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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.