Special Neighbors Remembered

We dedicated the blog post “A Voice of the Violet Crown” (December 9, 2012) in memory of a few special neighbors we have known. (Photo of the gate image, below left, by Brentwood neighbor Al Evans and reprinted with his permission.) 

1996

Evelyn H. McCathran, of Crestview. Evelyn was a longtime Dartmouth Avenue neighbor and member of Crestview Baptist Church (her home was just west of the church). Evelyn, 76, passed away January 26, 1996.

2006

Ryder “Red Ryder” Schwartz, formerly of Crestview. Ryder, 39, passed away May 28, 2006. We interviewed his mother, Beverly Lester, on February 9, 2008. A DVD of her videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

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Nesbitt H. (Neb) and Helen Parson, two longtime good neighbors and dedicated gardeners on Morrow Street in Crestview. Neb, 84, passed away February 18, 2009.

Frieda Annie Neff, of Dartmouth Avenue in Crestview. Well into her 70s, Frieda regularly attended National Night Out parties on Dartmouth during the 1980s and 1990s. After having dinner with friends from Redeemer Lutheran Church, she stopped by the party, spent time visiting with everyone, then insisted she’d be fine walking home alone in the dark. Frieda retired from the University of Texas at age 79 after working there 43 years. She loved music, history, her home, and her large extended family. For many years, she and Mrs. McCathran were across-the-street neighbors and friends, and they walked their dogs together through the neighborhood. Frieda, 89, passed away September 5, 2009.

Sarah Walton Parmele Cooke, of Crestview. She was born in the downtown Austin home of her grandparents, Letitia and Buck Walton, a prominent lawyer. Sarah lived in Crestview with her son Glenn Cooke and daughter-in-law Louise for 15 years, until she died at age 106 on November 28, 2009. Sarah always enjoyed reading the letters her grandfather sent her when she was young and liked to go out for Mexican food after church at Crestview Methodist on Sunday. Rachel Cooke, 19, Sarah’s great-granddaughter, disappeared near Georgetown in 2002 and has never been found. Sarah’s grandson and Louise’s son Robert William Cooke, 59, passed away November 5, 2014 (see below). We interviewed Louise Cooke on January 25, 2009. A DVD of her videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

2010

Christopher (Chris) Noffsinger, formerly of Crestview. Chris grew up on Dartmouth Avenue and attended local schools. Like many neighborhood teens, he worked at Crestview Minimax IGA and Little Deli. He graduated from McCallum and was a student at Texas Tech. From a very young age, he loved politics and music. He served as a legislative page for Rep. Elliott Naishtat and performed with the band Dry County. A CD by the group features Chris on guitar and vocals and five of his songs. Chris, 27, passed away April 3, 2010, in San Marcos, Texas. He is remembered by his parents, brother, sister, and extended family; longtime friends; and former neighbors. On November 6, 2010, his mother, Barbara, and friends planted a tree in Chris’s memory in Brentwood Park, one of 115 trees planted during a historic Friends of Brentwood Park event. Chris is part of the We Planted 115 Trees dedication clip.

2011

Lydia Barton Huebel, of Brentwood, who enjoyed working in her yard and inspired neighbor Mona Lee Fultz (of BriteLites Studio in Crestview Shopping Center) to create her amazing gardens. Lydia, 90, passed away January 22, 2011.

Lois Zwerneman Kasper, of Crestview. Lois, 85, passed away January 23, 2011.

Donald E. (Don) Gresser, of Crestview. Don, 85, passed away February 15, 2011. We interviewed Don and Gladys on March 7, 2009. A DVD of their videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

Ben Joe Petmecky, formerly of Brentwood. Ben, 87, passed away October 13, 2011. We interviewed Ben on May 24, 2009. A DVD of his videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

Margaret E. Lankford, of Brentwood. Margaret and her family donated a tree in memory of her husband, L. L. Lankford, for the Friends of Brentwood Park tree planting on November 6, 2010. She appears in the tree dedication clip of We Planted 115 Trees. Margaret, 91, passed away November 20, 2011. We interviewed Margaret on November 6, 2010. A DVD of her videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

2012

Renald Ferrovecchio, of Brentwood. Renald, 43, died in a gas explosion at his home on Payne Avenue on January 9, 2012. In his memory, neighbors raised funds for a purple martin house in the nearby park. Friends of Brentwood Park coordinated the installation, and the house was dedicated April 1, 2012. A memorial bench, installed near the purple martin house, was dedicated on Renald’s birthday, October 5, 2013. Members of his family, who live out of town, attended both events.

J. D. Harper, owner of Crestview Pharmacy in Austin since 1964. J. D., 77, passed away May 11, 2012. Susan Burneson and John Leffler interviewed J. D. in 2004.

Richcreek1500aAlfred Otto (Al) Boemer, of Crestview. Al lived on the northwest corner of Woodrow and Richcreek. Any neighbor who walked past his house when Al was outside will remember him for his friendliness and the way he shared the harvest from his well-maintained garden along Woodrow. Ronnie Prellop of Crestview Minimax IGA told us Al made great homemade sauerkraut and bought his canning supplies from the store. We remember first learning about longtime Crestview gardener Maude Yates from Al when he signed our guestbook at the first Violet Crown Festival in 2003. Maude and her husband Ray, who helped develop Crestview, lived on the southeast corner of Woodrow and Richcreek, catty-corner from the Boemers. (More about Maude here: Houses Sing 1, Yates Avenue, and J. D. Harper Oral History.) We featured a photo of Al’s garden in a Community Tent display at the first festival. Al, 84, passed away Friday, June 8, 2012. In April 2014, photos of his garden (including the one above, taken by Susan Burneson) were submitted as part of the City of Austin’s Community Character in a Box project for Crestview.

Karen Burns Dailey, formerly of Brentwood. Karen, 59, passed away June 14, 2012.

Albert Francis Kirby, formerly of Brentwood and a longtime member of Crestview Baptist Church. Al, 85, passed away October 7, 2012. We interviewed Al on March 29, 2009. A DVD of his videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

Paul Foreman, author, publisher, and bookstore owner. He was born in Texas, lived for a time in California, and returned to Texas in 1978 with his wife, the poet Foster Robertson. They moved to Crestview in 1992. Paul founded Thorp Springs Press in California in 1971 and continued it when he moved back to Texas. In 1979, he opened Brazos Book Shop and Bois d’Arc Gallery at 803 Red River Street in Austin. In West of the American Dream (2001), Paul Christensen described Paul and the shop, which I also remember well: “[The bookstore was] housed in an old field-stone building . . . The intellectuals showed up, the artists drifted in . . . It was a homey place, with a wood stove hissing away, and Paul holding forth on any subject one cared to raise. He was a wise old sage at the age of forty.” According to his entry in the Handbook of Texas Online, Paul also “worked with the Austin Arts Commission; was a founding member of the Austin Writers League and Texas Circuit; helped preserve the home of writer J. Frank Dobie, which later became the administrative offices of the James Michener Center for Writers of the University of Texas at Austin; and lobbied for and saw the reestablishment of the poet laureateship of Texas.” Paul, 69, died December 21, 2012, in Austin. The Thorp Springs Press archive is at the UT Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.

2013

David L. Sikes, a Brentwood neighbor for 45 years. David served during the Korean War, was a founding member and president of Brentwood Neighborhood Association, and worked to improve the basketball court and sidewalk at Brentwood Park, among many other accomplishments in the neighborhood and beyond. David, 80, passed away October 1, 2013. His family donated funds for a memorial bench, which was installed September 2014 in the northeast corner of Brentwood Park.

Robert Henry (Bob) Harwood, longtime Crestview neighbor and member of Crestview Neighborhood Association and a recipient of the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service during World War II. Bob, 97, passed away October 17, 2013. More about Bob here.

Jennifer Jean (Jenny) Malin, UT doctoral student, filmmaker, and gardener. In 2010, two of Jenny’s films were selected for the City of Austin’s Faces of Austin program, including one about Crestview’s Urban Patchwork Neighborhood Farms. Jenny, 26, passed away October 26, 2013.

William L. (Bill) Williamson and his wife Virginia (Ginny) of Crestview. Ginny, 87, passed away March 12, 2010. Bill, 88, passed away November 23, 2013. We interviewed Bill (and visited with Ginny) on October 7, 2007. A DVD of his videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

2014

Evangeline Marion Schneider Bushacker, of Crestview. Lynnette Alley donated a tree in honor of Evangeline and in memory of Evangeline’s late husband, Eugene, for the Friends of Brentwood Park tree planting on November 6, 2010. Evangeline appears in the tree dedication clip of our film We Planted 115 Trees. Evangeline, 94, passed away March 5, 2014. We interviewed Evangeline on November 6, 2010. A DVD of her videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

Robert William Cooke, 59, passed away November 5, 2014. He was the grandson of Sarah Walton Parmele Cooke (above), son of Louise Cooke, and father of Rachel Cooke, 19, who disappeared near Georgetown in 2002 and has never been found. We interviewed Louise Cooke on January 25, 2009. A DVD of her videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

Sidney Paschal Shelton, 85, and his wife, Billie Jean Wier Shelton, 83, of Brentwood, died tragically in their home on December 15, 2014. Six days later, family members, friends, and neighbors attended a ceremony honoring the Sheltons at the Brentwood Park pavilion and dedicated the annual lighting of the Arroyo Seco luminarias to their memory. Neighbors raised funds for a memorial bench honoring the Sheltons. It was installed in 2015 between the playscape and baseball diamond in Brentwood Park.

2015

Diana Gresser Almaraz, 66, who grew up in Crestview and created a Wall of Welcome tile for her parents, Don and Gladys Gresser (see Don, above), passed away January 2, 2015. We interviewed Don and Gladys on March 7, 2009. A DVD of their videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

Judy Carlson and her husband, John, were original Crestview neighbors who lived on Princeton Avenue until late 2014. They also were charter members and longtime volunteers at Crestview United Methodist Church. Judy passed away March 26, 2015. We share many stories about John and Judy on our website, including a special Christmas memory of Judy’s on our “Let There Be Luminarias!” page. We interviewed Judy and John on September 5, 2009. A DVD of their videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

Deborah “Debbie” Muehlbrad Rockett, 65, and her husband Robert Harold “Bob” Rockett, 70, died March 28, 2015, in Chapell Hill, Texas. Debbie was the daughter of neighbors Emory and Wanda Muehlbrad. (More about the Muehlbrads under “Faith Lutheran Church” here.) We interviewed Emory and Wanda February 8, 2008. A DVD of their videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center.

John Leffler, history consultant and professor, Brentwood neighbor, and Special Friend of Voices of the Violet Crown. John, 62, died November 20, 2015.

Glen Eugene (Pete) Journeay, M. D., 90, died December 17, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Dr. Journeay was a longtime Austin physician, with an office in the Crestview Shopping Center for many years, beginning in 1963, where the Little Deli is today, opposite the Crestview Pharmacy. The J. D. Harper family, owners of the pharmacy beginning in 1964, and the Journeay family were close friends for many years. Read more about Dr. Journeay in J. D. Harper’s 2004 oral history.

Read about neighbors-in-history beginning here.

Susan

Copyright 2016 Susan Burneson. All rights reserved.

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