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ELSIE McFARLAND CHAVANNES

Elsie McFARLAND CHAVANNES was a remarkable woman.

She was born in Whiting, Iowa, Dec. 9, 1890. Her father left her and her mother about the time she was born. Her mother, Lura SISSON, took in washing and sewing jobs to support them. That was in the days when you washed clothes in a tub, rubbed them on a scrub board and ran them through a ringer. But they were happy people.

Elsie loved school -- as a student, and then as a teacher. It showed in her school report cards, which she saved over the years. In 30 classes through junior high and high school, she had 29 A's and one B.

She attended Iowa Teachers College (now Northern Iowa University) in Cedar Falls...then the University of Iowa.

She taught in six Iowa high schools -- Whiting, Salix, Oelwein, Blockton, Clearfield and Mt. Ayr -- and in Brookings, S.D. Later she taught at the American Institute of Business in Des Moines.

She majored in Latin, but also taught all kinds of math, English, grammar, history and other subjects. Her first husband, William Harold McFARLAND, also an educator, said with pride, "Elsie can teach everything but manual training."

She was married to McFARLAND in 1921. He was school superintendent in three Iowa communities, northwest supervisor in the Iowa Department of Public Instruction (1944-48) and chairman and editor in publishing a new Iowa high school curriculum before his death in 1948.

In 1950 Elsie was married to Arthur E. CHAVANNES, who was in the printing business in Des Moines. He died in 1969.

Since then she lived with her son, Richard "Dick" McFARLAND and his family -- in Detroit, then Roseville.

She retired as a full-time teacher in the 1940s, but she tutored students in Roseville schools as a volunteer as late as the age of 85. She tutored in Parkview Junior High and Lake Owasso Elementary School, and Parkview gave her a certificate of appreciation.

Shortly after she suffered the first of several strokes that led to her death on Monday, January 25, 1982.

A few comments help tell the kind of person she was:

A letter by F. C. EASTMAN, head of her department at the University of Iowa, to the Iowa Education Department: "She is bright, versatile; has uncommonly good initiative; a wholesome winning personality; has a cheerful disposition; is an indefatigable worker; will carry a fine influence into both school and community. She will give the best that is in her."

C. M. DUFF, school board president in Blockton, said in a letter: "She ranks with the best; an excellent lady who has a smile for all; I have never heard anything but a good word for her."

Son, Dick remarked, "She was a great mother, patient and encouraging. Off-hand the only time I recall her getting angry with me was when my cousin Jim and I disobeyed her orders and went swimming in a farm watering hole called "Guy's Pond," -- a mixture of muddy water, a few cow droppings and a little barbed wire."

Last Christmas said something important. She was 91. Many of her friends were gone. But more Christmas cards came for "Grandma Elsie" than anyone else in the family.

To submit your Ringgold County obituaries, contact Sharon R. Becker at
srbecker@windstream.net.
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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