Spanish Club, Latin Club, Health Careers Club, Camera Club, Writer’s Club . . . these were just a few of the many clubs Burbank High students could join to pursue further interests.

But now, nearly forty-seven years after graduation, there is one club that several of us never wanted to join, and yet find ourselves members: The Widows Club. Some of you may have heard that I’m the newest member (I think) — with the death of my husband, Carl Crosier last August. Among other Burbank High Class of 1968 members that I am aware of are Sallie Shelton Thomas (her husband, classmate John Thomas died June 4, 2013); Roxanne Leko Lewis (her husband Thomas Lewis died October 12, 2013), and Mary Bozeman Ellerbeck. 

Mary Bozeman, 1968

Mary Bozeman, 1968

Mary Bozeman Ellerbeck

Mary Bozeman Ellerbeck

It all started with Mary filling out the Contact Us form at the top of the page. She is now retired from being an office manager in a medical office. Mary said she and her husband, Lenny “Doc” Ellerbeck were married twenty-five years, but it’s been nine years since she became a widow. They lived in Omaha, NE where “Doc” was a loan officer and collection manager at a local credit union until he died of a massive heart attack.

“We ended up having a large funeral for Doc as his sister-in-law’s Mother passed a couple days before he did so the entire family was in town . . . the small family affair we had planned turned into a large gathering. It was beautiful, with his favorite music and lots of family speaking.”

She went into a deep depression after he passed and was just going through the motions, until her sister suggested that they move to Colorado. They moved to Loveland, about 20 minutes from Estes Park, where Mary got into photography and filming wild elk. After a couple years, though, she moved back to Nebraska to be with her family.

Lenny "Doc" Ellerbeck

Lenny “Doc” Ellerbeck

Mary had some very insightful words on the grief process: “When you suffer a loss as we have, it is like a huge hole in your heart with rough jagged edges like shards of glass and it even hurts to breathe.  Over time the jagged edges smooth over like pebbles in a mountain stream.  The hole is always there but the pain is less and you can actually breathe again. . .  just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will find your balance again. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to work through your grief. You have a right to be sad or angry — we all work through it in our own way.”

Mary Bozeman's daughter and son-in-law.

Mary Bozeman’s daughter and son-in-law.

Thankfully, Maryʻs daughter, Shelly, moved in with her for a year so they had each other to lean on. Shelly is now married to a wonderful man who thinks of Mary as his own mom, and Mary now has a beautiful granddaughter, Liberty. The best news is that Mary’s husband’s best friend of 30 years, Gary, came to the funeral — and the three of them (Mary, her daughter, Shelly, and Gary) went back to Colorado to spread “Doc’s” ashes.

Mary's granddaughter, Liberty

Mary’s granddaughter, Liberty

“Gary and I had been in touch all these years and although I went on some dates, none had any spark. Well, last spring Gary came to visit me here in Nebraska (he now lives in Phoenix), and lo and behold, there were sparks! It seemed kind of natural as we had known each other for 30 years, and after much soul searching and discussion, we decided to give the relationship a try. So far, so good, even though it is a long-distance relationship for now.”

Are there any other members of The Widows/Widowers Club in the Burbank High Class of 1968? If so, please write so that we can support each other.

About Katherine Crosier

I am an organist in Honolulu—a rare breed of folks who play the King of Instruments! Through stories, photos, and videos, this blog is a diary of my musical journey ... and my family just groans!

4 responses »

  1. I too am a widow, my husband passed away in 1984 when we were still in California. I moved to Colorado about 10 years later for a better life for my kids. There have been relationships since but none so far that stuck. I would love to help support the more recent widows/widowers…Jodi

  2. Bill Reimers says:

    My wife passed away in 2002 after a 17 month long battle with breast cancer. The kids were still young and I just didn’t want to bring another woman into their lives. Like Jodi I have had a few relationships, one very special several years long relationship with Claudia Babbe, but like Jodi none have really stuck! I have a wonderful relationship with my three kids, though they are all grown and doing well in their lives, I am still very involved with them. If I never have another loving relationship it will be missed, but I have had wonderful loves in my life and am grateful for that. I am also grateful to Katherine for keeping up with this class of ’68 blog. My love to you all. Bill

  3. Henny Golnick says:

    My name is Henny Golnick. I am the wife and widow of Roger Golnick. I wanted you to know how comforting this article was and that I wish my class of 67 would do the same. It is not easy to reach out as you may know.

  4. […] The last post I wrote on joining the Widows Club must really have struck a chord. We heard from three other people, so far, who have unwittingly “joined the club”: Jodi Tillotson Huddleston, Bill Reimers and Henny Golnick (wife of BHS’68 grad, Roger Golnick), and you can see their comments by clicking here: “A club we never wanted to join.” […]

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