Tag Archives: deaths

November 8, 1989, and Epilogue

Ina died on November 8, 1989. I had just started my senior year at Towson State University in Towson, MD, but was well aware of the events leading up to that, so the death was sad but unsurprising. Here’s an account from her youngest son Tom:

My Mother died on November 8, 1989 at a private nursing home in Bowie, Maryland. She was 90 years old. As you remember, a stray dog knocked her down while she was on her daily one-mile walk earlier in the year and the fall broke her hip. That apparently set off a chain of reactions in her body that led to strokes and her death. I had visited her after work that afternoon and she had gone into a coma. I went home, not realizing she was so near death.

[Walter and Ina’s] eldest son, Walter White, took a BS from the University of Maryland, became an electrical engineer, married and had three children. The middle son, Lewis Dunbar, took his BS and MS from the University of Maryland and PhD from Duke University and became a biochemist/plant physiologist. He has one son. I took my BS in Zoology from the University of Maryland and MLA from Johns Hopkins. I became a high school science teacher and then a journalist. I am delighted by my two children.

March 22, 1961

Walter died on March 22, 1961. Here’s his obituary from the Washington Post. The archive also has copies of obituaries from several trade and research publications.

Here’s a more personal description of the events leading up to Walter’s death, from his youngest son (and my father), Tom:

My Dad died of respiratory cancer on March 22, 1961 at Anne Arundel General Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland. He was 66 years old. The years of cigar smoking were the cause.

Mother (Ina) and I were there. He had gone into a coma a day or so earlier and I came back from college. I remember that I had not taken time to change out of my Air Force ROTC uniform.

He had first shown signs of not being well about 1957, when they took me with them to Europe for a month. He was delivering a paper at a conference in Hamburg and meeting with Dr. Goodwin-Bailey in England, who was working in the same field as my Dad. They were old friends.

March 22, 1961

March 22, 1961

July 20, 1953

This letter and the next one from J.D. Stampley are written in a shaky hand with frequent misspellings, so they’re hard to read. I’m transcribing what I can make out, correcting spelling but not grammar. This appears to be the start of a rather unpleasant disagreement in the family.

Bemis Tenn.
July 20, 1953

Dear Walter

Many thanks to you & Ethel for 25.00 check. Ethel & Marshal were here yesterday a few minutes. She brought me a table cloth, said it was her Mama’s. I do appreciate it so much.

July 20, 1953

July 20, 1953

Now, about the will to me it don’t make sense you stated I wasn’t mentioned. Your mother said I was. She has also told Enola & Mary & Ida that I was mentioned in the will in 1946. She told me I would share alike as you & Revah & Ethel. Now if you affirm your statement is right by same token you confess your Mother’s statements were wrong, then that leaves your Deceased Mother under the curse of Lying. Bible says all liars will have their part in the lake of Fire. I can’t believe she lied, & about 3 months ago Senie wrote Ida & said she didn’t want me to suffer & if [illegible] thing for her to get it & send her the bill. In 1939 she got on me about church work & I told her I had no way of getting there. She remarked if she bought me a car she would change her papers & show the cost. I thought it too much trouble so we didn’t get the car. Senie has always proved she loved me, and I can’t somehow believe she has thrown me away like you said.

May I have your reply as to what you desire to do.

Thanking you for your reply.

Love to all
J.D. Stampley
P.O. Box 792 Bemis, Tenn.

February 17, 1942

Tuesday Night 2/17.

My dear Sweetheart & Boys,

Saturday noon I ate a dinner with Claudelle & BM down town, and then went home with them over Sunday. I went to the office from there Monday AM. Mr. Cushing came over Sun. night for chili but Deniza was too tired. She works at night at the War Dept. We had a quiet day and light visiting.

February 17, 1942

February 17, 1942

Monday & today Mr. Lata and I had some fumigations to keep us busy and there is enough for tomorrow too. It seems to be going OK but we cannot check results until the hatching takes place. I have been sending material to Bushland and he writes that the laboratory colonies are being established OK.

It looks as though the money on the first project will come through in a few days. A voucher was sent over and as I understand it, a check is to be returned to the Bureau. The other project is late, and it may be a month before it comes through. I think we have the personnel lined up and things are under way to transfer some assistants on short notice.

Mrs. W.V. King passed away on Sat. PM and is being buried at Shreveport, her home town. I have had no word of any kind from Dr. King.

I am enclosing a clipping that Claudelle gave me. I believe you knew Ardie Shaw at Charleston.

The valentines were appreciated very much and I want to thank all three of the boys and their mother.

With love

July 26, 1939

Wednesday Afternoon.
July 26, 1939.

Dearest Sweetheart:

The children were so happy to have the letters from you. They will answer them soon. Those compliments on their good behavior work like magic. Really, I’ve never known them to behave so well for so long before. I think a great deal of it is due to the fact that they both feel so well and they have plenty of room to play.

July 26, 1939

July 26, 1939

I believe you are behaving well too. I like the idea of your quitting work at 6 or 7 o’clock and walking home every evening. No doubt you notice a big difference in the way you feel.

I’m so tickled over the rug. Has the Olson Co. suggested what adjustment might be made? It would suit me to get another one exactly like the one in Reitha’s room – color and all; we know it’s all right. Perhaps we can wait until after we return to order it.

It is well that you are looking around for a place to live. Before we decide on one I wish we could know whether or not we shall be in Minneapolis for another year. It would be too bad to go to the expense of moving, and then have to leave town in a month or two, wouldn’t it? If we knew positively we were to be there only a month or two longer we could stand the dirty walls and even the neighbors for that short time. However, if we are going to remain in Minneapolis for a year, let us move by all means.

Mama is feeling very badly now. Her favorite sister, Aunt Ophelia Brumfield – the one you met in Jackson – is being buried there this afternoon. She must have passed away very suddenly, because Mama had a letter from her this morning which she wrote Sunday; she was feeling fine then. Mama and Papa enjoyed her so much when they visited her in Mississippi recently. It gave us a strange feeling to have the letter from her today after we had already received the telegram telling of her death. The shock of the message yesterday affected Mama so deeply that we were worried about her for a while – her arms and legs remained numb for a long time.

Perhaps you don’t like this high-handed way in which we are planning the trip to Mississippi, but I had to admit to Mother Dove that the children and I were hoping we could go after I learned that someone, perhaps you, had written her that we were going. I’m anxious to hear from you about it. I shall not answer the enclosed letter until I hear from you. If you want to go by Ethel’s after we go to Mother Dove’s it suits us fine.

We love you lots, Honey.

Always, your

May 23, 1932 (from Mrs. Geary)

I think Lucile Geary was Anna Laake’s sister.

Dallas, Texas
May 23, 1932

Dear Mrs. Dove,

Your letter came this A.M. and thanks for remembering me & I did not write before now because I knew that you would understand and did not expect it, however I did make several attempts to write to you while at the sanitarium. I wanted so much to thank you for the beautiful flowers, which she really did see during one of her few conscious moments, but it was impossible for me to do anything but just sit there and see her suffer, which was almost more than I could stand. That is the only thing that helps to give her up was the thought that she was through suffering.

May 23, 1932 (from Mrs. Geary)

May 23, 1932 (from Mrs. Geary)

Ernest was wonderful in every way; he spared nothing for her comfort & had everything in his power done for Anna, besides he never left her only when necessary. He stayed when I thought he would drop, you know he isn’t well. The same trouble seems to be giving him more pain & he lost 10 lbs.

Mrs. Dove, this letter seems to have no connection but I know you will over look it because I’m heartbroken & I know I will miss her more every day.

Ernest said that he had had several sweet letters from you & Mr. Dove & the flowers you sent for the funeral also some that were delivered afterward were all a consolation coming from you who loved her & share our grief & loss. Anna loved you dearly I have heard her say so many times. I wish that I could see the baby. Thanks again & love

Lucile Geary.

May 20, 1932 (from Mr. Laake)

Letterhead from the Bevans Hotel, Menard, Texas.

May 20, 1932

Dear Walter and Ina:

I haven’t had a chance to write you and thank you for all the wonderful things you did for Anna and for myself during the time of Anna’s illness and death. You must pardon me for not acknowledging your many favors, but you understand, of course, that I had many things to think about and to do during Anna’s illness and since her death, well, it is almost impossible to get a-going again.

May 20, 1932 (from Mr. Laake)

May 20, 1932 (from Mr. Laake)

Walter, I especially want to thank you for your very kind letter which you wrote from New Orleans. It was mighty kind of you to want me to go back to Charleston with you for a while, and for you to offer to come by at Dallas for me. I wish I could have gone with you and Mr. Hall, but it was impossible for me at the time. Furthermore, it was not my innermost desire to want to go so far away when it would be impossible to go out and visit Anna every evening. After visiting her, so it seems at least, it is somewhat less lonely at home, or rather in the place that was a home of happy memory.

Coming over here I came by the way of San Antonio and Uvalde. I stopped at Austin and visited Claudelle and at Uvalde I had a very pleasant visit with Mother Lewis. Claudelle’s return from Texas is now only a matter of a few more days and I am sure that Mother Lewis is going to be right happy when she will have Claudelle home again. She is also anxiously looking forward for the time when you, Walter and Ina and Walter White, will come home for your summer visit. I presume you will drive through when you come down and that you will want to come by Dallas on your trip down or on your return trip. You must do that and remember that I will be awaiting your visit at our home. I know that it will never be the same to any of us, but it will be a pleasure, for me, at least, to have you stop with me whenever you are in Dallas.

Again I wish to thank you for all you have done to lighten my sorrow.

With kindest regards,

I am,


May 10, 1932 (Letter)

Tuesday PM.

My dear Sweetheart,

I wired you that Mrs. Laake passed away at 4 AM today and that the funeral would take place tomorrow at 10 AM. The message came from the Cushings. I wired a floral spray from here – through the florist here. I am writing Mr. Laake asking him to return to Charleston with us. I imagine that Bishopp will write him about it too.

May 10, 1932 (Letter)

May 10, 1932 (Letter)

Mr. Hall is out with Dr. Hinman this evening. They went down below N.O. on a collecting trip.

The exhibits look fine and everything seems to be going OK. Dr. Shelmire came yesterday and I am to see him tonight. Tomorrow Dyer has a paper on typhus and both Kemp and Shelmire are to discuss it. Saw Dyer today, also Dr. Morsund (Dean of Baylor), Waters (artist of Baylor), Kemp, Dr. Hanson of Fla. State Board, Dr. Bassett, Health Officer of Savannah, and a lot of others whom I know. Mr. Hall seems to be enjoying it all.

The exhibits come down Friday noon. I told Mr. Laake we would come by Dallas if he cared to come but I think he would come to N.O.

I am enclosing a note rec’d from Revah.

I love you, Honey, & you too Buddy.


May 10, 1932 (Telegrams)

Apparently Mrs. Laake held on a bit longer than the doctor’s “matter of hours” forecast, but nonetheless succumbed.

May 10, 1932 (Telegrams)

May 10, 1932 (Telegrams)



April 27, 1919

This postwar letter from one of Walter’s Army buddies reveals that he had bent the truth a bit when telling his parents how safe his aviation assignment had been. In addition to handling supplies for the squadron, he had also flown as a bombardier and reconnaissance photographer in the squadron’s Sopwith A2 aircraft, another detail he omitted from his letters home.

Flight “C” 800th Aero Squadron,
Le Valdahon, Sunday 27th April 1919

Dear Dove:

I am sorry to have to tell you about the misfortune that has befallen our little family here at this camp. But yesterday morning about 9:05 Pilot 2nd Lt. Oakley McKinney, Brooklyn, N.Y. and Sergeant Greeley Robbins fell in a Sopwith No. 11, from about 300 feet altitude, in a vrille, and crashed into the hill north of the barracks, where the sock is. Both were killed instantly. When the plane hit the gasoline tank exploded and went up in flames. We were all over to the plane about the same time, trucks, motorcycles, ambulance, and the mechanics on foot with fire extinguishers, but we were all too late. You can imagine the awfulness of the sight. Lt. Lawson and Sgt. Hoyt Hull were up about 1000 feet waiting for Lt. Cliff and Corp. Tullius, who were about 500 feet and also for Lt. McKinney and Sgt. Greeley Robbins to gain the same altitude so that they could ferry the planes to Colombey les Belles. Both the other pilots came down, Lt. Cliff was pretty badly broken up about the accident.

April 27, 1919

April 27, 1919

This is Sunday and today at 2:00 P.M. the funeral was held and I believe it was the largest ever held at the post. It started to snow about 1:00 o’clock but cleared up before 2:00 and the sun was out bright. There were two caissons drawn by six dapple white horses, a doughboy military escort or firing squad, all the officers of this post acted as pall bearers for Sgt. Robbins. The post band, the 140 F.A., headed the procession. A number of French Civilians, the Madam femme de chambre and Madam Peutlots, etc. The Motor Transports fellows were there and the Nurses as well as the Commanding Officer of the Post and the Camp Hospital; Colonels and Majors. Just after the services a Liberty Plane landed here at the field, they were just joy riding around, had landed up in Germany today. Just now another Liberty landed with a pilot to ferry the other Sopwiths to Colombey les Belles.

Did I tell you that Lt. McKinney was up giving me D.C. work about three weeks ago and the engine died on us and we had a forced landing on the Artillery range, making sufficient kindling wood for a good bon fire. Have been back from the Hospital at Dijon and they discharge me for duty saying that my eyes would get all right, my jaw was not broken, so they said, and would be always dislocated. But really I am feeling fine and the only thing that would make me feel better is to have one of them there honorable discharges from the U.S. Army, that would be perfect. Are there very many of the discharged soldiers that want to come back to France? I heard there was through a “Y” entertainer that just arrived. The states must be the h of a place if such is the case. However you know how much faith I place in the source of the information.

We are all expecting to get out of here the 15th of May 1919, but have no orders for the personnel as yet, except Capt. Brower and Lt. Payne two of the latest arrivals and the only two who requested continued service in the AEF have orders to proceed to Colombey les Belles for station and duty. So it looks pretty good for the rest of us. We have orders to get all material out of here and Tuesday the Motor Transport Co. is going to send three big trucks to 1st Air Depot with as much of our supplies as they can haul and continue to haul. The Q.M. have orders to be out of here the 15th of May, so we will have to get out.

Gee and Jones are on leave in England now. Hawkins, Banker and Gahan are in C.H. #12, with minor complaints. Otherwise all the fellows are O.K. They all enjoyed your last letter. With best of regards, I am,

Yours truly,
Louis D. Leland
Enl. Man