Today is a special day for me and for Roma Mary Grace. Thirty-one years ago today Roma Clara Josephine Rasa Siegel left the physical world and became a guardian angel. She was a mother, grandmother, neighbor and friend to many. To me she was an inspiration and since that day I have often felt her presence in my life. In her hometown of Florence, Missouri, Roma was not only the keeper of family memories, she was known as local historian.
When I first began my path as a professional genealogist, a paramount goal was to research and share my own family stories. Tonight I got the opportunity to do just that. I spoke to the Ozarks Genealogical Society about the 1918-1920 Influenza Pandemic; a topic for which I have great passion. But tonight was more than just an issue, it was about family. It has been 31 years since I spoke in front of an audience in Springfield, Missouri; and 31 years since my grandmother Roma died, on April 12, 1988. Roma married my grandfather, Carl Christian Siegel, in December 1927 and he had died in 1964. Carl had been married before and lost his first wife, Mary Virginia DeHaven, who is at the center of this story.
Although he was born Lewis Arthur Mothersbaugh (1875-1941), our family knew him affectionately as “Uncle Bud.” Bud was married to my great-grand aunt, Maria Magdalena Raiffeisen. I never had the chance to meet him but I have gotten to know him through his own words written in a diary and letters he sent home when he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. This is the beginning of our shared story…