The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Meet Your Neighbor

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill publisher/owner

Meet Gladys Lucille (Shinn) Eppley, 89, who was born in Burnside by Dr. Hanson on July 2, 1921.

Gladys grew up wishing she had brothers and sisters, but she said she always felt spoiled even during the many hard times she experienced.

"I tell my grandchildren that it is the hard times that make you appreciate the good times."

Gladys said she was 3 years old when her mother died of a ruptured appendix.

Her father was a well-known pitcher in that era and he would travel around the counties pitching with his brother Tressler as catcher. Both were from Burnside. Later her dad was hired by the Chicago Cubs farm team as their pitcher, "The Cuba Cubs" and then he was called up to the Majors in Chicago but injured his arm.

"That is when he purchased a little 120 acre farm. I was in 6th grade. His arm was in a cast for a long time until the doctor told him his days of pitching was over. He never recovered from that."

He was road commissioner of Durham, he farmed, and two years later when Gladys was in 8th grade, he died in the Dynamite shed on the LaMoine River one evening when he was filling in to watch the shed. It was a terrible explosion. People came from miles around.

"It was hard to lose your dad, but I was very fortunate that dad had remarried Bertha Blender when I was 5, and I had a good "Mom" and "Uncle Paul" Blender who tried to fill in as a dad. I owe my good upbringing to them," she said.

We lived on a small farm dad had purchased where Larry Johnsons lives today SW of LH.

I had an infant sister who died at birth in 1931.

Gladys said they moved to her uncle's in the old Blender homestead in Durham Township from 8th on. She graduated from Colusa High School in 1939 and worked for the school Principal for a year in his office.

She took correspondent courses in nursing and in general business and wanted to be a teacher or a nurse until her boyfriend talked her out of it.

His name was George, a farmer, and he and Gladys had attended the Durham Church together and dated off and on until he proposed Christmas of 1940. They married March 2nd 1941 at the Blender Home.

He purchased their first home East of La Harpe on a farmstead of 160 acres. Three children were born there: Dennis (Sylvia), Suzanne (David) Miller, Dianne (Greg) Blythe.

In 1950 they moved near the Blender farm on Rte. 94 a mile west of Durham.

Their children attended country schools of Tilton, Alma Mater, and Durham School, and all graduated from Dallas City High School.

"We lost our oldest son Dennis in 1987 from a rare bone cancer (Ewings Sarcoma). He was only 40".

Dennis and his wife and two children lived in St. Louis and he worked for Casey's Sporting Good.

Gladys had always loved sports and Dennis was no exception. He coached and recruited for the colleges, and had good rapport with the Cardinals, managers and players.

Their son Christopher was 5 when Dennis died and he had played ball with some of the children of the Cardinal players... like Willey Magee

Gladys could relate with Christopher as she had lost both parents.

"I lived at the ball park with dad. While he played at the Durham ballpark, I would beg popcorn and peanuts off folks and they would give me something and hurry me off so they could watch the game.

I remember dad packing his clothes in the old metal trunk (which she still has), as he would travel to games and he packed my little suitcase to go to different relatives."

After Gladys married George Eppley, she said they enjoyed some good times and some hard times through the depression and such. He farmed and then they sold it and moved to Carthage where he worked for the Telephone Company as a Maintenance Man. Gladys kept busy at home and sometimes helped him and she would work in the Treasure's office during the busy tax time. George also worked at the Nauvoo Cheese factory in the boiler room.

Gladys baby sat, her greatest joy - besides mothering her own kids.

She said she has taken babies in from La Harpe and has seen them go through college.

"I always said, that they kept us young."

She cared for several in Carthage and then several in La Harpe. When George retired in 1986, they moved to the oldest home in La Harpe on West Main Street. The front two rooms and the up stairs are the original log cabin home, only covered in modern siding.

"Bertha Blender" had purchased it from Leah Nelson, but it was first owned by settler, David Gochenour, who built the house in 1840 and was one of La Harpe's early promoters.

A big thing about Gladys' is that her dad influenced her love for sports which she's kept and passed down through her family.

She was too young to be influenced by her father's team "The Cubs" and says she is definitely a Cardinal fan when they are playing.

"What I remember the most was the fun of the games. How good they were - they were really great!"

Her daughter, Suzanne Miller, put together a little history of the old games for her grandkids.

They played on the former fairgrounds where the ballpark-clubhouse is now where they had horse racing, too.

The fairgrounds drew lots of people and it was a big thing for La Harpe.

Today you will find Gladys watching baseball including the World Series and all basketball games, no special team. She enjoys keeping up with the Illini West playoffs and listens to them on the radio. "We are doing very well."

"I am a University of Ill fan," she said. My granddaughter Missy (Blythe) Rhode lives near Bloomington and her husband graduated from U of I

Her son in law Greg Blythe farms and is in the seed business and her daughter Dianne helps him and takes care of their home.

Greg and Dianne have two children, -Missy - in Corp Farm Bureau Office Bloomington; her husband works in the Ag field and they have three boys: Garrett and Preston in grade school & a toddler, Travis.

And Lance Blythe (Amanda) lives in La Harpe and farms and in the seed corn business. They have two children Hailey and Trenton.

Their late son (Dennis) and wife Sylvia have Christopher - 28, and Aaron 26.

Gladys daughter Suzanne has Kim (John) Barr who lives on the Barr farm near Fountain Green.

Kim runs the "New To You" resale shop in Carthage. Consignment.

Always told my kids when you experience the bad times its going to get better and it makes you appreciate the good times more.... you learn to appreciate more.

You wonder if you can cope.

"I am so thankful the Lord has given me the go that I can work. I have been blessed with fairly good health, Hard work and lots of laughing good friends and neighbors, good family connections, people I have babysitted for come back to visit..... it all keeps you young."

Gladys is the oldest living member of the Durham Methodist Church - which she joined in 8th grade after her dad died.

She enjoys being outside and mows her own yard with a push mower. "Some have felt sorry for me but it keeps me young and healthy and I love to care for my yard. I have lived there 24 years."

Gladys also loves to visit the nursing home and used to love refinishing furniture. She helps her family wherever she can and says she enjoys to sewing quilts and sews a lot.

"There are too many things I like to do."

Her recent lens implants makes it so she doesn't need glasses any more, thanks to Dr. Yadolah Karnama in Burlington, IA.

They only thing left to do now is what she really likes doing best, and that's spoiling the great grandkids.

"I love em and treat em like my own. I just love kids. As an only child, I always felt cheated," she said.

Gladys lost her beloved husband George in January 2006 of congestive heart failure - and cancer.