Audrey Fay Morford

(9 June 1895 - 13 November 2000)
Audrey Fay Morford|b. 9 Jun 1895\nd. 13 Nov 2000|p17.htm|Francis Arlando Morford|b. 4 Oct 1867\nd. 3 Apr 1903|p48.htm|Etta Belle Lyon|b. 23 Nov 1872\nd. 28 Aug 1955|p49.htm|Francis M. Morford|b. 14 May 1847\nd. 1 Jul 1932|p50.htm|Cordelia Day|b. 11 Sep 1835\nd. 12 Sep 1912|p51.htm|Charles W. Lyon|b. 1 Jan 1845\nd. 26 Jul 1903|p52.htm|Serena M. Viles|b. 1851\nd. 1895|p782.htm|
Appears on the following charts:
Descendants of Cyrus Day
Descendants of William Lyon
Descendants of Joseph Viles
Descendants of John Morford
Morford Ancestry
Descendents of Joseph Norton
     Audrey's remarkable life spanned 105 years, during which she witnessed the invention and popular adoption of air travel, modern industrialization, and the internet. It is difficult to encapsulate in a single sentence the amazing changes that Audrey -- or any centenarian -- bore witness to in the 20th century. At 7, she stood in the yard and watched, appalled, as Gordon, Nebraska's first indoor toilet was installed in the banker's house.1 Almost a century later, she worked fourty hours a week on now-ubiquitous personal computers, proofreading a local newspaper. For those of us who knew her, it is nearly impossible to maintain any sense of objectivity about her many admirable character traits; and this great-granddaughter, who spent as many childhood weekends at Audrey's home as she did in her own, will not even attempt to cloak her adulation of "Grandma-Great." The reader will hopefully indulge this overweaning affection, given the inherent interest of the subject.
     Audrey Fay Morford was born on 9 Jun 1895 in Newman Grove, Madison County, Nebraska, to Francis Arlando Morford and Etta Belle Lyon.2,3 Audrey's early years were spent moving from pillar to post as her father searched for a way to support his young family. Her first brother Rex was born in Texas in 1899, where Francis had worked picking cotton; and the next, Darrell, was born the following year on a ranch in Iowa. In addition to her brothers, Audrey enjoyed an unusual playmate in her aunt Myrtle, just eleven months older, who came to live with Etta after their mother died in 1895. Rootless though they were, Audrey's parents provided a loving home for their brood. She fondly recalled the deep love she witnessed between her parents, her father's gentle discipline, and her mother's unfailing ability to "make things comfortable" no matter where they landed.
     Audrey Fay Morford was only seven when Francis Arlando Morford died of pneumonia on 3 Apr 1903.4 Her mother went to get the doctor at one point and left Audrey watching him, to make sure he would stay in bed. "Of course, I was just a child, and he was a grown man. What could I do?" she remarked. She vividly recalled her father pulling on his boots and marching out into the frigid air to do chores in the stable while Etta was gone. He died the next night. The loss made a profound imprint on Audrey, who would still mist up when speaking of it 90 years later.
     Life went on for the Morfords in spite of their loss. An Indian woman came to live with the family for a time, until Etta moved in with her sister Elsie and brother-in-law Matt. Audrey's last brother, Kenneth Arlando, arrived in July.5 They remained a tight-knit family, and Etta continued working to support her sister and children. A group photo probably taken circa 1905shows Audrey Fay Morford with her mother Etta Belle, aunt Myrtle, and possibly another aunt Elsie Matilda Lyon. She and Myrtle Leotta Lyon were homeschooled by Etta for several years. At some point, Etta sent them to Lamoni, Iowa "to stay with Grandpa and Grandma" (Francis and Cordelia Morford) because there were no schools near the Malvern ranch. According to Audrey, Etta sold the ranch and bought a place in Lamoni the same year, which would place the move right around 1908 or 1909, give or take a year.6 The move to Lamoni would be a fateful one, for it was there that Audrey first laid eyes on John Perry DeForest Stubbart, "the handsomest thing I had ever seen." Two grades and five years apart, they socialized very little that year, except for the hayride that everyone went on; he brought her a can of Nabisco's that she kept all her life. "He just always kind of picked me out," she said. "And I let him; I acted like a fool, but that's the way I felt."
     John finished eighth grade and "went away to ninth," and Audrey finished her seventh and eighth grades of school in Lamoni. While she didn't mention it, they must have seen enough of each other in those two years to maintain the budding relationship.7 She moved with her mother and brothers to Seymour, Douglas County, Missouri, after her graduation. (Whether Myrtle moved with the family is unknown, but there is no evidence of it.).8 "After we left Lamoni," she later recalled, "John got so lonesome for me he packed up and came down. Stayed with us all winter. February came around and the pastor came over and talked to Mother, and they decided that it would look a lot better if we got married.9 So John went and got a marriage certificate, and the pastor performed the ceremony."7 She married John Perry DeForest Stubbart, son of James Mitchel Stubbart and May A. Brown, on 1 Feb 1911 in Tigres, Douglas County, Missouri. Audrey was 15 and John was 20. "Mother had a lovely linen tablecloth, and she folded the corners together and pinned them in place. She brought some Christmas cactus she had in bloom. Those were my wedding flowers; Christmas cactus."10,11 The newlyweds lived with Audrey's mother until John heard that his mother was ill.8 John stayed in Lamoni with his father, got a job hauling lumber, and wrote his young bride to come join him; they would live with his father and take care of John's grandmother.8 However Audrey was now carrying their first child, and as Enid Irene was born on her grandmother's Ozark homestead, either they delayed the move or they returned to Etta's home for the birth.
     It was a difficult birth, but that was little compared to the fears of the next several weeks. The superstitious midwife would not allow anyone to cut the infant's long, sharp fingernails, and by the time Enid was two weeks old an infection set into a scratch near the corner of her left eye. Seven pounds at birth, she was so frail six weeks later that her parents carried her on a pillow. The doctor provided little hope, insisting that even if the babe lived, which was unlikely, she would be blind and suffer permanent brain damage from the fever. Happily, he could not have been more wrong. Enid survived, her eyesight and her intellect were unimpaired, and the grateful family eventually relocated to Lamoni as planned.12 She and John Perry DeForest Stubbart lived in at his father's house, Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa, from 1912-1915 Their son Veryl was probably born here.8,13 She lived in 1916 Independence, Jackson Co., MO.14 On 8 Aug 1916John and John took up a 320 acre homestead claim ajoining his father's, 10 miles northwest of the Oshoto post office15 in Carbon County., at his father's urging. "John worked as a carpenter with his father. They built our log house with the help of neighbors on a 640-acre homestead, but not before we lived for a while in a tent. We moved into the house the day before Thanksgiving -- the most thankful Thanksgiving I ever had. We just put our arms around each other and cried."16 They would remain in Wyoming for the next twenty-eight years.8,13
     The four-room log house where John and Audrey raised their family was never called a cabin. Audrey apparently inherited her mother's talent for making her family comfortable regardless of the circumstances. Her daughter Enid remembered lying on carpets on the cabin floor to keep out the cold Wyoming winters, and Audrey could entertain herself and her family with music from her cherished violin and the old treadle organ. Evenings were frequently spent sitting around the oil-cloth covered table listening to stories read aloud from scriptures or from church publications, by the light of a coal-oil lamp. But in spite of these treasured comforts, life on the Wyoming prairies was isolated. When Enid was ill with rheumatic fever five years after their arrival, neighbors kept horses saddled for a possible ride to tell of the child's death -- the fastest news service available. Thankfully, Enid survived, and the rides were saved for happier occasions.17 She took the teacher's examination and got her certificate in 1918 in Gillette, Wyoming. She drew $90 a month, the highest wage possible at that time.18 In 1944, faced with John's declining health, John and Audrey sold the ranch and moved with their two youngest children to Independence, Missouri. They purchased a small two-story, three-bedroom house on a generous lot of land in the heart of Independence.13 Audrey put her years of school teaching and her love of the English language to work by taking a job as a proofreader at the Herald House -- publisher for the RLDS church -- in 1945.19 Confronted with mandatory retirement policies in 1963, she spent some time training her replacement before "retiring" at age 67 years. It lasted about 2 weeks.19 In almost no time, she was working as a copy reader at the Independence Examiner, the local daily. The advertisement had originally been for a temporary position, but Audrey proved so valuable that she stayed with the paper for the next fourty years.19
     On 5 Jun 1964, John suffered a heart attack, and his health apparently failed thereafter.20 Audrey Fay was widowed 18 months later when John Perry DeForest died of a heart attack on 17 Dec 1965 in Independence Hospital, Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. They had been married almost 55 years.13 Audrey was not bowed by widowhood, though. She missed her husband as deeply as she had loved him, but she continued to enjoy her work and her life with the same vigor and enthusiasm that had sustained her all her life. Audrey remained active in the church orchestra and choir, travelled extensively throughout the world, and remained employed full time at the Examiner, where she became a newsroom fixture.2
     As the years marched on and she remained healthy and sharp, Audrey's longevity began to attract media attention. When personal computers invaded the newsroom in the late 80s and early 90s, she took classes to learn how to use them so she could stay at her desk. She was chosen as a model for a statue commemorating pioneer women, and at 97 she was named "Senior Worker of the Year" by the Missouri State Legislature. Media interviews on her birthday became an annual ritual; Audrey spent her 100th birthday at work, navigating cameras and taking phone interviews from around the world while working to get the paper out on time. She was often asked the secret of her longevity; sometimes she would list the usual suspects -- faith, moderation, healthy living -- but other times she would admit that she really had no idea. Those who knew her would strongly suspect that the real secret to Audrey's long and productive life was simply that she never stopped living life.
     Audrey eventually did have to retire, though. She became increasingly frail in her 104th year, and never returned to work after a May 2000 fall in her home. She formally retired from the Examiner in Sep 2000. Audrey Fay died peacefully in The Groves, Rosewood Health Center, Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, on 13 Nov 2000 at 105 years, 5 months and 4 days of age.2 She was laid to rest at Mound Grove Cemetery with her husband.2 A true matriarch, she was survived by her five children, 14 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, and 17 great-great-grandchildren. Perhaps more importantly, she left behind a remarkable legacy of personal integrity, strength of character, love of learning, and zest for life that still inspires her family and friends today. Out of respect for the privacy of living relatives, additional information on Audrey's descendants is kept private; please contact the author with inquiries.

Last Edited=December 13, 2007

Children of Audrey Fay Morford and John Perry DeForest Stubbart

  • Enid Irene Stubbart (additional info suppressed)
  • Veryl Winston Stubbart (additional info suppressed)
  • Donald P. Stubbart (additional info suppressed)
  • Carol Ardyce Stubbart (additional info suppressed)
  • Kenneth James Stubbart (additional info suppressed)

Citations

  1. Bernard Edelman, Centenarians: The Story of the 20th Century by the Americans Who Lived It (New York: Farrar, Strass and Giroux, 1999), p. 64.
  2. Personal Recollections of the author.
  3. Audrey Stubbart, The Centenarians (n.p.: HCOA, unknown publish date), p. 1.
  4. "Obituary (Fred Morford)," Transcription of article in The Leader, Malvern, Iowa, 19 Apr 1903, p. 1, in an e-mail message from Vicky Winfield to this researcher, 6 Jun 2001.
  5. Bernard Edelman, Centenarians: The Story of the 20th Century.
  6. Bernard Edelman, Centenarians: The Story of the 20th Century, p. 127.
  7. Bernard Edelman, Centenarians: The Story of the 20th Century, p. 127-8.
  8. Bernard Edelman, Centenarians: The Story of the 20th Century, p. 128.
  9. This is almost certainly not the indiscretion that might leap to mind for modern readers. Audrey did not look favorably on "modern living arrangements," and Etta would certainly never have allowed any impropriety under her roof. One can safely assume that the concern of the pastor and mother were truly for appearances, and the fact that the romance was by this time so deeply cemented that the marriage was a given.
  10. John Stubbart and Audrey Morford marriage, 1 February 1911, Copy held by DeAnna Burghart, Laguna Niguel, CA. Original in possession of bride's daughter, Carol Kroeck, as of 2005.
  11. Bernard Edelman, Centenarians: The Story of the 20th Century, p. 12, 128.
  12. Enid S. DeBarthe, Quest for Understanding (Lamar, Missouri: Little Eagle Publishing, 2006), p. v-vi..
  13. Obituary for John Stubbart, Independence, Missouri, undated clipping, probably 18 Dec 1965.
  14. Unknown subject, n.d., researcher's files, Laguna Niguel, Orange County, California, 13, "[In 1916] ... [James Stubbart] went to the sanitorium in Independence with John's daughter Enid, who was having trouble with her nose. Her mother Audrey was in Independence staying with her mother, Mrs. Morford, and caring for Enid.".
  15. John P. Stubbart, Kansas City Life Insurance Policy Application #828309 (Kansas City, Missouri: Kansas City Life Insurance Company, signed by applicant 20 Apr 1939). copy taken from Judy Murphy's papers.. Hereinafter cited as John Stubbart life insurance application.
  16. Audrey Stubbart, Roush, The Centenarians, p.2.
  17. Enid S. DeBarthe, Quest for Understanding, p. iii,.
  18. Bernard Edelman, Centenarians: The Story of the 20th Century, p. 217.
  19. Naomi Russell, Saints in Profile: Audrey Stubbart (Independence, MO: Herald House, RLDS Church, Dec 1982), p. 588.
  20. John Stubbart Obituary, undated clipping, probably 18 Dec 1965.