Eileen Bryant, 89, of Oxford, died Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, at Colonial Manor Care Center in Amana. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at St. Mary’s Auditorium in Oxford, with burial to follow at the Oxford Cemetery. Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the auditorium in Oxford.
Eileen Shebetka was born Oct. 10, 1923, in Oxford, the daughter of Martin and Lillian (Schropp) Shebetka. Growing up here she attended Oxford Schools, graduating from Oxford High School in 1941. On May 2, 1942, she was united in marriage to Jean Bryant in Oxford. One month later, Jean was drafted into the military. He served in the Army which included 27 months overseas working on the Burma Road. During World War II, Eileen was the definition of the war bride: she followed Jean in service to their country by working a number of various jobs — from ammunition inspections at Western Cartridge Co. in Wood River, Ill., testing mortar shells in Port Clinton, Ohio, to being Rosy the Riveter on B-29 airplanes in Detroit, Eileen did her part. She also worked at U.S. Rubber building tires, Nabisco Cookies in Georgia, and as a waitress in Pomona, Calif., and Cheyenne, Wyo.
Following the war, she and Jean returned to Iowa, where they farmed and raised their seven children. She was a true partner in farming as well as a homemaker and gardener. She spent a lot of time in a tractor seat with tractor-pulling trophies to prove that skill. When Jean was employed away from the farm, she was an able farm manager and made executive decisions such as purchasing their first big round baler.
Growing up during the depression, Eileen passed on the core values of thriftiness and self-reliance to her family. Gardening was always part of that plan and a way of life to her. With the help of family, she even enjoyed looking after a small garden visible from her assisted-living apartment in Amana, waiting for that first ripe tomato or cucumber! She was always prepared to feed a crowd, keeping her fruit room, pantry shelves, and freezers full.
To say that Eileen was a hard worker is just the tip of the iceberg; she enjoyed square dancing, bowling, the outdoors, camping, fishing, and oh yes those huge family picnics! Nothing in this world was more important to her than her family, she was so proud of Jean, her children and as grandchildren and great-grandchildren came along, “Grandma” was her favorite title in this world; she loved them dearly, and will be missed by all.
She and Jean enjoyed 67 years of marriage. They were also blessed to live in a neighborhood and community that shared fun times and supported each other in times of need. They got together for cards, sledding, and picnics, as well as farming work projects such as haymaking and corn shelling.
Her family includes her children, JoAnne (Dan) Downes of Oxford, Janet Whaley of Stanwood, Richard (Debbie) Bryant of Oxford, Jim (Cathlene) Bryant of Parnell, Randy (Sandy) Bryant of Oxford, Janelle (David) Campbell of Oxford and Keith Bryant of Williamsburg; 20 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; sister, Evelyn Gegenheimer of Oxford; brother, Gene Shebetka of Walford; a brother-in-law, Ray Bryant and his wife, Bonnie, of Layton, Utah, and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Jean; son-in-law, Victor Whaley; great-grandson, Alex Myers; and her sister, Dorothy Hospodarsky.
Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service is caring for Eileen’s family and her services.
Memorial donations can be made to a fund that will be distributed by the family at a later date.
Online condolences may be sent for her family through the Web at www.gayandciha.com.
Published Dec. 6, 2012 in The Gazette