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Bell Family Reunion


Posted By: JCGS Volunteer
Date: 5/5/2017 at 12:29:58

Brothers and sister together after 35 years of separation
(photo caption: Carrol Wheatcraft (center) shows sister Nancy Knauber and brother Jerry Bell a photo of the siblings taken 35 years ago.)
Carrol Wheatcraft of Newton and his two brothers and sister have not been together at one time for 35 years, though it almost occurred this weekend. He is still excited after finally meeting the sister he last saw when he was 3 years old.
The family split in 1954, the parents divorcing, and the children scattered to four different homes.
Roger Bell, who is now 40, went to live with grandparents in the Monroe area. He is a half brother to the other siblings. Carrol, 38, was taken in by an aunt and uncle in Newton, Don and Grace Rexroat. Jerry Waits, 36, was adopted by a Knoxville couple, and Nancy Knauber, 35, was adopted by a Church of the Nazarene minister and his wife.
All but Jerry grew up knowing they had siblings. Because Roger and Carrol stayed with family members, the two brothers occasionally saw each other.
The Newton man has few memories of the time before the family split.
“Growing up I remembered a house with a hallway that had a blue rug, and a black Labrador dog,” said Wheatcraft. “It would even be in my dreams.”
Then at the age of 12 he was taken by his aunt and uncle, who he refers to as Mom and Dad, to his grandparents’ house. There he met Roger – as well as discovered the hallway which haunted his dreams. The blue rug was still there, as well as a much older Labrador.
Last year Carrol decided to find his other brother and sister. His quest was made easier because his aunt and uncle knew the names of the adoptive parents.
Going through the Church of the Nazarene, he traced Nancy’s new family to Indiana. Her mother was contacted first, and she in turn asked Nancy if she wanted to meet her biological brothers. She did.
After numerous phone calls and letters Nancy arrived by bus Friday.
Jerry was visiting his father when Carrol’s minister phoned in September. He turned to his son and dropped a bombshell – “Would you like to meet your brother?”
Until that moment Jerry had only known he was adopted.
Carrol jokes that he’s probably passed Jerry on the streets of Knoxville and never knew he was within feet of his brother. He also remembers a friend once accusing him of snubbing her in Knoxville. He now wonders if she hadn’t met his brother and confused the two.
Since that time the three brothers have met several times.
Sunday the sibblings were hoping they could all meet at Carrol’s together for the first time since they were small children. Roger, a Tama truck driver, couldn’t make it because of work. Carrol and Nancy did get to meet him later that evening in Grinnell after Jerry had already left for home.
The three brothers and sister aren’t giving up and have planned another reunion in June. Then they hope to reenact a group photo last taken 35 years ago.
Source: The Newton Daily News; Monday, April 17, 1989, page 1


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