February 6th, 2006
|08:35 am - A memorial for a former employer, Elizabeth Springer Wrigley, from 1998|
I got a call on 28 January 1998, just as we were about to cake my son, turned 4 (chucked the car seat, moved to a booster). I found that a former boss of mine, Elizabeth S. Wrigley of the Francis Bacon Library & Foundation in Claremont CA USA had died on 26th April 1997. As with many fiercely independent folk, when her health began to fail, she hired help and began to push friends away, not wishing them to see her and perhaps to think less of her because of illness.
Her attorney had been trying to find me from information written in 1987, before I married (but someone overlooked going to the Library across the street, or to my Alumni Office, or even the Library's mailing list, as she had certainly known where I lived and had even seen Arthur), due to a small bequest.
It is always a shock to me to get a call or a letter addressed to my birth name, unused since January of 1984, and it gets my attention and gets my brain jumping to conclusions. When the PI got to the part about had I lived in Claremont, I was unfortunately aware of Elizabeth's failing health from finding out about the Library having been closed in 1995 (only found out because I got a list of books the Huntington didn't need, from a local bookseller handling the matter), and leapt to the correct conclusion. Oddly enough, a listmember from the Ramblin' Rovers (Silly Wizard) is working on the accession/cataloging of the collections from the FBL at the Huntington.
I have some great memories of my time and the Bacon, and time with Elizabeth, and I have acquired some of her speech patterns, and I am grateful for all the ideas and people she exposed me to, traits she encouraged in me (and those she attempted to correct, as well!). The kindling for my Samhain fire this year will be the NYT crosswords I'd been saving for her when I got time to write.
She led an amazing life, was a surrogate aunt to me, and a wonderful boss who I will always regret having to leave so that I could pay more than just rent and food with my salary (non-profits, gotta love 'em). I expect I like Diana Trent of Waiting for God because Elizabeth resembles her in spirit.
I tired to find her people back east--extended family, but got nowhere. I know she was originally from Pittsburgh PA, graduated from the Univ. of Pittsburgh. I believe she was an only child (but I have a vague idea of a niece), and her father was a civil engineer who travelled widely for his work--Elizabveth spoke of having an amah in India. If there is an email address for the Univ. of Pittsburgh alumni office, that would help. She was married to Oliver Kenneth Wrigley, who died in the late 70s in the LA area (they lived in Temple City).
I wrote a letter to the attorney/executor asking about her (extended) family, but he had no records to indicate any--and that may mean nothing at all.
It also turns out that her remains remained in his office, as no-one yet asked felt up to the task of discreetly scattering her ashes on Mt. Baldy, above Claremont. I volunteered to do this when the weather improved, on the anniversary of her death. Doing this did not hit my ick-buttons or any prohibitions that I knew of, and I considered it an honor. I think Julie Robinson-Zurek (the cataloger hired when I was there) scattered the ashes on 23 or 26 April 1998.
She is one of the "ancestors" I call in circle to join us in work, as I think she would have been happy to participate in rituals. Her memorial tree is a Queen Elizabeth Standard (aka tree rose) bred by Walter Lammerts (who has a niece who lived in Temple City, as well) in honour of Queen Elizabeth II of England. Between her and Elizabeth Moberly, it was certain that some form of Elizabeth would have been part of any daughter's name, should I have borne one.
Elizabeth Springer Wrigley, 4 October 1914 (or -15) - 26 April 1997
Cast your eyes to the ocean, Cast your soul to the sea,
When the darkness seems endless, please remember me, please remember me.
This is a beautiful post. Yes, she will live on, especially in the hearts of those who knew her and loved her.