Forever In Our Hearts

Bench Dedication To Honor Women

Posted: May 7, 2013

A granite memorial bench at the Clover Hill United Methodist Church bears the names of Manola Guyer, Evelyn Howdyshell, Vernie Lee, Blanche Myers, Wilda Shifflett, Ivy Simmers, Fay Wheelbarger and Geneva Whitmore. The bench will be dedicated May 12 at the church, a culmination of the efforts of (from left) Lois Driver, her daughter Lorrie Wood, Alta Ritchie, Louise Long, Anna Simmers, Sue Farley and Lydia Baylor. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
When storm clouds gathered in Clover Hill, a young Evelyn Howdyshell took off running.

A mile up the road, Blanche Myers was scared of the thunder, too.

“They supported each other,” said Howdyshell’s daughter, Lois Driver of the eight women whose friendship lasted a lifetime.

On May 12 at 2 p.m., family and friends will gather at Clover Hill United Methodist Church to celebrate the women’s impact on their community.

Growing Old Together
“These eight women were the most close-knit people,” said Lydia Baylor, Myers’ daughter. She recalls her mother’s phone ringing regularly for advice, knowledge and recipes.

“Any of the eight of them …  was like your mother,” she said. “You could go to them for anything.”

They’ll be honored with a granite bench installed at the church, engraved with each of the names: Manola Guyer, Evelyn Howdyshell, Vernie Lee, Blanche Myers, Wilda Shifflett, Ivy Simmers. Fay Wheelbarger and Geneva Whitmore.

The bench also features the UMC symbol of the cross and flame, and the words “Forever in our hearts.”

After Simmers passed away, Driver, a neighbor, started brainstorming ways to honor their memory.

“We just wanted to do something for these women …  they helped to shape our families and community,” Driver said.

Most of the women grew up together in Clover Hill, and continued to raise their own families there.

Driver and Baylor both call them “pillars of the community,” each with their own unique charm.

Legacies Live On
Toward the end of their lives, the women eventually all found themselves widowed; the first of whom, Baylor’s mother. Myers was married for 30 years, and died three decades later.

Having friends available just around the block was a “God-send” for her mother, Baylor said. She sang in the church choir until her Alzheimer’s became too much.

“They all had a special talent and they weren’t all alike,” said Manola Guyer’s daughter, Alta Ritchie. She recalls her mother’s love of gardening. She took after her green thumb, with some of mom’s cuttings now thriving in her own yard.

When they weren’t tending to children, gardens or sewing projects, bus trips, bingo games and lunch dates were the highlights of their friendship, the daughters remember.

And they weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty: They contributed community service, such as working in the Clover Hill baseball team concession stand.

“She was always helping somebody,” Driver said of her mother, whether taking people to the doctor or helping write out their bills.

“Take it to Grandma, she can fix anything,” Ritchie would say.

Their care for others was matched in their friendship. “They just really loved each other,” said Driver.

“I miss my mom so much,” Baylor said. “We snapped a lot of green beans late in the evening.”
Contact Samantha Cole at (540) 574-6274 or

NDN Video News