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Almartha/ Souder

Our thoughts and prayers are with Katy and Chelsea MacMillan in the loss of their mother, Liz. I remember how thrilled Liz was when she opened the Souder Store. She said she had always wanted a little country store and was so happy when her dream came true. Liz fought a valiant battle against cancer and is an inspiration to all of us who are preparing for this weekend’s Relay for Life.

The Souder Church of Christ Relay team hosted a very successful fish fry at the Wasola Fire House Saturday night. There was a large crowd, plenty of good food, lots of visiting, and quite a bit of campaigning going on.

Among those enjoying the fish fry were Rich and Betty Lou Rennaker Montgomery of Columbia who spent last week at their Almartha home. Joining them were their daughter and son-in-law, Lisa and Mike Snyder, and children Audrey, Bradley and Eliana, also from Columbia. They pursued a variety of outdoor activities, including floating on the Norfork, playing in the creek, finding treasures on the farm (like rusty horseshoes and old saw blades) and visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield. One evening the group joined neighbors Ralph and Kay Thomas Johnson for a wiener roast over the fire pit Ralph built in their back yard. Betty Lou and Kay were childhood friends and have found it so rewarding to renew their friendship now that both couples are retired.

Kay said she crossed an item off of her bucket list a couple of weeks ago when she and Ralph attended a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. It was Kay’s first professional baseball experience, and she had a great time! Watching the big-league Cardinals was okay (they lost) but the real  highlight of the evening for the Johnsons was watching their grandson, Skylar, play afterward when his team, the Salem High School Tigers played South Calloway on the Busch Stadium field. Ralph and Kay traveled to Salem and rode a charter bus to the game, along with lots of other Salem fans, so they didn’t have to fight the city traffic and search for a place to park. Sounds like a great way to take in a game!

It was such a joy to visit with Leroy and Ovia Marie McGinnis on Saturday at the Historium, as the McGinnises visited Gainesville from their home in Cuba, Mo. Ovia Marie is a gifted storyteller, and she delighted Susan Ault and me with tales of growing up in Gainesville in the late 30’s and 40’s. One year Ovia Marie and her good friend, Patsy Parker, who had been students at Gainesville Grade School, decided — just decided — that they wanted to go to a one-room school for a term. It sounded like an adventure, and the girls were always up for an adventure! The closest one-room school to town was Pine View, and Dorothy Baxter was the teacher. So the two girls — Ovia Marie in third grade and Patsy in fourth — would ride with Miss Dorothy out to the school north of town. They had such a good time that year and loved Miss Dorothy who indulged some of their unusual whims. Next time you see Ovia Marie, ask her what it was that Miss Dorothy allowed them to do — something that would be unheard of today.

Leroy and Ovia Marie came to Gainesville specifically to make a generous donation to the Ozark County Historium, of which they are loyal supporters. The Historium is conducting a fundraising drive to pay off the remaining mortgage on their building AND to build a much-needed endowment fund for continuing support of the building and its activities. Even though the McGinnises haven’t lived in Ozark County for decades, they keep up with their hometown and its doings through the Ozark County Times and continue to be vitally interested in what goes on here. They’ve never forgotten their roots and the community that gave them such a good start in their very successful lives.

Part of the McGinnises’ success is their family: they are the parents of six children, 18 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. And they work hard to keep their large family closely knit. The entire clan routinely gathers for dinner once every three months, and they always spend some vacation time together in the summer. Ovia Marie says she has always insisted they “get along” — she won’t tolerate any fussing — and her efforts are honored; the big bunch all enjoy each other very much.

Our daughter, Sarah Knopik, her friend Ann Hyvrard and our granddaughters, Emma and Lucinda, all of Kansas City, spent a few days on the farm last week. The girls all had fun boating and swimming at Bull Shoals Lake with Derek and Susannah Alms, Wyatt and Addie. For Ann, who is originally from France, this was a new experience; she was surprised at how clean and natural our pretty lake is.

Rex’s Riters, our Relay team at First Christian Church, sponsored a taco dinner on Sunday after the morning service, and it was a great success. As we close in on the annual event this weekend at the stadium at GHS, teams across the county are planning for the big finale. If you haven’t attended Relay before, make this your first time. It is such a fun night and for such a good cause.

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