By Terry Carter, Editor
My mother was a superb mom, grandmother, friend, mentor. She was a member of the Samuels family, a group of go-getters and achievers who have left a permanent mark in our family history.
Her two older brothers survived her and attended her funeral a few years ago. Both are amazing men, who exemplified the Samuels men with high intelligence, ethics, style and class. Both should have written books about their upbringing and achievements in life. It must be said they are the sons of a great father, my grandfather.
And grandpa Samuels was the most talented people I have ever met. He could play probably 12 musical instruments, had professional baseball skills and opened one of the best welding shops in the Midwest. Grandpa apparently worked miracles in welding and blending metals together. Yet he could smack a baseball over everyone’s head at family picnics as easily as he could lay down a soft bump in front of his 5-year-old grandson standing near third base.
As great as my grandfather Oren D. Samuels was, it appears he conceded the top billing to his wife and my grandmother, Lucille Samuels. Because of her strong will and effervescent personality, Lucille led the way for 20th century women, setting standards reserved previously for g0-getter males in society. She had an opinion on every subject and led by example.
During my childhood, I heard rumors that my grandmother was a leader among leaders and perhaps had the governor of Indiana and Mayor of Richmond over to her memorable home on Southwest First Street. True or false, I cannot say. But everyone respected and obeyed Lucy. In retrospect, she was treated like a former mayor in that town of some 50,000 residents.
She inspired each of her children and each generation thereafter. We still tell stories about her achievements. Two of my cousins, Susie and Vickie, lived closest to Grandma Samuels. They inherited her inner strength, integrity and her will. Growing up in Michigan, my family seemed to spend 2+ weeks each summer near the Indiana-Ohio state line to get a healthy dose of home cooking, baseball with grandpa/cousins/uncles/aunts, play Euchre all night and soak in the words of wisdom from grandma.
I recall once that my sweet Aunt Mert had called on the phone several days after we arrived to see if the Carter kids wanted to join her family for some shopping. I may have been just old enough to think I was smart. So I checked with my brothers and told Mert that may not be too interesting with the pool and golf course calling my name. She politely said OK and goodbye.
Not 30 seconds after I hung up did I learn from Grandma Samuels that Aunt Mert had spent weeks researching and devising a list of things she and girls thought we would enjoy doing. Then Lucy looked at me with her no-nonsense stare and said these fateful words, which I will always remember: “Your Aunt Mert does a lot for you. Don’t forget that when she calls back– and she will call back. When when does, you better jump at whatever she offers next because it’s the right thing to do. Do you understand me?”
Big gulp from the 9-year-old boy. Then a “Yes, ma’am.” Sure enough, Aunt Mert called back five minutes later – after talking over options with her brilliant daughters – and offered a chance for us to go pick our own strawberries in Ohio. Without even asking my brothers, I volunteered all three of us for about four hours of picking fruit and taking home enough for our family after delivering 10 times that amount to the farm we visited. Lesson learned from the wisest grandma I’ve ever met.
Lucy and Oren passed on some amazing intelligence and strong personalities to their two handsome sons and one outstanding daughter. My mom was the youngest of the three Samuels children, and June was also about as peaceful a soul as you could find – nearly the opposite of her strong-willed mother in the 1930s-1940s…