Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Emma Sturgeon Barwick just turned 95 years old

  • Both daughters and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren gathered Sunday to help Erma Sturgeon Barwick celebrate her 95th birthday.

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  • Both daughters and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren gathered Sunday to help Erma Sturgeon Barwick celebrate her 95th birthday.
    “I started all this,” Barwick said, looking around the living room packed with her descendants. “I’ve got family here from Texas, Manhattan, Joplin and Springfield, Mo., and this isn’t even all of them.”
    She has two daughters, Jewell Turner, Pittsburg, and Rochelle Wilson, Concordia, along with six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
    “My grandchildren range in age from 2 to 54,” Barwick added.
    The family first had dinner at Chicken Annie’s, then returned to Turner’s home for birthday cake and punch.
    Barwick was born in 1918 at Arma, the daughter of John and Emma Citron.
    “When I was born I had three brothers, ages 18, 16 and 12,” she said. “I used to say that I had four fathers.”
    Barwick has spent her entire life in the Arma and Pittsburg area. She attended Lakeside Elementary School and is a 1935 graduate of Pittsburg High School.
    She well remembers teacher Ethel Ludlow, who later taught daughter Jewell.
    “Miss Ludlow would call Jewell by my name, and that would make Jewell so mad,” Barwick said. “She wondered why the teacher could remember my name and not hers.”
    She was married twice. First was Harold Sturgeon, father of both her daughters. Several years after his death she married Chet Barwick, who is also deceased.
    “I had two great husbands,” Barwick said. “Some women never have one.”
    During the Korean War she worked at the Kansas Ordnance Plant, Parsons.
    “In 1954 they were doing an agricultural census, and I worked in that,” she said. “A man from Washington, D.C., interviewed me for the job. He’d ask if I had done this and that, and I hadn’t done anything. Then he asked if I was married and I said yes. He said, ‘If you’re married, then you know how to tell people what to do - you can go to work’.”
    In 1958 she got a job as a supervisor at the age-search U.S. Census Bureau in Pittsburg, and worked there for 13 years.
    Barwick began teaching Sunday school when she was 14 and did that for 30  years, first  at the First Christian Church and later at Trinity Baptist Church. She also sang in church choirs for many years and for funerals, especially those arranged by Brenner Mortuary.
    “George Brenner would call me, and if my husband answered the phone, he’d say, ‘I’m calling to make a date with your wife’.”
    She and her first husband did some traveling, including a visit to Washington, D.C., where Barwick had her photo taken while sitting at  Vice President Richard Nixon’s desk.
    Page 2 of 2 - They also attended a concert by Lawrence Welk and his band at the Hollywood Palladium. Her husband danced with the “Champagne Lady,” as Welk called his lead female vocalist, but Barwick declined an invitation to dance with Welk.
    “I was too shy,” she said. “I wish now I’d done it.”
    But that’s a very minor regret. All in all, Barwick had, and continues to have, a good life.
    “I’ve got a wonderful family, and am proud of all of them,” she said. “I did have a serious illness a few years ago, but thanks to the grace of God and a wonderful surgeon, I’m still here and doing pretty well. I still try to be a little active, and go to PATH meetings, Lunch and Learn at the hospital and Pittsburg Senior Citizens Club meetings.”
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