|Sharon K. Fenton
November 19 1917--April 16 1997
Paula Hildreth is my mom. She died recently but I still think of her in the present tense. Part of her will be with me always because I love her. Paula was the third of twelve children born to Frieda Catherine (Kate) Boettcher and Marvin Cornelius Elston residents of Columbus Nebraska. The family grew up during hard times but refused public assistance.
At age sixteen Mom secretly married Clemence Syslo returned to her home and finished high school. I (Sharon Kaye) was born October 14, 1937--a month before Mom turned twenty. Our family headed to San Francisco, California where they both found jobs--Clem in auto parts and Paula as a secretary. When the marriage failed I was sent to my grandparents in Nebraska-where I stayed for almost two years.
When Mom could manage I returned to San Francisco. She worked long hours and when we could find someone to care for me the sitter insisted on taking our war coupons (for shoes meat and sugar) as partial payment. I remember Mom and me playing at the park sharing a pair of roller-skates splitting a popsicle! Mom married two more times--Ralph Edminster and Harold Hildreth. Neither of these marriages lasted.
Chicago was our home in 1950 where Mom was an executive secretary at Pure Oil Company She worked almost all her life but found satisfaction in her work and took great pride in her excellent skills. She had beautiful handwriting. So much of her identity was related to her work retirement was difficult for her. The adjustment was made easier by her dear dog and constant companion Pookie--a terrier Chihuahua mix--found wandering the streets in Champaign Illinois. They were inseparable! Mom and Pookie came to Ames to be near our family in 1989 and lived at the Sheldon Munn Hotel. They made many friends on Main Street (both residents and shopkeepers) and were a familiar sight on their ambling walks. My mom was a strong and opinionated woman--a perfectionist! She raised a child alone and provided for us well. She was a survivor!
In her most difficult years she overcame an addiction to prescription drugs and emerged strong again. In her last months she even conquered her nicotine habit after fifty years of smoking. I am thankful for these last nine years because Mom and I shared not only time but also philosophies. Family had become very important to her. She cherished the time spent with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and always wished for more!
The Elston Family Reunions brought her brothers and sisters back into her life and were the highlight of her year. Mom had always been a loner. Mom talked to the Lord all through the day and listened for His voice. She shared her stew with her neighbors, took sandwiches to the hotel workers, made popcorn for anyone who asked and would give her last dime to someone in need.
She was waiting to go home to her Lord hoping her actions each day would be pleasing to Him. The months since Mom fell and broke her hip were hard on all of us--but mostly hard on her. I trust that now she is ambling around Heaven with her loved ones and her Lord.
By Sharon K. Fenton. 9/10/97 Descendants of Paula Hildreth Sharon Kaye Fenton/Thomas Eugene Fenton John Michael Fenton / Cynthia Wastlund Fenton John Thomas (J.T.) Fenton David Thomas Fenton / Greg Thielemann Julie Ann Schuster / Allan Schuster Ashlev Lynn Finer Amber Lee Schuster James Brian Fenton / Ann Hitchler Fenton Michael James Fenton Andrew Jacob Fenton Family of Marvin and Catherine Elston George Cornelius Charles Marvin Pauline Clifford Marvin Arlene Lorraine Berger Marvin Charles James Russell Daniel Dean Richard Jean Kathryn Ann (Mitzie) Bord Marlene Joan Brentzel Larry Don.