Edith Egler meets a Zebra

Edith Egler celebrates 90th Birthday

March 07, 2001
Santa Paula News
Family and friends gathered at Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant in Ojai February 25th to celebrate the birthday day of Edith Egler, who will be 90 on March 4th. The party was hosted by Edith’s daughter, Joan Kus of Santa Paula. Edith was born March 4, 1911 to May and William Briggs. William Briggs hailed from Kitchner, Ontario, Canada, which was in the country north of Toronto. May came from Wales with her mother, two brothers and two sisters and settled in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan, where she met William.May wanted her children born in the United States, so she spent as much time as she could in Sault Saint Marie. Sault Saint Marie is a city in two countries split by two locks. May’s brother-in-law and his wife had a rooming house on the American side, and Rose was in the United States when baby Edith arrived. Edith’s sister Louise followed 22 months later. Eventually the family moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, lured by work in the paper mills which are still operating there today.When Edith was 7 and Louise 5 years old, their father took sick suddenly with a stomach ailment and soon died. They missed him sorely, but soon John Dolan came along and married May. They then moved to his family hometown, Lake Linden in the upper peninsula of Michigan, where they remained until the 50s.John Dolan took his father’s place, when he retired from the Copper Company’s machine shop, and became a machinist and supervisor. The family all took up residence in the Dolan home a block away from the machine shop. This was a company house but the family had lived there since the 1800s, probably since the house was built. A few years later John Dolan, Jr. was born. The girls’ stepbrother was the only Dolan grandchild.The girls completed their schooling in Lake Linden, and all the children graduated from Lake Linden High. Edith was first in 1928. Edith worked in the county library, a block away from home. At age 20 she married Chester Remillard, and soon had two little girls, Joan and Carole. They lived in nearby Hubbel for a few years until Grandpa Remillard’s house became available, and then moved there. It was a great white farmhouse on the top of a high hill overlooking the village, the lake and the countryside. The house was sited on a few acres, with deep ravines on three sides and an endless woods behind. There was an apple orchard, with one cherry tree in front and barns and a large vegetable garden in back. Chet pruned the orchard and raised a yearly supply of vegetables, while Edith cooked and canned apples and vegetables and made great donuts and goodies.The family had apples in every imaginable dish. Some of the apples could be stored in the cellar to ripen in winter. This was the time of World War II, and they also raised animals for food so the family lived well.During this time, Edith was a stay-at-home mom and Chet delivered coal for people’s furnaces by horse and wagon in winter. Grandpa Remillard had moved closer to town, but he became frail and soon died. The family didn’t have a car and it was a long, hard climb from town to their hilltop home. Grandpa Remillard had a Model A Ford they later inherited.Edith went to work, like many women during World War II, first at the bank as a teller and then at the grocery as a checker. Toward the end of the war, the family moved to town and lived in a couple of old houses after Chet remodeled them. Chet worked for the Copper Company during the war and until the mid-50s, when a strike shut the company down.Edith and Chet moved south to Trenton, Michigan, a Detroit suburb on the Detroit River where it empties into Lake Erie. A new steel mill was opened in Trenton, and Chet found a job there.Edith worked in a gift shop with her daughter Carole, and then took a position as a proof reader for the local newspaper. Next she worked as a bookkeeper in an accounting office, checking tax returns; she then did bookkeeping and dispatching for a Triple-A repair garage and wrecker service.Then tragedy struck. Chet dropped dead of a heart attack at home while doing some improvements on their new home. He was only 50 years old. Edith sold their dream house and lived with her daughter Carol, son-in-law and two grandsons for a while. Joan had two sons also, and later added one more.
Before the year was out, Edith found a new partner, Bob Egler. After seven years they were divorced, and Edith left for the upper peninsula of Michigan to live with her sister Louise, whose husband had died just a few months after Chet. Edith found work there and stayed a year or so before she moved to a Chicago suburb to live with Chet’s sister, Mildred.Edith did bookkeeping in the flower shop where Mildred worked, and later for the school district. During this time she toured Europe with Mildred, and made some long term friends. Later some of Mildred’s friends were going on a six-week tour of Asia, funded by one wealthy widow. One of the women couldn’t go, and Edith was asked to take her place. They went to Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand. The year was 1970 and Edith was almost 60.Some time after that Edith returned to southeastern Michigan to work for the largest and best known florist and nursery in the area with her dear friend Ruth. Ruth’s husband recently died after suffering many years with Alzheimer’s, and Ruth came to visit here a few months ago. Ruth is now semi-retired from her own florist shop.The last phase of Edith’s life before she moved to California to live with her daughter was spent in retirement living in her own apartment in a senior cooperative. She lived there for 20 years, from the day they finished the third floor in 1978 until the summer of 1998. Those were her best years. She did work for a while past 65, as her mother and daughter both did. Eventually when the building fund that was used for maintenance fattened up, they bought a van. This enabled them to do errands or go to appointments, but best of all they could go on trips for long distances such as to Canada or to see the Amish. Edith drove the van and even purchased a new model. They did have a driver when they went on long trips so that they could all relax. The co-op is run by the residents and is very successful. Edith has performed many audits and helped run the place with her friend Irene. Sadly, Irene was taken when her heart failed.Edith’s daughter Carole was taken ill in the mid-80s and died in 1987, a few weeks before her youngest son’s wedding. She finished the silk and dried flowers and decorations for the wedding before she died.After that time, Edith lived happily in her apartment with almost 200 friends in the building. She could still drive to shopping and activities nearby. She could see the Catholic church she attended just across the parking lot. In later years she found it difficult to go to church, so her friend Theresa Brinkman, who lived in the apartment directly below hers, brought her communion each Sunday.Joan came to visit once or twice a year, and caught her up on doctor visits and such. Edith’s grandson Craig lived in Trenton a few years with his wife Lori and Edith’s great grandchildren, Andrea and Andrew. They visited and helped catch up on errands regularly. Bruce, Edith’s son-in-law, and Julie, his new wife, also visited every few weeks.One Sunday morning Edith woke with a pain in her stomach and Marilyn, the floor rep, called 911. Edith went to the hospital, where they discovered a bleeding hole in her stomach. They hooked her up with tubes leading in and out. After two weeks, she was released to go to a nursing home for therapy to gain strength. Edith worked hard for a few weeks and got up to walking 300 feet. In the meantime Joan packed up things from the apartment to move to California.In August 1998, Edith moved to California with Joan. Since then her health has improved, and she now lives happily in a senior care facility in Ojai.

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