Today, July 25th, my great-great-uncle, Raymond Daugherty, would have celebrated his 96th birthday, four months ahead of his nephew, my grandfather, who would have turned 96 years old this November.
Uncle Raymond was born in Boone Township of Madison County in Central Indiana. His eldest sister, Thelma Daugherty, would go on to marry my great-grandfather, Virgil Barmes, and they would become the parents of my grandfather, Leroy “Red” Barmes.
When Uncle Raymond was three years old, the Daugherty family moved to a new farm near Frankton, Indiana. Uncle Raymond recalled riding in an automobile with his mother, carefully watching his tricycle topping the piled high wagon like the cherry on an ice cream sundae.
Back in Boone Township, west of Summitville, Indiana, two young ladies became dear friends for life, Betty Church and Donna Clary. These two best friends somehow became introduced to the uncle and nephew. Within a few years, Donna Clary, my grandmother, married Leroy, the nephew, and Betty married Raymond, the uncle.
Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty were the neatest couple, and while their bodies gave in to the waging war on the aging process, their spirits remained youthful, fun-filled, and brilliant.
When my mother was born, Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty were the first to visit her in the hospital. Twenty years later, along with their son, Steve, Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty came to visit Mother and me the day following my birth.
By the time I began adopting sons, Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty had moved to Spring Texas to live with Steve. My son was adopted from San Antonio, Texas, so we drove four hours to spend an afternoon in Spring so they could be the first to meet my new son. They were thrilled that they were the first to greet three generations of our family’s line.
Shortly afternoon Hurricane Ike, Steve discovered he had pancreatic cancer. January 2011, Steve’s battle ended, and in December, dear Aunt Betty passed away. Uncle Raymond’s decline was swift, and soon the trio was reunited.
Steve was a fascinating guy! He was friends with David Letterman and Joyce DeWitt at Ball State University, and went on to a nice career as a radio/television personality in Indianapolis. The circle of friends he collected was an interesting array of performers, politicians, political personalities: Empress Farah of Iran, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, etc. For my 40th birthday, Steve called, broadcasting out of my answering machine with his familiar, “Cousin Darin,” and had one of his musical friends take a piano request; I chose Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.”
Following my words of appreciation, I was introduced over the phone to Van Cliburn.
The Daugherty trio of Raymond, Betty, and Steve are no longer with us, but, oh, how their love, thoughtfulness, and laughter-filled spirits continue to linger.
Happy birthday, Uncle Raymond!
For those who know Dor-Tees ice cream stand in Alexandria, Indiana, Dick Daugherty is Uncle Raymond’s younger brother.