Monday, April 13, 2015

A to Z April Challenge: K is for Kathleen

“We need to get together more often and not at a funeral.” How many times have you and a cousin said that? Funerals are much like a family reunion. You can learn a lot about a family just by looking at who showed up. Using my grandparents’ guest books and sympathy cards, I’ll be exploring “Who came to the funeral?

is for Kathleen Sigler Rinney, my maternal grandmother’s best friend when they were girls growing up in the Shenandoah Valley. In 1963 Kathleen and her husband Edward Aulis Rinney attended the funeral of her friend’s husband and my grandfather, Orvin Davis.They sent a spray of yellow and bronze mums with Croton leaves. Oooh that sounds beautiful.

It’s a bit of a puzzle as to how Grandma and Kathleen were childhood friends. Kathleen was the daughter of Chester and Mary Alice Sigler of Luray, quite a few miles from Shenandoah. It would have been inconvenient for her to attend school with my grandmother.
Gladys Kathleen Sigler
Gladys Kathleen Sigler
Probably between 1920-1923

Perhaps Kathleen spent time with her grandparents or other relatives who lived closer to Shenandoah. If so, that might be where Grandma saw Kathleen’s grandmother. The story my grandmother always used to tell was that Kathleen’s grandmother was Black; she always wore a large bonnet, probably hiding her hair. The family passed for white. That would explain why I cannot find any evidence of a Black, “Colored,” or Mulatto grandparent anywhere in Kathleen’s family tree. If anyone was actually NOT white, they did not claim it in a census.

Kathleen’s father was a grocery salesman, so it’s possible he sold to my grandparents who ran a store on Sixth Street in Shenandoah. But would Kathleen have been her father’s sidekick on those sales runs? I rather doubt it.

At any rate, they were friends. When Kathleen married Edward Aulis Rinney in 1928, she moved to Washington D.C. Edward was a native of Finland but had been in the United States since 1914. Like their father, Edward and his brothers were all carpenters. I wonder if they were “finish carpenters” or just “Finnish carpenters.” Yes, folks, I’m here through the weekend

Rinney house in Takoma Park, Maryland
snipped from Google Maps
211 Hodges Lane, Takoma Park, MD
About 1934, Edward and Kathleen moved into a house at 211 Hodges Lane in Takoma Park, Maryland. It is likely Edward built the house. As of this writing, the house is for rent and you can tour the house HERE. (But I make no guarantees that the tour will be online when this post airs.)

For a time Kathleen was a clerk for a department store. According to city directories, she was an authorizer for Woodward & Lothrop, a chain headquartered in Washington D.C. Later she became a supervisor at the store. What she authorized and whom she supervised, I have no idea. But she formed a tight circle of friends among her coworkers.

Kathleen Rinney and friends Washington DC
This photo was attached to the family tree of Irene Lanham  (second
from left) on
Kathleen is fourth from the left.
Irene was also an authorizer for Woodward & Lothrop
photo courtesy of Irene Hoffert Crofford

At some point Kathleen and Edward returned to Luray, maybe in their retirement years.

Lucille Rucker Davis and Kathleen Sigler Rinney
Left: Lucille Rucker Davis
Right:  Kathleen Sigler Rinney
Virginia Beach, Virginia
They are buried in the Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Luray, Virginia.

Kathleen Rinney tombstone
Photo courtesy JAC

Don’t keep your knickers in a knot; put the kibosh on that kerfuffle; keep a hold on your Kinkajou and Kangaroo; kick up your kilt; knit a kerchief.  And whatever you do, key up for the A to Z April Challenge.

© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Hubba hubba - look at those bathing suits!

    1. LOL! They must have been doused in SPF 2000 too.

  2. Love the Finish/Finnish joke-yes you are here through the weekEND. I know no one else will get that, or maybe you will be corrected, "it's WEEK Mom, not weekEND" hahahaha!

    I bet Grandma and Kathleen had a good time together, I can smell the "Sea & Ski" now.

    1. Good ol' Sea & Ski. Do they still sell that?

  3. Hi Wendy. Nice to have Kathleen's story, and so cute of the two friends years later. I inherited a lot of old photos without names. I assume some were friends of family (possibly even relatives), but without names, you can only keep the meaningful and toss the rest...which I find so hard to do.
    Inventions by Women A-Z

    1. It's painful to throw away pictures knowing how important pictures can be in family research. Until I saw "Rinney" in the Guest Book, I had totally forgotten Kathleen's name, so that swimsuit photo was in danger of being one of those unidentified.

  4. That house would have been cool to look inside! I didn't click on the link, but just looking at it from the outside opens up possibilities of what could be inside :) I liked the picture of the two in the bathing suits. They were more adventuous than I wuld have been to wear them and enjoy time by the water.


    1. The inside is typical of the period, but I do wonder what the Property Brothers might do with it.

  5. A lovely portrait of tithe young Kathleen.