“She always leaned to watch for us,
anxious if we were late,
in winter by the window
and in summer by the gate.
And though we mocked her tenderly,
who had such foolish care,
the long way home would seem more safe,
because she waited there.
She never could forget
and so I think that where she is,
she must be watching yet,
waiting till we come home to her,
anxious if we are late,
watching from Heaven’s window,
leaning from Heaven’s gate. “
In the year 1913, Woodrow Wilson was President of the U. S.; the first Woolworth’s Store was opened; Income Tax became a reality; and “Peg of My Heart” was a popular song – all important and meaningful facts; but for our family the most significant event in 1913 occurred on Halloween, Oct. 31, when our precious mother Bertha Agnes Young was born in Sugartown, La., to Stephen and Ella Young, the middle child in what would become a family of 13 children. Bertha passed away on Sept. 25, 2013, having reached the wonderful age of 99 years. She was just a month short of her 100th birthday when, surrounded by her loving family, she slipped the bonds of this Earth and put out her hand to touch the face of God and “flew away.”
Her childhood was spent at a beautiful home site in the pines of Louisiana where the family grew cotton, corn, melons and purple hull peas. She told many stories of growing up, working in the fields and in the kitchen and loving school – she was the Salutatorian when she graduated high school – our youngest brother Larry loved to tell her that there were only two in the class! She loved playing basketball even though her daddy did not approve of girls participating in sports. This love of the game remained with her all through her life, loyal forever to the University of Texas Lady Horns and of course the San Antonio Spurs. Even in her later years the guys in the family always kept her up to date with schedules for the teams and sometimes her bedtime was quite late because she was watching a basketball game on TV.
It was on a trip to Port Arthur to visit her sister Frances that Bertha met this handsome young seaman, Horace Julian Fohn. What brought these two so different people together, this beautiful Cajun girl from Louisiana with her black hair and brown eyes and this blonde, blue-eyed German country boy from Hondo, Texas, only God knows. But it must have been love at first sight because they were married some five weeks later! This loving union lasted 64 years until Daddy died in 1998. During these years Bertha and Horace lived in Austin, where Mama took care of a young family of five children while Horace worked for the FAA at the Austin Airport. Their dream of a country home became a reality in 1955 when they moved to the Rockne area in Bastrop County and enjoyed raising cattle, peanuts, melons, and vegetables. Mama’s long row of tall Zinnias could always be seen beside the house. She was busy with her children and parish activities at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rockne. Despite a debilitating car accident in 1961, Mama never gave up, fought through the physical therapy until she could walk again and then never looked back. She was always busy sewing, canning, cooking, cleaning or caring for the neighbors. While in her 80s she could be found driving to the nursing home in Bastrop to help with Bingo for the “elderly!” And of course no one will ever forget her famous roast and gravy and the delicious hot rolls which she always buttered for everyone before serving!
Her legacy of Faith, generosity and a positive spirit will always remain with her children and her grandchildren. She was a woman of great faith even when she lost one of her children, Larry, in an auto accident right before the holidays in 1976. She lived at home even after her beloved Horace died until injuries from falling made it necessary for her to move in with her daughters and eventually to Parkview Nursing Home in Lockhart. Never complaining, but accepting whatever God had in mind for her, she will always be an example to all of us.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Horace; a son, Larry; daughters-in-law, Cherry and Glenna; and her parents and 11 siblings. Surviving her and missing her deeply are her brother, Jack Dempsey Young, in California; daughters Gwen Till and husband, Felix, of Lockhart, Elberta Fiebrich and husband, David, of Bastrop, and Christa Koenig and husband, Jim, of McQueeney; and son Kenneth Fohn, of Geronimo; and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Julie and Robert Hitter; Haley and husband, Brian, and Ryan; Randy and Rhonda Till, Kendall, Trent and Logan; Sarah and Doug Schnautz, Kelby, Cass and Zane; Mark and Amber Till, Kendyl, Joseph and Gwyneth; Paul Till, Sophie, Augie and Levi; Jeff and Christian Fiebrich, Caitlyn; Dianna and Bruce Kana, Alyssa and husband, Eric, Ashlyn and Alec; Tim and Sabrina Fiebrich, Tyler and Kaedra; Greg and Stacie Fiebrich, Mason and Loren; Chris and Wendy Fiebrich, Nathan, Nicholas and Macy Jo; Corey and Rachel Fohn, Hannah and Kolby; Shelley and Joey George, Ryan, Matt, and Danielle; Shannon and Jeff Williamson, Caden, Alyssa and Jake; Brittany and John Hanna, Hudson, Cortland and Berkeley; Josh and Amy Koenig, Jacob and Jase; Drew Koenig; Wendy Fohn, Marissa and Bryce; Laura Jean Fohn Perry, Jacobye, Mahalia, Lorenz and Collier.
We wish to say a special thank you to all the Parkview staff, who always treated Mama with loving compassion, and to Odyssey Hospice who was there with Mama and all of us as she was on her final journey.
Mama, we love you, now you can finally be with Daddy and Larry. Keep the light on for us and wait for us on the porch.