I never thought I would get a call that said my dear Aunt Sis was gone, until much later. She was healthy as a horse she always told me and she was only on one prescription, she was proud to say. She had gotten up Friday morning fixed her cup of coffee and probably her one piece of toast with a little peanut butter spread on it. She had then set down at her kitchen table opened her newspaper and started sipping on her coffee. Thankfully Uncle George was able to go out to Clovis this past summer with his niece, Crystal, Uncle Jack’s oldest daughter and visit with Aunt Sis. Here is a picture that Crystal took while they were there. Crystal said, that if they were setting down it was always together and they would hold hands the whole time. Aunt Sis told me they had a wonderful visit and Uncle George told me about his visit to when I called and talked to him.
Her morning routine was to eat her toast, drink her coffee and then check the weather for the areas where her family lived. She always checked Kentucky for Uncle George and Uncle Bobby’s area, then Oklahoma for her sister, Dale’s family there, then here in Utah for my family, then she would check and see what her area was going to be like. She next would look at all the obituaries and she loved to read about what was happening in Hollywood. Once she was done she would get ready for the day, usually turn on the TV watch a little news, she didn’t like to watch very much, because she said it was so depressing anymore. More than likely she would watch episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond or The Big Bang Theory, she had all the seasons for both on DVD and she had her favorite episodes as well, that she would watch over and over. She loved Elvis too and had a number of DVD’s of him singing or his movies that she also watched over and over.
Uncle Norris had left me a message on Facebook to call him and when I finally saw the message I did just that and he told me that he had tried to call her a couple of different times yesterday morning and when she didn’t ever answer he had his caretaker, Steve, run over to the house and see what was going on. The house was locked and Steve went around to the back to look in the windows and saw her slumped over on the kitchen table, she had never finished her coffee. I am so thankful that she was able to go so quickly and that now she is with her siblings and her parents that have gone on before. She missed them so much and would talk about all of them for hours. I know she was welcomed with loving arms by all of them and my Daddy is probably singing some of her favorite songs right now.
Back in 1997 my Daddy, her little brother, Tog, had written a short little bio about each of his nine siblings and here is what he had to say about Aunt Sis. “Violet, or ‘Sis’ as most of us called her, was the first one of the Beard children to graduate from high school. She graduated from Woodlake Union High School in June 1953. (This is in Woodlake, California). After a trip to Kentucky to visit Mother and Pa, she came back to Woodlake where she dated and then married, Norris Dean Mahan in December 1954 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She and Norris raised their three children and still live in the Fresno, California area. Sis worked for David & Sons, packing and processing sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and other munchies for many years and retired from the job in 1995. She is one of those rare gals that never seems to age. Her hobbies that I know of is collecting antiques and going to yard sales. She has a bumper sticker that reads, "This Car Breaks for All Yard Sales". Sis is a special sister and friend. She has had a lot of trials in life but is always able to overcome them with a smile.” My Daddy thought the world of her and of all of his siblings.
Violet Joy Mahan was the daughter of Aubrey David Beard, 1895-1974, and Jessie Doss, 1899-1984, and the twin sister of Jackie Loy Beard, 1934-2004. Aunt Sis and Uncle Jack were born in Providence, Webster County, Kentucky. The following are some pictures I have seen and scanned, showing Aunt Sis and her twin brother, Jack, with their mother and with their father.
Aunt Sis and all her siblings had your typical childhood, but it was pretty rough sometimes though. Food was scarce and the homes they lived in sometimes let the rain and snow blow through the cracks and onto the beds they slept on. Aunt Sis didn’t like to talk too much about when she was a kid, but every now and again when I was visiting she would tell me little stories here and there and my Daddy told me lots more so I can kind of fill in some blanks. In 1942 the Beard family, containing, Aubrey, Jessie, and their children Helen, George, Dale, Don, Jack, Sis, Tog and Bobby were living on Walker Street in Marion, Kentucky, this was an unusual place for the family to be living as they had mostly lived out in the country somewhere their entire life. As a matter of fact, on the 1940 census they had been living out by the Love Graveyard, so they hadn't lived in town for very long. Jessie’s two oldest sons, William Teague and Harold Walls were both in the military and serving overseas or getting ready to go overseas in the war. Aubrey was working as a general contractor at the time, as he had been for many years. His specialty was paper hanging, and he was the best in the area according to many that knew him. Aubrey and Jessie didn’t have a very good marriage and were separated off and on and finally in 1942 they got a divorce. The divorce decree stated that seven of the children, Helen, George, Dale, Don, Jack, Sis and Tog were to live with their father, the baby, Bobby, to stay with his mother.
When I was back home in 2012, Uncle George and Uncle Bobby told me that the house they had lived in by the Love Graveyard was still standing and they told me how to find it, so I went and took a picture of it. It was pretty cool to stand there and listen to the wind blowing through the trees and thinking about my Daddy and all his siblings living there and playing there. Here is what it looked when I was there.
Here are some more pictures of Aunt Sis and her siblings. The first picture is Harold, Helen, George, Don, Dale and the twins, Jack and Sis, in the buggy. Next is one I have always loved, Aunt Helen is setting in the doorway, then from left to right is my Daddy, Tog, then Uncle Jack in the middle and Aunt Sis beside him. The next Aunt Sis doesn’t look to happy but her world was being turned upside down around the time this picture was probably taken. The last picture was probably taken around Woodlake somewhere and Aunt Helen, who my Daddy always called his other mother, has her arms around Aunt Sis and Uncle Jack.
It was shortly after the divorce that Aubrey took his seven kids and left Kentucky for Woodlake, California. Woodlake was where Aubrey’s mother had lived and where his sister, Nina and his brothers, Duell and Petieman were living. They left Marion, Kentucky and went over to Princeton, Kentucky and caught a train for California. They were on a military troop train for most of their journey. Aunt Helen told me about all the military men and how handsome so many of them were and that she flirted all the way across the country. The trip started out to be fun and exciting for these poor little Kentucky kids, but it also was a very long, dirty, boring and exhausting ride for kids who were used to running wild all over Crittenden and Webster Counties. Jack even got lost for a while and Helen and George and some of the soldiers on the train helped the family look through all the cars for him. For a while there they thought the 8-year-old boy may have somehow gotten off the train at their last stop, but thankfully he was sound asleep right under the seat where Papaw Beard was setting. Aunt Sis said she really didn’t remember any of that train ride even though she was eight years old at the time. Daddy remembered quite a bit and Uncle George remembered even more when I ask him about the trip.
After the family arrived in California things were pretty tough until Papaw Beard could get a job and get them all settled. They lived with Aunt Nina and Uncle Clyde for a little while, then they lived out at McGee’s Camp on the outskirts of Woodlake and then finally Uncle Duell, Papaw Beard’s brother, told them they could live in the house he had built for their mother if Papaw Beard took care of Uncle Petieman their handicapped brother. Papaw Beard agreed and they moved into that little house on Walnut Street in Woodlake, here is a picture of that house with Uncle Duell’s car in the driveway. Daddy always said it was the nicest house he ever lived in as a kid. Aunt Sis told me lots of stories about this house and how much she loved living there.
Aunt Sis was pretty popular at school from everything I have heard, she was a beautiful young woman and was the first of her siblings to graduate from high school, which she did in June of 1953. Aunt Sis went back to Kentucky right after graduation to visit her mother and stayed for a little while but came back to Woodlake and soon started dating Norris Mahan. They were married in December of 1954 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The following are just a few pictures of this beautiful Aunt of mine. In the one picture she is with her cousin, Peggy Lou, Aunt Nina’s granddaughter. The last two pictures in this section is of my Daddy and Aunt Sis who are in the middle and two of their friends and then Aunt Sis in the front a friend in the middle and my Daddy on the back.
Aunt Sis loved all of her siblings, but she and her sisters had a very special bond. I have a few pictures of her with these sisters, Aunt Helen and Aunt Dale, man did she miss them after they both had passed away. The first picture is in about 1938, then about 1947 and then about 1951 probably. Then Aunt Sis with some of her siblings in later years, from left to right Tog, Helen, William, Dale, Sis & Bobby.
Aunt Sis and Uncle Norris would have celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary this next month. They became the parents of three children, Karen, Debbie and Brian, and the grandparents to ten grandchildren and one great-grandson. Aunt Sis sure did love her family and was always telling me about what each of them were doing, she was proud of all of them. Uncle Norris was so heart broken when he told me yesterday about Aunt Sis, I know he loved her very much and will miss her every day. The following are some pictures of them and their family.
The first picture is of Aunt Sis and Uncle Norris right before they got married, then shortly after. Next, Debbie, Brian and Karen. Finally, Aunt Sis and Uncle Norris with their three kids. Then Aunt Sis and Uncle Norris in later years.
Brian took his Mom back to Kentucky in 2015 to see her brothers, George and Bobby and they had a wonderful time. She was so happy that she was able to go back one more time to see her old home and to see all of her family there. The following are a few pictures that were taken on that trip. With her brothers, George on the left and Bobby on the right. Then with her brother, Don’s kids, Aaron, Cindy, Glendal and Becky, and then with a couple of her brother, Jack’s girls, Joy in the one and Crystal in the last one. She loved all of her nieces and nephews and they all loved her too.
My husband, Roy worked out in Fresno for five years going out there pretty much every month until February of 2015. I went with him just about every time and would drop him off at work and then go to visit with Aunt Sis and Uncle Norris and spend the day with them while Roy was at work. Sometimes I would take Aunt Sis and we would drive to Woodlake. She always wanted to go to the cemetery and then drive past the house on Walnut Street. It is still standing, though it has been remodeled and added on to so that it no longer really resembles the old house she lived in as a child. We always drove past Aunt Helen’s house too and once Billy was home so we stopped in and visited with him for a little while too. I took her up to Sequoia National Park a couple of different times and we would stop in Three Rivers and have ice cream at the little shop that she said had been there for a very long time. She loved her ice cream that is for sure.
I have sure missed my visits that I had with her, but I know she is in a better place with her parents and her siblings who she missed so very much. I had just sent her a card last week with a picture of the dolls she has given me over the years and how I had found a place for them to display in my updated office.
Karen sent me a text and sent me a picture of the card and the picture that was on the counter at her Mom’s house. Uncle Bobby called me yesterday and he is so sad and heartbroken too and he said Uncle George was taking it pretty hard too. He just wanted to let me know that he loved me and that he prays for all of us all the time. That is what family is for and I am so happy I was able to go visit her and get to know her better than I ever had before.
Aunt Sis you were loved and will be missed by so many, tell my Daddy and my Momma hi for me and I love all of you so much.
Written by her niece, Vickie Beard Thompson on 20 Nov 2016