Thankful Thursday: Legacy of an Ordinary Life

Arthur Raymond Tully (1897 – 1984)

Arthur, we hardly knew you.

Arthur Tully

When your name came up in conversation, as it did from time to time, it was in disjointed bits and pieces, with little to connect them except for the few vital facts about you that most family trees contain.

Those facts tell us you were born the last day of March, 1897, the eleventh of a baker’s dozen to Charles Hoppin Tully and his wife, Adela Baron, in Tucson, Arizona.  They go on to say that a mere six months after registering for the World War I draft, you found yourself in Portland, Oregon, where you had a whirlwind romance with a young Finnish hotel maid, Selma Kangas. You married her on January 15, 1919, before a Justice of the Peace in Vancouver, Washington, just across the state line.

And then there is the 1920 letter from your father, Charles, who had just lost his beloved wife – your mother – Adela, only two years earlier, when you were only 19.  Still grieving her absence, he shared his advice with you for a happy marriage:

TUCSON, ARIZONA, May 20th, 1919

Arthur Tully
     Portland, Oregon.

My dear son:-

 Received your letter yesterday and glad to hear from you. Received the Sunday paper you sent and must say that it is a good proof of the size and importance of that city.

 . . . Let me impress upon your mind that in order to have the true love of your wife, you must treat her right always.  Be true, and lovable to her.  Love is the one great factor in winning the love of a woman. Never humiliate her in the least but rather let her feel that she can rely on you completely.

  . . . Give my love to your wife and if she feels like writing tell her to drop a few lines. I want her to like me.  All my sons in law and daughters in law seem to look upon me as their truest and most sincere friend and I want her to feel the same way.

 I wish you both unlimited happiness and best luck.    

                                                  Yours lovingly,

                                                 (signed) Charles H. Tully

Between census reports, city directories, and family letters, we learn that you held a number of jobs as a rail car repairman, newspaper printer, and restaurant cook.  And we know you fell on hard times in the Great Depression, a few years after the birth of your children, Vivian and Welner, in 1919 and 1922.  

That is when the void appears.  And you disappear first, then Selma, into two black holes of uncertainty, until her death in 1949 and your own death on May 3, 1984, in Norwalk, California, at age 87.

Clockwise, from left: Selma, Arthur, Welner,
and Vivian Tully.  Anaheim, California,
circa 1922 – 1923.

It’s hard to fill in the blanks of your life, Arthur.  What were your values, what did you wish for your family, who did you dream you would become, and how did you feel when your dreams met with disappointment?

I’m not sure we’ll ever have the answers to those questions, but I can say this, Arthur:  your children, Vivian and Welner, were your greatest legacy.

Without you and Selma, Vivian would not have married John Moyer and had three lovely daughters.  

Without you and Selma, we would not have had Welner, known to the world as “Bing.”  I think you would be proud to know he was a loving family man – the guy everyone wished they had for a husband and father, and for a grandfather and a friend.  

I wish I could have met you, Arthur.  You may have been an ordinary man with an ordinary share of challenges, and you more or less lived an ordinary life. But for the children who were the fruit of that life, who overcame the challenges it brought and left their own legacies of family and love and goodness, I would tell you that in the end, your life left us more for which to be grateful than to wonder about.

Copyright ©  2017  Linda Huesca Tully

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