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Holy Spirit resident reflects on life, remembers husband

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)


Esther Flammang, a resident at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, has many fond memories and mementos of her 94-year life including an “Eddie Bear” to remember her deceased husband, Edgar.

Esther grew up in Lawton and received her teaching degree at Wayne State Teachers College in Wayne, Neb. She married Edgar in 1944. They have four children, six grandchildren, four step-grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and 11 step great-grandchildren.

The couple lived on a farm outside of Lawton where their son, Kirk Flammang, still farms. Edgar continued to go out to the farm to help with what he could until he was in his late 80s.
Esther was a teacher for about 17 years, 11 of which she was a first grade teacher at St. Joseph School in Sioux City. She also was a substitute teacher and did home instruction before retiring in 1979.

“I enjoyed everything. It was just wonderful,” said Esther of her years as a teacher. “I had all kinds of parent support – whatever I needed. It was just that way back then. I am glad I taught then.”
She has been a parishioner at Nativity in Sioux City since 1984 and was a parishioner at Immaculate Conception before that. She moved to Holy Spirit Nursing Home in May 2011 and Edgar joined her there in August of 2011.

Special memento

When Edgar died in January 2012, the couple had been married for 67 years. The family decided they needed to do something to remember Edgar – husband, father and grandfather.

“We wanted to have a keepsake or memento of him and the life he lived,” said Kerry Ruehle, Esther’s daughter and Nativity parishioner. “As I looked at his clothes and getting ready to discard them, I wondered about making them into teddy bears.”

Kerry contacted her siblings and the grandchildren to see if they would like to go through Edgar’s clothes and pick out something that symbolized what he was to them. Karen Johnson, an artist from Siouxland Center for Active Generations, made the bears.

“Some of us wanted the coveralls because he was a farmer and that is how we were used to seeing him most of the time,” said Kerry. “The grandkids were used to seeing him more in his blue jeans and flannel shirts. Everybody had a different way of thinking about Grandpa.”

Some of the bears had special logos or pins on them – Acco Seed Corn logo, Sioux City Explorers logo, Bishop Heelan logo and Cargill and John Deere pins.

Esther’s granddaughter, Jenny Flammang, came up with the idea to call them “Eddie Bears.” Somewhere on each of the bears “Eddie Bear” is stitched in Edgar’s handwriting that was found on an anniversary card he wrote for Esther.

“Nathan (a grandson) mentioned something should be on the left side because of the heart,” Kerry explained. “A lot of the bears have either a pocket or ‘Eddie Bear’ on the left side.”

Esther received a bear made of scraps from all of the bears. She thought it was a nice idea to have the bears made and was “glad to have them turn out the way they did. I have mine where I can look at it all the time.”
Jenny said when everyone received the bears, there was candy in the pocket because “he always had candy in his shirt pocket.”

“Mine is in my bedroom,” said Jenny. “It makes me think of Grandpa out on the farm, especially the handkerchief in the pocket.”

“I have mine sitting in the living room in a rocker that used to be Grandma’s rocker,” said Kerry. “I have it sitting with a bear I had made for Mom a few years prior to that. So I have Mom and Dad bear sitting together just to make me think of my mom and dad and special times that we had together.”

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