an eulogy by unknown author.
The primary word that comes to mind when Edna Evalyn Repard’s name is mentioned is family. For family was primary for Edna and all the Repards and Richmonds as well. And family meant in the richest, fullest, best-lived sense, not in the sense of all the politically-motivated uses of that word in the last decade. For this family is not only large in numbers, it is large in their sense of heritage, genealogy, and history; large in their understanding of relationships, large in their practice of hospitality and care, large in their inclusion of others, large in their acceptance of diversity, large in their love of life and laughter, large in their appreciation of a life lived long and well, as was Edna’s.
Edna was born in Phelps in 1903. Her dad was a farmer, but one who moved around a lot building barns, and working on the railroad. Indeed, his work on the railroad eventually led to his meeting a young man named Ed Repard, who would be the man Edna married. But before that happened, she had gone off to live at a doctor’s hospital in Rochester, to study to become a nurse. That school later became known as Park Ave. Hospital School of Nursing. Edna became an LPN; in fact, one of the very first ones in the whole state of New York. I believe she told me the number on her license was 6, meaning she was one of the first 10 LPN’s in this state. She spent most of her life as a nurse, both within and without the hospitals she served, working until she was 72, only stopping then because her mother was ill and needed health care at home — so, in a real sense she didn’t really stop even then.
One of her nursing tasks was to help deliver babies, and she did that all over this area, usually getting there before the doctor and usually doing most of the work, even though the doctor got the $5 payment. She not only delivered the babies, but would then stay with the new mom for a week to care for her and the little one. I met one of those mom’s last night who spoke of Edna’s care some sixty years ago at the birth of her son.
She then worked at the VA Hospital, usually with the psych patients, whom she treated with dignity and respect even though most did not. Because of this, she was far more successful at getting the patients to calm down, or respond better than the other workers. She also worked at the County Hospital and her , oldest two boys Jim and Rod, remember going and staying there with her when she had to stay there on occasions.
Yet her nursing wasn’t limited to delivering babies and hospitals. She constantly had to patch up her boys and all the neighbor’s kids when they got cut, scratched, or otherwise bruised and broken. Her use of Watkins Petro-Carbo Salve is legendary -- she used it for all kinds of sores and wounds, and most everyone in the family still swears by it to this day.
But in spite of all this great nursing practice and experience, she once felt a pain of her own she thought might be a gall stone. She went to the doctor and told him that. He said, “Well, Edna, it isn’t a gall stone; you’re pregnant.” And Jake (Jerry) became the child thought to be a gall stone. She took a lot of kidding about her nursing skills then, and Jake has been a kidder ever since.
Edna was very fascinated with genealogy. She traced her heritage back on her father’s side to du Richmond, who accompanied William the Conqueror into England, and now her granddaughter, Amy, lives in Richmond, VA, named after one of those Richmond descendants, I believe. Her interest in genealogy lives on in others of the family. Edna had a sense of people and place, recently telling Jim all the names of all the families on all the farms on the road where she grew up. It is a sense that kept her in the same house for nearly 80 years, a house that has seen five generations of Repards.
Edna was always kind and forgiving, having learned from her mother and father, and put into practice, a grand tolerance and acceptance of all kinds of people — different races and colors, and people of poor resources, or even bad reputations. She learned to help whoever was in need and was very generous in doing so, listening to them as well as helping them, in her gentle, caring, nurturing way. She always wanted to be useful, helpful with something to do, and if she wasn’t busy, she’d try to help someone who was. Yet she could also be quite forceful and direct when she thought it necessary, never hesitating to tell you what she thought. And if you needed your behind dusted off a bit, she could do that, too, remembers Jake.
Edna was a great teller of tales and stories of all her experiences and family members have many fond memories of her doing that. She always remembered the cute little things about the kids and grandkids. She was an avid reader -- history, biography, philosophy -- all kinds of books of substance. She once read a huge textbook-like book about the South, gave it to Amy to read, but Amy says it was much too difficult to get through for her. She was very aware of world events, reading appears, watching the news and loved to talk about it, though she would often add, “I don’t know why I do; there’s nothing I can do about it.” She loved the TV show Jeopardy and rarely missed the evening version. There wasn’t much she didn’t know or observe.
Her life and love of life while helping others lives on in her three sons, nine grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. It is obvious this is so by the wonderfully warm and open telling of her life story by the family. Their love for her, her love in them, is obvious and will last their lifetimes. For this is a large family in its life and love and I have been privileged to have heard their stories, and been blessed by their presence.