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Elda Norman Callaway was born May 2, 1906, the eldest child of Dr. Robert M. and Lissie (Hartley) Norman. Her birthplace was the house which is now the Ozark Hotel.
At the age of two, her parents bought a home just north of the Clinkingbeard Funeral Home. The house burned in 1973, but for over 60 years it was the Norman’s home and later that of their grandson, Bob Crain. Elda’s present home was built in 1941 on the Norman’s “Garden Site” for Elda, her husband, Ben Callaway, and children, Mac and Cynthia.
Elda and her only sister, Reba, spent many happy times with family and friends in the Norman home during their Ava school years and college years. Elda graduated valedictorian from Ava High School and attended Drury College, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. She met Ben Callaway, of Enid, Oklahoma, while they were students at Drury. Elda taught first grade at Ava one year, finished her degree at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and then taught English at Ava High School in 1928-29.
On May 20, 1929, she and Ben were married and until 1937 they lived in Independence, Kans., Covington, Okla., and Chanute, Kans., while Ben worked for Long Bell Lumber Company as assistant manager and manager. In 1937, they moved to Ava to be near her parents after her sister Reba’s death. Ben became the owner of Callaway Oil Company. In 1944, Mrs. Norman died and Elda and Ben’s family expanded to include her father, Dr. Norman, and Reba’s son, Bob Crain.
Elda spent the 1940′s and 1950′s being wife, mother, and “helper” in her father’s medical practice after he lost his vision. She did all the ordinary household work and also canned produce from her father’s farm, sewed (this was to become one of her favorite pastimes, and she was an excellent seamstress) and found time to be active in various clubs – Fortnightly, Chapter IH P.E.O. of which she was a charter member, Art Club and bridge groups, along with supporting the many civic groups in which Ben was active.
All this while including the usual school activities of Bob, Mac and Cynthia. The Callaway household expanded during the years to include Ben’s mother for extended visits and his aunt, Lena Brown, who lived with Elda and Ben before she entered the nursing home in Ava. Elda was a very busy lady.
In the years since the family left home, Elda found a new hobby, working in the yard with her flowers. After Ben’s death in 1983, and the loss of her central vision, she enjoyed her flowers and time spent with her family, which now includes grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Elda became very interested in the success of the Douglas County Historical Museum and was a great supporter of it. The May 1993 issue of their Journal was dedicated to her.
The past few years she has remained in her home with the help of many wonderful caregivers. Their devotion and care has been highly appreciated by the family. Elda was a member of the Ava United Methodist Church.
Elda was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. R. M. and Lissie Norman; sister, Reba Crain; husband, Ben Callaway; and son, Mac Callaway.
She is survived by her daughter-in-law, JoEtta (Whitacre) Callaway, of Springfield, Mo.; her daughter and son-in-law, Cynthia and Art Farnham, of Wichita, Kans.; their son, David Farnham (Debbie) and son, Gabe, of Wichita, Kans., and their son, John Farnham, of San Francisco, Calif.; her nephew and his wife, Bob and Deloris Crain, of Ava, and their daughter, Leigh Heriford (Randy) and Adam, Cody and Olivia Heriford.
Services were held Wednesday, July 27, at 10 a.m. in the Clinkingbeard Funeral Home, Ava, with the Revs. Oren Alcorn and Greg Dowler officiating. Interment was in the Ava Cemetery. A visitation was held in the family home on Tuesday evening. Family requests memorials to be made to the Douglas County Historical Museum or Ava United Methodist Church.