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The Mount Ayr Record-News


Elma Elnore (STEPHENS) MAIN was born 9 Mar 1912, to John Gray and Mary Pearl (RICHARDSON) STEPHENS on the family farm in Riley Township, Ringgold Co., Iowa, and died 11 Nov 1993, at the Ringgold County Hospital. She was married 25 Oct 1930, to Weldon C. MAIN in Boone, Iowa. Three children blessed this union: Patricia Ann, Barbara Kay, and John William. Elma's baptism as a young girl into the Baptist Church was a special occasion for her. She later transferred her membership to the First Christian Church in Mount Ayr. She was a past member of Eastern Star and Dorcas. She especially enjoyed Literary Club as long as she was able to attend.

Elma was an avid writer, and in a journal of memories she compiled for her posterity at the urging of her grandchildren from 1986 to 1992, Elma wrote the following description of herself:

"Elma Elnore Stephens Main - 5 ft. 2 in. Light hair, blue eyes. Artistic, could sew and make many things. Liked to write poems after she was alone. Enjoyed travel and nature. Felt she was a good wife and mother. . . .I am proud of who I am, proud to be the mother and grandmother and great-grandmother of so many fine people. Proud of the mates they have brought into our family. Proud of my ancestry and proud to be an American.... I have hope for the future generations and wish for all of them a good life, best wishes, and good luck. May they all live good healthy lives. Each one will be important to their families and all very special people.... May they all find a lot of happiness. The important thing is life, and the chance to live it."

As Elma wrote, her family was a great source of joy and pride to her and she was privileged to enjoy a family reunion in the summer of 1992, which included all of her living descendants. Looking about at this great group gathered for a family picture, she remarked with a chuckle, "Grandad and I sure did start something!" What they started those many years ago in 1930, has become a legacy of love.

Her grandchildren pay the following tribute to their grandmother: "We remember Grandma as a woman whose family meant more to her than anything else on the earth. In her journal, she left us many words of wisdom about family life and life in general. She had a keen sense of humor, especially about herself. Without her wonderful story-telling ability, we would not have known about her interesting life, or about the lives of her ancestors. Because of her attention to detail, we will be able to recognize our ancestors immediately when they come to greet us in the hereafter."

When her journal for her posterity was nearly filled, she wrote: "As I finish this book I can not quit without adding one of my poems I enjoyed writing in my later years." She wrote this poem when she was 73 years old, and called it "My Little Red Hat."

My Little Red Hat
by Elma E. Main

I was just a small girl of four.
Mother took me with her to the hat store;
It was on the east side of the street
With felt and velvet plumed hats so neat.

Mother sat down in front of the mirror.
She tried on hat after hat poor dear.
Nothing suited her just right;
Something was either too large or too tight.

Now I had some time to roam,
Looking for one I might take home;
I stood up on my tiptoes,
Reached for a blue one and froze.

There, right beside it was a prize,
A red velvet one in just my size!
It had streamers and a turned-up brim
That made me feel quite prim.
I stepped over to see myself;
How could I put it back on the shelf?
So, I waited until Mother chose one;
She paid the clerk and then was done.

Mother gently lifted the hat from my head,
We left the store and not much was said.
On the ride home, a tire went flat
My thoughts were still on the pretty red hat.

Not long after that, Christmas came.
We hung up our stockings for gifts with our name.
Unwrapped Christmas morning, the red hat I found.
I could not have been happier if I had been crowned!

We went to my grandparents' a few miles away
We always went there on Christmas day.
I was so proud when I walked in
Holding my hat because of the wind.

They all made a fuss over me,
Almost missing the ornaments on the tree.
Grandma had made us donuts to eat;
Her candy and goodies could not be beat.

The family enjoyed the day,
Then it was time for all to go our way.
As I went to the car, the wind tipped my hat.
I reached to hold on to it quick as a bat.

A storm was moving in on the day;
There was no more time for us to play.
We must get home soon or put the side curtains on
When I got home my hat was gone!

The day had been long and tiring for me,
So I fell asleep on the way home, you see.
With me not holding onto my hat,
It just blew away and that is that.

I felt badly and wanted to go look now,
But Dad said, "No, I must tend to the cow."
Mother said, "The roads are turning to slush;
For now, you must forget it and hush."

I had my turn as "Queen For a Day,"
Even wearing my red hat out to play.
Christmas has brought many gifts since that,
But I still remember my little red hat.

Elma was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Weldon, in 1980, son John in 1974, an infant sister, Carolyn STEPHENS, and an infant granddaughter, Lori REYNOLDS.

Survivors include her daughters, Patricia and husband, Raymond PRENTIS of Ottumwa, Iowa and Barb REYNOLDS of Mount Ayr; grandchildren and their families: Tim and Merry PRENTIS; Julie and Steve WATTS, Joel, Jenna, and Alison; Andy and Nancy REYNOLDS, Ryan, Randi, Russell, and Rick REYNOLDS; Brenda and Kenny GROSE, Niccole, Chris, Nick, Mitchell and Jordyn; Dan and Diana REYNOLDS, Josh and Michelle; Shelly and Jim GOLAY, Ashley and Colton; a sister, Lola, and her husband Russell OLNEY and brother, Ray STEPHENS, and wife, June, and other relatives.

Funeral services were held November 15, at 2:00 p.m. at Wilson-Watson Funeral Home, conducted by Reverend Norman NOBLE. Music was provided by Mrs. Robert FISHER and Mrs. Edna JONES. Casket bearers were: Andy REYNOLDS, Tim PRENTIS, Dan REYNOLDS, Kenny GROSE, Ryan REYNOLDS, and Chris GROSE. Honorary pallbearers were great-grandsons Joel WATTS, Nick and Mitchell GROSE, Josh REYNOLDS, Rick REYNOLDS, Russell REYNOLDS and Colton GOLAY. Interment was in Rose Hill Cemetery at Mount Ayr.

Submission and Transcription by Julie (Prentis) Watts, July of 2009

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

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