended church every week in his bolo ties, and went through the temple a year after he was baptized. It is amazing that even though he had lived a long time, he still was willing to change and improve his life.

Grandpa Chet died in 2008, about 4 years after Grandma Juanita. He had a lively spirit and was happy, even when life got hard. I miss Grandpa, and I am glad I will see him again one day.

Pioneer Day: Thelma Haase

Yesterday was Pioneer Day, so I decided in celebration I wanted to post about some of the people I consider to be pioneers in my own family history. Pioneer Day is a celebration of LDS members about the day that Brigham Young entered the Salt Lake Valley. He entered on July 24, 1847 and so every year on this day we think about all pioneers, but especially the LDS pioneers, who crossed the plains of the United States, starting in 1847 until the completion of the railroad in 1869. Although none of these early pioneers are my relatives, I still have a deep appreciation for the sacrifices that they made the early years of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Although I am not related to the early LDS pioneers, I have had a number of individuals in my family who I believe are pioneers and have made possible so many of the wonderful blessings that I enjoy. One of these individuals in my great-grandma, Thelma Vernal McFarland Haase. She was born in 1921 in Oklahoma, just years before the start of the Great Depression. When Grandma was just a little girl, her family moved from Oklahoma to Northern California, where she met Willis Franklin Haase. They got married and had three little girls: Patsy (who died as an infant), Shirley (my grandma), and Peggy.

Grandma Thelma is a pioneer in my mind for several reasons. Although she did not make the trek west in the 1800s, she did move to California during the Great Depression, which was similar. She always worked hard to provide for her family and better their lives. I am very grateful for the opportunities that she provided for her girls. Grandma Thelma’s dad did not believe that girls should be educated, so Grandma never even graduated from high school. She encouraged her girls to get an education, who then encouraged their kids for more education. I am the first person in my family to earn a Master’s degree, and I am grateful for that opportunity and that Grandma started the change with her kids.

She loves Nascar and watches all the time, even though she is legally blind now.

Last week, Grandma Thelma fell and broke her hip. We are grateful that she had surgery immediately and  is feeling better. I love my grandma so much, and I am grateful that I have been able to know her. She is super funny, has weird sayings, and is a total Okie. I hope she is around for many more years and can continue to be an example to all of her posterity.