Alberta Searcy’s emotions ran bittersweet this week as she packed in anticipation of her move to California.
It was extremely hard for her to part with household items she and her late husband, Glen, had accumulated.
“I know the move is the right thing to do, but I will miss all my friends and the Iola community,” she said.
Plagued will ailments associated with old age, Searcy, 86, left for Hanford, Calif., Thursday to live in a retirement village near her son, J.R., and his family. Hanford is near Fresno with a population of around 40,000, in central California.
Prior to her retirement and return to Iola from Topeka in the early 1990s, Alberta worked as a registered orthotist, a person who fits braces for all parts of the body. She also fitted prostheses for women who had had mastectomies.
“I just loved my work at the hospital and in the doctor’s office in Topeka,” she said.
With her enjoyment of helping others Searcy sought out the Allen County Hospital Auxiliary where she could once again work with patients whether it be by delivering cards to a patient’s room or by giving words of encouragement.
Searcy assumed the role of activity director for the Auxiliary and planned parties for the staff and doctors and for nine years organized a style show to draw attention to the Auxiliary.
“I always enjoyed the style shows. Throughout the years I put together 21 shows, 10 in Topeka, two when I lived in Hutchinson and the rest here in Iola,” she said.
She also volunteered her time to Allen County Hospital’s hospice care. Whenever someone was needed to sit with a hospice patient she made herself available.
It was following a call from hospice that she fell and broke her leg a couple of years ago.
“I was rushing to go sit with the patient when I fell,” she said.
Searcy was also a member of Dirt Diggers Garden Club, Harmony Society, Order of the Eastern Star and Calvary United Methodist Church in Iola.
“I don’t have a green thumb. I think they asked me to join the garden club because they thought I would be a lot of fun,” she said.
ALBERTA MET Glen Searcy in April 1944 when she was 19 and he was 20. They were married six months later on Oct. 22 at her parents’ home in Chanute. The couple met at a card party at the home of her sister and brother-in-law, Myrtle and Glen Thomas.
The Searcys farmed for 20 years until Glen developed health problems in the 1960s that necessitated selling the family farm.
With his background in farming, Glen applied to the Kansas Department of Agriculture and was hired to work in quality control for feed and fertilizer in an area that covered 29 Kansas counties.
The couple lived in Hutchinson for eight years before moving to Topeka in 1973 where he had a desk job with the Agriculture Department.
After Glen’s retirement, they wanted to return to Iola to resume their life with family and friends.
That life stopped for Alberta on March 11 when Glen died.
“I remember sitting by Glen’s bedside on March 10, which was his birthday. The room was filled with balloons. He said to me, ‘tomorrow let’s take the balloons outside and let them soar into the sky,’” she said.
Glen’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren fulfilled his wish of releasing the balloons as his casket was placed in the hearse at his funeral.
“I PLAN to find a new church when I get to Hanford and hopefully begin new friendships, but I’ll never forget all the wonderful times I’ve had here in Iola,” Albert said.
Waiting for Searcy in Hanford are her son, J.R., his wife, Susie, two granddaughters, Raquel and Gerra Sue and six-great-grandchildren.