Opinion-Editorial, Tributes

Lorane loses another community staple

Edwards

Sadly, the community of Lorane has lost one of its own this past month.  

Bill Mitchell was one of the few remaining “old-timers” of my generation who was born and lived his whole life in Lorane. He and his wife, Charlotte, who preceded him in death in 2015, were good friends of ours. In fact, Jim and I bought our store, the Lorane Family Store, from the Mitchell family in December 1977. The Mitchell and Edwards families were the only owners of it until we sold it in early 2022. Our combined ownership encompassed 87 years — the Mitchells owned it for 43 years and Jim and I had it for 44 years.

Jim and I attended the memorial reception in Bill’s honor at the Lorane Rebekah Lodge last weekend. As expected, the hall was filled with many whose lives Bill and Charlotte had touched through the years. The food buffet that was provided by the Rebekah and Theta Rho groups was filled with home-cooked casseroles, salads and desserts, that were so much in keeping with the way potlucks were done in years past. There wasn’t a single bucket of KFC or bag of potato chips in sight. 

Don’t get me wrong … I realize that our modern-day “potlucks” are the result of health conwcerns about food preparation done in unlicensed kitchens in private homes and the fact that today’s families are made up of parents who both work full-time jobs, making it necessary for some to provide fast-food options for group gatherings. I confess … I love KFC, so it’s not such a hardship as far as I’m concerned. It’s just that the tater-tot-topped hamburger casserole, the yummy pot of bacon and an assortment of beans, the always-popular green bean casserole, the very cheesy mac-and cheese, the peach cobbler, chewy brownies, and so many others, were all fun to experience again. Bill would have been thrilled. I’ve attended a lot of these local get-togethers with both Bill and Charlotte and the food and the company present that day honored them well. 

After we left the reception, Jim and I made our way down the road to pay an extremely hard — yet very special — visit to a longtime friend. To maintain her privacy, I won’t mention her name, but she worked for us for many years; she babysat our grandkids, was a surrogate “auntie” to them and showered them with love through their childhoods. Jim and I haven’t visited her since the pandemic kept us all apart, but we kept in touch through messages and an occasional phone call. Her fragile health kept her isolated from all but family. But, last weekend was an exception; we called ahead to see if she would be up to seeing us … if home hospice care would allow visitors.  

Goodbyes are so hard, but I’m glad we went. We didn’t stay long, but while we were there, we were able to share our memories of the store, as it once was, and the friends and families we had through the years. Our daughter, her son, and his little daughter and infant son — our great-grandchildren — visited her the next day to say their goodbyes, too. I got the sense that she was at peace, knowing how much love surrounds her from a caring family and the many friends she has made through the years. 

That’s the way it should be. 

Read Pat online: allthingslorane.com

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