Doris Sinden, Age 97

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Doris Belle Jones Sinden was born on July 7, 1919 to parents Andrew and Lizzy Jones, on a farmstead north of Athol, Kansas, known as the Highland Community. She passed away on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 at the age of 97 years of age. Doris was orphaned by the age of six. Her mother was stricken with scarlet fever and passed away when Doris was two. Doris also contracted the disease, but somehow survived. Four years following the death of her mother, Doris's father, Andrew, became ill and passed away from a suspected ruptured appendix. Although Doris had no memories of her mother, she did recall happy times spent with her father when he served as the Highland Church superintendent. She loved attending Sunday picnic dinners in their grove with other church members. Food abounded at these gatherings with fried chicken, homemade breads, potato salad and of course, the favorite, homemade ice cream. Following her father's death, Doris, along with her sister, Merna, went to live with their Grandfather Jones. Joining them on the farm during the summer months was a favorite bachelor uncle. Times were hard, with money and resources being scarce when Doris was growing up. She always said she did not realize they were poor, as all the neighbors lived in similar circumstances. Life went forward for Doris, and Martha Jennings, who became a loving mother figure to her, came to join the household. Martha remained in the home, helping raise Doris and Merna for nearly ten years. Doris stated many times how Martha would bake fresh bread, walk the two miles to the Highland School, and arrive just in time for lunch. Doris described herself as a tom boy while growing up. She loved to be outdoors, spending time making good use of her imagination as she played. Since Doris loved being outside, she was most unhappy on summer Sunday afternoons when her Grandpa Jones would not allow the girls to go outside as there were neighborhood boys "skinny dipping" in the nearby pond.  Chores for Doris during her childhood included milking the cows. While she did not mind too much, the exception was during the winter when the cow's tails would have frozen manure on them. One or two swishes of their tails smacking her in her face were more than enough! Doris also had to gather eggs. Once while gathering eggs, she disturbed some bees and instead of setting the eggs down, she tried to run while swatting the bees and hang onto the egg basket at the same time. Needless to say, she ended up with "egg on her face" as well as in her hair! Other chores for Doris included trimming her grandfather's mustache. She would earn the large sum of a dime for doing this. Doris loved going into town on Saturday nights to do the "trading" as it was called, where groceries, would be bought, and eggs and cream would be sold. Doris loved spending that dime on candy at the general store! Sometimes, dear cousins, Opal Louise, Mary Lou, and Delmar, would join Doris on her outdoor adventures. Doris always told her cousin Opal the reason she had such beautiful white hair was due to the fact one time she emptied a bucket of kerosene and dead potato bugs on top of her head from the barn loft! Doris enjoyed animals and pets her whole life. She had two ponies while growing up. One pony died from eating fresh alfalfa. Her other pony was named Dolly. Dolly was a Shetland pony; one Doris tried to ride to her country school. This did not work out well, however, because soon after the pair started the journey to school, Dolly would come to a nearby bridge, refuse to go across, and turn around and take Doris back home.
Doris loved attending school in the one-room schoolhouse with all ages of students. Her favorite school days were when they had geography "bees". She loved those days as the younger students got to move to the front of the class to sit in the older boys' and girls' desks. Ciphering (math) races were fun too, as were the three-legged races and baseball games at recess. Of course, following recess, all students drank out of the same metal dipper, never giving a thought to spreading germs.
Like most people of her age, Doris lived through the terrible years of the dust storms which were nearly unbearable. She and her family would put wet sheets up around doors and windows in an attempt to keep the dust out of the house. The sun was blocked by the dust storms and their chickens would go to roost in mid day, thinking it was night. Neighbors got lost trying to find their way home following fence lines. Both Doris and her sister came down with "dust pneumonia" Doris was eleven or twelve years old at the time. Being too ill to be moved to a hospital fifteen miles away, a nurse was sent to the home to help Doris recover, which remarkably, she did. When Martha Jennings moved to Harlan during Doris's sophomore year of high school, Doris went with her and worked for several families in the community. She lived for five years with the Caldwell family, and their daughter, Gyra, became like another sister to her.
Doris attended Harlan High School; graduating as a Harlan Cardinal with the class of 1939. While in high school, she met her future husband, Eddie Sinden. Doris and Eddie were married in Harlan on December 21st, 1941, in the little house that still sits off the south side of the highway by Harlan. Doris and Eddie moved to Smith Center, and Eddie went to serve his country eleven months later. While Eddie served in the Air Corps, Doris enjoyed living in their basement apartment. Due to a shortage of males in the town, Doris found employment with the post office. At night, Doris made sure the fire was "banked" in the stove at the post office, so it would be warm when workers arrived at 6:00 a.m. each morning. Doris arrived at the post office early, as it was her job to meet the man with the mail bags which had arrived via train early in the morning. Many, many times, Doris relayed to her family that her favorite part of the job during those years occurred on Sundays. Doris walked to the post office to see what letters from soldiers had come in, and would personally deliver the letters to the servicemen's' families. Also during those days of working in the post office, live chicks would be sent through the mail, being delivered in the spring. Doris, a lover of all animals, felt it her duty to go to the post office over the weekend to feed the chicks bread crumbs and provide them with water. This would only be expected of a woman who wrote obituaries for pet turtles, and sent out baby announcements when Tilley, her cat, had kittens! On Christmas Eve of 1949, a daughter, Susan Kay, was welcomed to the family by Doris and Eddie. Doris was trying very hard that day to finish her ironing before the "blessed event", but just could not do it! Doris gave birth to Susie in what is now Ingleboro's, with the Dr. singing "Mule Train" and an airplane arriving in town with Santa Claus aboard. Doris and Eddie provided a loving and happy home environment in which Susan thrived and enjoyed a wonderful childhood. The Sinden's house was the "go to" place for teens to gather for food and fun. When Susie married, Doris gained a son with her "Jimmie". The first time Susie brought Jim home to the house from California, Doris came down from the upstairs, exclaiming, "There's my Jimmie!", and the name stuck. Jim always said no one could ask for a better mother-in-law. Doris was always the caregiver and concerned about other's welfare. She cared for her grandfather, uncles, aunts, and in laws among others. She was an excellent neighbor and friend, and kept the post office in business by sending greeting cards on a regular basis. Eddie and Susie always laughed that when Doris heard of someone's loved one's passing; she would make and deliver her famous coffee cake. While the grieving family would receive a large 9 X 13 coffee cake, Eddie and Susie hoped get a small loaf to share between them. Fridays found Doris going to the beauty shop for her weekly hair appointment. She began taking gum to her hairdresser, but later on, felt she needed to offer some to the clients the next station over, and then the next, and finally, everyone in the beauty shop was given a piece of gum by Doris if they wanted one. She usually took two full packages of gum with her each Friday to make sure she had enough to go around!
Busy years passed for Doris, and along with her work, she enjoyed her membership in the American Legion Auxiliary, teaching Sunday School to the "nursery" class, serving as a Brownie Scout Leader, and taking part in church activities such as the United Methodist Women's church circle. She worked at the Hardly Used Shop. When she could no longer work shifts at the Shop, she assisted with its ministry at age ninety six by sorting and marking greeting cards to be sold. She enjoyed attending firemen's events with Eddie, and was delighted in her later years that she was still invited to attend firemen's family suppers.
Doris loved flower gardening, no matter what home she lived in over the years, and even had a yard full of beautiful blooms surrounding her lake home. Needless to say, she was delighted with grand-daughter, Anna, became a talented floral designer.
Doris retired from her job as a postal clerk in 1977, just in time to become a grandmother for the first time. She welcomed Anna Nicole into the family in 1977, and then Steven Andrew in 1981. She and Eddie loved spoiling their grand children. They were the best babysitters around to be sure, and whether it was helping Grandma and Grandpa shuck corn for the freezer, having sleepovers, or going to the lake with them there were always special times. Anna and Steven were so fortunate to have years of memories with them growing up. As much as Doris loved her two grandchildren, she absolutely delighted in the seven great-grandchildren who came into her life over the past few years. Nothing would make her happier than putting a little one on her knee and singing her special "Pony Boy" song to them. She loved having a "pew full" of family in church, holiday gatherings and birthday parties with all little ones under one roof playing together. "GG" was a very special lady to each and every one of them.
A true delight for Doris was any time she could go fishing. She and Eddie enjoyed several years of fun, fellowship and fishing at Kirwin Lake where they had a trailer home. When the trailer park closed at Kirwin Lake, they purchased and moved another mobile home to a trailer park by Harlan County Lake. Doris and Eddie loved every minute of the twenty-one years spent with friends and family at the trailer. Eddie was the "go-to" guy for any tool needed in the trailer court, while Doris was known far and wide for her lemon cake which was always available when company dropped in. Doris was delighted her grandson, Steven, and great-grandson, Lathan, inherited her love for fishing. Doris loved to travel with Eddie, and never met a stranger. She loved attending Legion conventions all over the state, visiting dear cousins and friends in Colorado, Iowa, and Nebraska, taking trips to Branson, and flying with friends to Las Vegas and Hawaii. Horse and dog race outings were among the best of trips! Saturday nights meant trips to Franklin with friends to eat supper, or going to the VFW to hear the Barons play. Doris lost her life partner when Eddie passed in 1999. They had enjoyed fifty-eight plus years together, and his death was sudden and unexpected. How happy she was that they had been fishing one last time the night before Eddie's passing. As Doris had done so many times before, she carried on with strength and dignity and remained in her home for many more years to come. Doris was so very, very generous. There are probably very few people sitting here today who have not benefitted in some way from her generosity. As previously stated, she was thoughtful and enjoyed sending cards and letters out to friends and relatives for all special occasions. She sent out yearly Christmas letters until the age of 96. Of course, she never put cards or letters to be mailed out on her mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up, as that would just be added work for them! Never one to like the spotlight on herself, Doris was not sure what to think when she and Eddie were chosen as King and Queen of Old Settler's Day in 1998. She finally decided to relax and enjoy the day and the festivities. She loved it that so many dear friends and relatives came to share in this special day. Even though it was 105 that September day, the family enjoyed the parade, barbeque, and even dancing in the bank parking lot.
In recent years, Doris enjoyed keeping abreast of the events involving the restoration of the Home on the Range cabin. Doris and Eddie were long time friends of the Rusts, often stopping in to see Pete and Ellen on their way home from the lake where Ellen always had German chocolate cake ready to be served, and Pete had the whiskey! Doris recalled the changes to the cabin over the years; remembering when it served as a chicken coop. The Home on the Range Foundation was near and dear to her heart. She was the first contributor to the restoration fund, having caught El Dean Holthus one day in the beauty shop to give him a check. She was raised near the cabin, and it was always said her grandfather would, on occasion, take Dr. Higley home in his horse and buggy, and he was able to hear Dr. Higley playing his fiddle on a still night. What a thrill it was for Doris to be a part of the audience for the premiere of the "Home on the Range" documentary film and be recognized from the stage. She enjoyed being interviewed by Ken Spurgeon and his filming crew twice over the past several years, and she enjoyed meeting Buck Taylor, who starred in the documentary. Doris enjoyed school events and supported the Redmen by attending basketball and football games as long as she was able. She liked watching grandson, Steven, "take in the secrets" for a football play during his high school years, but did not like it that they "hit each other so hard!"Even at age 97, Doris could be found cheering on the boys from the comfort of Susie and Jim's pickup parked in the west end zone. She also enjoyed watching KSU Wildcat sporting events, and eagerly awaited news each week of how great-grandson Lathan's, sporting events had turned out. She was pleased to attend great grand's soccer games as well. It was amazing how many times Doris had a medical set-back, but always seemed to recover and remain in her home with faithful and attentive companion, Pugsly. Until recent months, Doris was in her own home, driving her car to the beauty shop on Friday, followed by trips to the grocery store. She was fiercely independent, a trait that caused butting of heads more than once with "her kids". When Doris could no longer live in her own home, she enjoyed several months at Independent Living where she received wonderful personal care and formed another "little family" with the residents and helpers. Her last few weeks were spent in Long Term Care where the staff offered their best care for her, along with the assistance of Hospice personnel. Above everything else, Doris loved her family beyond measure and felt so blessed to have contact with them often. When the family gathered, great-grands, Averie, Emma Belle, Teagan, Lathan, Grace, Ava, and Langston, ran in the house always looking for their "GG" first. Doris has been the "glue" that has held the Sinden, Buckley and Jackson families together over the years. She was an inspiration to her family as well others whose lives were touched by her presence. She lived a wonderful and full life, never realizing the impact she had on others lives. She will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her. Go rest high on your mountain, Doris!

Upcoming Events

Saturday the 22nd of April at 10:30 AM
United Methodist Church
301 E Kansas
Smith Center, Kansas 66967

Memorial Contribution
116 W First
Smith Center, KS 66967
To be given to many local organizations or groups



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