Monday, August 28, 2006

Death of an historian...

Saturday was Miss Doris Gardener's funeral, and of all of the funerals I've ever attended, it was far and away the funniest. Please believe that I'm not being disrespectful.

First, some background on Miss Doris, an almost mythic figure, both literally and figuratively: At least six feet tall, she lived a relatively small life in a small town in a remarkably large way. She made a physical impression because of her size and personality, and at 94 was still a striking and vital figure.

This is a picture I took in April at the Providence Cemetery Service. Does she look 94?

A nurse, election commissioner for Bienville Parish for 70 years, and member of the Providence Cemetery Board for 75 years, her knowledge of the small town of Ringgold and its inhabitants was exceptional. Everyone knew Doris, and she knew everyone and their kin. A repository of local history, her loss is a loss of compiled knowledge and information, but she will continue to loom large in her own right as people recall the "unofficial Mayor of Ringgold."

Appropriately, the funeral consisted largely of stories told about her by relatives and friends, and almost all of them were laugh-aloud funny... She was dearly loved (with good reason), and the funeral reflected much about the kind of person she was --an individual who approached life head-on, with humor and a strong sense of community and family. I think she influenced everyone she met, but her strong family ties are most outstanding.


  1. What a fitting tribute to a lovely lady. I'm sure Miss Doris was laughing right along with you and appreciated the loving laughter at her funeral.

  2. She is a stunning woman and looks jazzy in that beautiful suit!

  3. Women like this are my role models. I hope everyone tells funny stories and has a good laugh at my departing.

  4. Wow, she doesn't look anything close to 94 in that photo! I'd have guessed 20 years younger.

    I love the idea of people telling funny stories at funerals. I think it's much more respectful of a person's memory to remember the very best things about them than to spend the whole time crying about them being gone. For me the grieving part is a private thing.

  5. My mom didn't want any crying at her funeral and we had strict instructions on what to wear: "NO black!" I love the things we gain from knowing the "characters" in this life...And I love that pink suit!!

  6. Gerrie, she has become my role model,too. Live long and live well!

    Deb, I only hope the years will be as kind physically and mentally to me.

    Debby, I like the idea of eliminating black and choosing more celebratory colors. And I certainly agree that we gain so much from the characters. They add the spice, don't they?

  7. The no black instructions came from my mom =-) She was something...and definitely added the spice =-)


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