Twenty years have passed since the death of my sister -Dick Eudaly

Twenty years have passed since the death of my sister,
Katherine Mae (Kay) Eudaly Hart

by Richard Milton (Dick) Eudaly

As we approach the twentieth anniversary of my sister Kay’s death, I want to share some memories of her. I keep on my desk a copy of her funeral service. It reads: Katharine Mae (Kay) Eudaly Hart. November 27, 1946 – March 3, 1995. I want to speak about the “dash.”

When our dad (Nathan Hoyt Eudaly, Sr.) was discharged from, the U. S. Coast Guard at the end of World War II, he, my mom and I moved to Fort Worth in the summer of 1945 so he could follow his call and prepare for mission work at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He bought a home at 4505 Wayside Dr. which was occupied by fellow seminary students, James and Carolyn Coggin. They were expecting a baby in December. For a few months we all lived in the same small house. I was there to welcome their new arrival, Olivia Ruth Coggin, on December 23, 1945. I enjoyed watching her in her crib.

Shortly thereafter, the Coggins found a place of their own, and then we were three again. I missed the baby. That spring Mom and Dad told me that we were going to have a baby of our own. I immediately asked for a little sister…a little girl. They told me I could pray to that end, and I did every day. I don’t know if many babies have had as much sibling prayer prior to their arrival. God was good and gave us a girl. This made me very glad. For the next year and a half, the four of us lived there on Wayside while Dad finished his degree. That same year, he and Mom were appointed by the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board to serve as missionaries in Spanish-speaking areas. My dad felt he “knew” Spanish well enough, having grown up speaking “Tex/Mex in his hometown of Grandfalls, in west Texas.

So we began preparations for our big adventure. The four of us were headed to Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico in southern Mexico, an area where many of the people were of Tarascan Indian origins and Spanish was a second language to them. There were very few foreigners in Morelia. When we arrived in our 1948 Chevy Suburban Carryall and trailer full of belongings, Kay and I were the only two Anglo children in town! Tow-headed, pale-skinned blondes, we were unusual, to say the least. A crowd always surrounded us wherever we went. They had never seen anything like us before.

At first we had no one to play with except each other, as we could not communicate with the native children. I remember that our toys were some straw animals and straw mats except for her doll and my wooden rifle. Quickly, we both did start learning Spanish and were able to understand other kids, as well as participate in our Spanish language church. We learned to eat lots of bananas and tortillas and enjoyed our housekeeper, Agrippina Campos, whom we called Conco.

In 1948-1949, rural southern Mexico was very rugged. We did have electricity, indoor plumbing and running water (that had to be purified), otherwise many conditions were like the early 1900’s in the U.S.A. We saw lots of burros, oxen, horses, wooden plows, etc. As we visited outlying mission points, we contracted malaria, flat worms, pin worms and other sub-tropical associated issues.

The most memorable event of that year was our blowout induced, roll-over car wreck that occurred as we turned on a switchback mountain road close to Toluca, Mexico. One minute I was lying on top of our luggage looking out the rear window of our suburban “shooting” the resident animals with my wooden gun. The next minute I had rolled down the mountain side and the car was upside down in the grass with Mom, Dad and Kay still in it.

Fortunately, we were relatively unscathed except for the car. We were able to be back on our way in another vehicle within a few days.

By this time, it had become evident that my dad’s Spanish proficiency was not adequate for the level of communication necessary to do his job. Within a year, we transferred to Medellin, Columbia, South America so that he and Mom could attend Spanish language school from 1949 to 1950.

This was an interim situation for us. Missionaries and their families would stay in Medellin a year and then transfer to more permanent duty stations.

Our home in Medellin was built around 2 patios – one for us and the couple who also shared the school- supplied house and the second patio in the back for the housekeeper and cook, plus an area that housed the kitchen, laundry and pantry area. We were not supposed to play in that area. Dad was convinced that the cook had her deceased husband’s shrunken head in her room, supported by the fact that we lived close to “head hunter” country. I never found that shrunken head, though I took every opportunity to sneak in and look for it.

Kay and I devised a game of elevator operator. Our windows had bars on the outside and wooden shutters on the inside and NO glass – so we entertained ourselves being alternately passenger and/or operator.

Kay and I were confirmed Mexicans. We did not like Columbian food and were so glad when we learned that we were being transferred to Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico, where Dad would be on the staff of the Mexican Baptist Seminary there.

Our trip from Medellin to Torreon was coordinated so that we could have stops along the way, as long as progress was continued in the same direction toward the ultimate destination. Dad managed to add six extra countries to our trip from Colombia to the states in order to make personal contact with missionaries in those countries. We had stopovers in Quito, Ecuador; Panama City, Panama; San Jose, Costa Rica; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Kingston, Jamaica, and Havana, Cuba. The contacts that Dad made in those cities were folks with whom he would follow up for decades to come.

Our stopover in Guatemala City was full of excitement. The “missionary travel plan” presumes staying with families of missionaries wherever possible, and this stop was no exception. Our few days were spent with fellow missionaries, the Webbs and their 2 children, who welcomed us into their home. Guatemalan regulations required that our luggage be left at the airport for fumigation! So without our pajamas or a change of clothes, we went to sleep in beds and woke up on the floor surrounded by all the heavy furniture in the house and as far away from the windows as possible. A revolution had broken out overnight. The people were balloting with bullets. We stayed low and close for 3 days. The Webb family members thankfully shared their clothing with us. At the end of the conflict, we were able to continue our trip with our “fumigated” bags!

We lived in Torreon for two years (1950 – 1952). Next door to us was a dairy with real live milk cows. I enjoyed visiting our neighbors and helping them with the cows. Our backyard had a tall adobe wall with broken glass all along the top. These walls were not meant for climbing and anyone who did (yours truly) would suffer lots of cuts.

There was a strong American presence in Torreon which was in a cotton farming and mining area known as “La Laguna” (the Lake). I was in school during the days. When we arrived, Kay was still too young to attend. Mom’s mother, Bertha Mae Piepmeier Saddler (“Mom Mae”), came and spent several months with us. And Dad performed a miracle for us. He was able to arrange for our beloved former housekeeper, Conco, from Morelia to join us in Torreon and live in our house with us. We were so happy.

Everyday Conco made fresh corn tortillas for us. Kay and I got some of the corn and played in the yard with it. What a surprise when a few weeks later we had a corn crop in the flower bed. During a revival at our church, Primera Iglesia Bautista (First Baptist Church), Torreon, Mexico, led by Dr. T. B. Maston from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth I asked Christ into my life in the spring of 1952. We waited for me to be baptized until that summer when Dad baptized me in his home church, First Baptist Church, Grandfalls, Texas, where his mother, Katharine Brainard Eudaly, still lived.

In August 1952 we moved back to the states into a home at the Baptist Spanish Publishing House in El Paso, Texas. Except for two furloughs in Fort Worth, Mom and Dad would work here for the next twenty-five years. Dad was in charge of business and distribution which meant that he was responsible for getting the Spanish language tracts, quarterlies, books and Bibles that were printed at the publishing house to all the Spanish speaking world. This required lots of travel on his part.

During that time, Mom wrote 19 books, many of them in Spanish, as well as Sunday School materials for elementary school age children.

Our brother Nathan Hoyt Eudaly, Jr., was born September 10, 1955. He and Kay grew close as I was off to college within five years of his arrival.

On Mom and Dad’s second furlough in 1962-1963, they were in Fort Worth. I was a junior at Texas Tech University studying Animal Science. (As an aside, Tech is where dad had graduated, where Kay would attend and meet and marry William George Hart who has 2 degrees from Tech.)

In Fort Worth, Kay met a new/old friend, Olivia Ruth Coggin, with whom we had shared the house on Wayside Drive some seventeen years prior. Olivia was now a senior at Paschal High School. She was extremely vivacious and pretty. Kay wanted us to reconnect and talked to me about going out with Olivia when I came to Fort Worth for Thanksgiving break in November, 1962. I took her up on the idea and in 1968, Olivia and I were married, and well, the rest is history. (I’ll share the dash between 1962 – 1968 at another time!)

I am very grateful that the sister I prayed for brought me to the wife that was perfect for me. And it occurs to me with this writing that I shared that little house on Wayside with four ladies who all accomplished a great work in me: Kay, our Mom (Hazel Marie Saddler Eudaly), Olivia and her mom (Carolyn Garrick Coggin). Thank God for His providence in all things, even the prayers of a child for a little sister.