BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Behind every son or daughter killed in action is a Gold Star Mother.
Thanks to the efforts of the Whitehouse American Legion Post 384 and historians John and Verna Rose of the Waterville Historical Society, 10 area moms will be remembered for their own sacrifices.
“We have been wanting to do this for a while,” said Legion member Wayne King.
With the Legion seeing the financial impact of the pandemic, King had to postpone spending $450 on Gold Star Mother standards – markers that will hold the American flag and be posted at gravesites – until recently.
Last week, King arrived at Wakeman Cemetery and met up with the Roses, Fallen Timbers Union Cemetery District sexton Rory Hartbarger and new assistant sexton Troy DeWitt.
The four walked to the grave of Bessie Louise (Cobb) Waffle. Many might recognize the last name of Waffle, as Bessie’s daughter Lois was a longtime librarian at Waterville Library. Lois’s brother Ralph was 28 when he headed out to fight in World War II. He was killed in St. Lo, France, on August 14, 1944.
The Roses know all of the veterans and area settlers buried in the Wakeman, as they recorded every lot, copied every burial card and did research on dozens of them. That work is detailed in the WHS book Walking Through the Wakeman. The couple followed up with Civil War Veterans, detailing those buried at Wakeman and Whitehouse cemeteries.
Since joining the cemetery district as sexton, Hartbarger has organized the records and maps in addition to arranging burials and maintaining five area cemeteries: Wakeman, White-house, Rupp, Winslow and Mennonite.
“You have made taking care of this cemetery easier,” Hartbarger told the Roses.
Their research shows a total of 10 mothers deserving of the Gold Star Mother designation. In addition to Waffle, these include:
• Anna Sarah (Fischer) Noward was the mother of Delvin Noward, who enlisted in the Army on September 25, 1944. He trained at Camp Walters, Texas. and was transferred to Co. C, 182nd Infantry, which embarked in February 1945 for the Pacific Theater. While attacking the city of Tabuelon on Cebu Island in the Philippines on April 26, 1945, he was instantly killed. His parents, Lester and Anna, are buried in Wakeman Cemetery.
• Lydia (Studer) Christman was the mother of Emery Christman. He was 23 when he enlisted and began training with the Army on August 28, 1918, but he died of a combination of Spanish influenza, measles and pneumonia while at Camp Taylor, Ky., on October 30, 1918. He was survived by his parents, Frederick and Lydia, and five sisters.
• Evelyn Mae (Kibbe) Hussey was the mother of Robert Infalt, a member of the U.S. Navy who was lost at sea with the submarine U.S.S. Golet on June 14, 1944. He was 19.
• Winnifred Buehler was the mother of Conrad J. Buehler Jr. His father was a minister. Conrad was born on November 2, 1935 and died on October 10, 1956 when his C-118 crashed off the Azores.
• Mary Helen Huebner was the mother of Terry Lee Huebner, who was born on December 1, 1946 and was killed on June 22, 1969 in Vietnam. His father was Arthur Huebner.
• Agnes Graf was the mother of Elsworth Graf, who was born on September 18, 1921 and died on November 20, 1944 in Germany. His parents, Albert and Agnes, are buried in Wakeman Cemetery.
• Ella V. (Campbell) Gourley Fisher was the mother of Robert Clark Gourley, born on February 11, 1898. He was wounded on June 8, 1918 during the Battle of Marne and died a few days later. He is buried in the American National Cemetery in France. In 1920, the Waterville American Legion Post 463 was formed and named in his honor.
• Cleta (Dunford) Myers was the mother of James Charles Boxell, born on July 7, 1926 to Cleta and Earl Boxell. While in the Navy, he was in three major engagements, earning a Purple Heart for a shrapnel wound in the arm while on active duty in Tinnish. He was home on leave when he was killed in an auto accident on September 27, 1944.
• Mary (Barnett) Pollock was the mother of Esther Glee Pollock, who was born on March 25, 1892. Esther was an Army nurse during World War I and was serving at Fort Taylor, Ky., when she caught the flu and died on October 13, 1918. Her parents, James and Mary, are buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Bailey Road.