Monday, June 29, 2009

Phyllis Moreland 1929-2008

My mother-in-law would have turned 80 today. I have been thinking about her and her life and the many questions that she left unanswered. She had an interesting life. I'm not sure how she would have categorized her life, however. She was a very private person and kept many parts of her life unknown to others.

Mary Phyllis Elizabeth Moreland (also called "Babe") was born in 1928 to what she described as poor, middle-aged parents, George and Margaret McIntee Moreland. She was the 3rd of 4 children of her parents. She also had 3 half-siblings from her mother's first marriage. She attended St. Boniface grade school in Peoria, IL and told us that when she was completed 8th grade, Msgr. Middleton was appointed her guardian and she was sent to St. Mary's Academy in Nauvoo, IL for her freshman year of high school (1944-1945). She did not return to school after that year, since she was 16 years old by that time, and her father wanted her to work.

Phyllis married my husband's father in 1948. My husband was born in 1950. She was divorced in 1951 and her son went to live with his paternal grandparents. She never raised him, but often kept him on weekends.

By 1966, Phyllis was a supervisor for AT&T and worked there until retirement. She was president of the labor union for many years and very active in the union activities.

My husband knew of 2 marriages for Phyllis over the years since his parents had divorced, but family members told us that Phyllis had been married more times than that. We have learned that she was married before 1948 to someone in Peoria named "Robert", but have not learned anymore than that. As far as we know, her last marriage was in 1976, and her husband died in 1978. She lived alone after that until her death.

In 2007, we got my husband's birth certificate and learned that Phyllis had another child living when my husband was born. That means that she had a child sometime between 1944-1948. We have questioned the few people that we can think of who might have known about the child, but have had no luck. As her friends said, she was a very private person. Since she had been a guardian of Msgr. Middleton, we thought that perhaps the child had been put up for adoption. We contacted Catholic Charities and they searched their records for an adoption, but none was found.

It strikes me as so very sad that she had a child and apparently was never able to tell anyone at all about it. We continue to search, but feel that we are at a stuck point right now. Perhaps if we could learn who her first husband was, we could find out more. Of course, time continues to pass, leaving fewer and fewer opportunities to find someone.

Phyllis died in 2008, taking her secrets with her. She left one son, perhaps another child, and 3 grandchildren (more perhaps?).

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