Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A to Z April Challenge: R is for Racey

“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 Racey, Leota Clarice Sullivan Racey, to be exact. She attended her cousin Orvin Davis’s funeral in October 1963. She signed in just after her older sister Elta Sullivan Farrar and ahead of her older sister Floral Sullivan Merica.

Leota was the baby of five girls born to Will and Laura Sullivan Jollett. In a time when many girls did nothing after high school except marry, the Sullivan girls found employment.  Pearl taught school for a brief time; Floral was a bookkeeper and bank cashier; and Leota was a stenographer for the family grocery store.

Leota Sullivan about 1920-23  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Leota about 1920-23

In 1930 Leota married Forrest Racey, a minister. In 1940 they lived in the Ashby District of Rockingham County, in other words, Dayton. Leota worked as a bookkeeper in the office of Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music and Forrest was the college’s business manager.

Later Leota was promoted to treasurer, and Forrest served as president of the college from 1956-1969.  He completed the work of the previous president to move the college from Dayton to Winchester.  A dorm was named in his honor.

from GenealogyBank.com
July 11, 1961
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio)

As a minister and as a college president, Forrest’s name was in the newspaper frequently. But Leota made the news in 1961 when she and Forrest were involved in a two-car collision. Forrest was listed in poor condition at the hospital following face and back injuries.  Leota suffered a number of cuts and broken jaw, satisfactory condition.

The Sullivans and Davises were always close. Their mothers were the best of sisters, so that affection spilled over to their children as well. Even in their older years, the cousins made a point of getting together with one another.

Left to right: Leota Sullivan Racey, my grandmother Lucille Davis,
Pearl Sullivan Strole, Floral Sullivan Merica, Elta Sullivan Farrar

Leota died in 1981.  Forrest remarried, and the three of them are buried happily ever after in Winchester, Virginia.

Forrest Racey and Leota Sullivan Racey http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

Rush right over to the A to Z April Challenge for some roaring good reads, romances, rhymes, and reviews.

© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Without seat belts in those days they're lucky to have survived the crash! Also I don't think I've heard the name Leota before. Floral is different too.

    1. Yeah, Leota Racey is the only Leota I've ever heard of too. I've never thought about Floral though, maybe because it at least sounds normal.

  2. That is interesting the three are buried together; I see Forrest separates the two :) (at least on the grave marker :)

    How sweet the cousins did get together even years later; I loved looking at the pictures of them; reminded me of pictures of my mom with her sisters.


    1. I have another family with a similar set-up with the man in the middle of two wives.

  3. Lawd girl, I never knew Forrest remarried!! I should have know that bit of info.

    1. Yeah, I remember how weird it felt when I found Decatur Breeden's obit and learned he had remarried too.

  4. Interesting that Hazel and Forrest died just 8 days apart.