Whitesburg KY

A tribute to Claude Ingram


In honor of my husband.

I am writing this article with a very broken heart. I just want to let all my loving friends, relatives and caring neighbors know how much I appreciate your support and love to my family and me. We will never forget how much you cared during my darling husband’s illness and death. Claude Ingram, 84 years and 2 months.

He passed away January 17, 2013 at 10:31 p.m. at Whitesburg ARH Hospital after a three-month fight with cancer of the brain. He had been feeling bad all summer and fall with dizziness and out of balance, and talking of strange things happening to him. Kind of out of control with himself and the family. Strange thoughts and actions. Only he knew somehow that he was not himself. He tried so hard to work at things he always did, but he grew tired easily.

His thoughts were that he was alone with no one to help him, only God, and he told me one day about that experience. He was making fodder shocks out of cornstalks in our garden and all at once no one was there to talk to or help him. He said he thought if God would come to him he could talk to Him. So he asked Him to come and He did and told Claude He was there to talk and help him.

Oh! What a beautiful feeling to hear his sweet voice tell me what had taken place in the garden. All of it was so good and wonderful to hear.

He became so out of balance and we knew something was terribly wrong. So Daniel, our son, took him to the emergency room at Holston Valley Hospital in Kingsport, Tenn., on Oct. 20 and they did tests on him quickly and found he had a tumor in his brain. It was large and “very bad”, the doctor told us. He started taking radiation and chemo treatment, 30 radiation and 42 chemo treatments.

It only got worse, and he started having seizures and we took him to the hospital emergency room. They confi rmed it and kept him four nights with treatments and then sent him to Letcher Manor Nursing Home for therapy. Only he was too weak to do therapy and he developed pneumonia and they took him back to the hospital and put a feeding tube through his nose to his stomach for nourishment and fluids.

His throat was paralyzed and he just couldn’t swallow anything but he could say little things to us. He wanted to know why he was there in the hospital. I told him he was very sick and we had to put him in there so they could help him.

I asked him if he could sing to me and he did. He sang the little sweet song he would always sing to everybody while he was well, “You Are My Sunshine”, only he sang the last half of it, “Last night as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms, but when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken and I hung my head and cried.”

It went on for a little while over and over until his voice gave out. It was the sweetest thing I ever heard. So I just sat down by his bed and cried.

It was snowing really bad outside and the boys decided to bring me home. Our oldest son, Roger, and his wife said they would stay until Daniel and Randy got back at 12 o’clock. We left about 8:30, but before we did I went to tell him I was coming home because the roads were getting really bad. I just put my hands on his cheeks and kissed him on the forehead and I told him I loved him and that he was my “Sunshine” and I’d see him tomorrow. He opened his beautiful blue eyes and just looked at me. He was gone at 10:31 p.m.

My heart is so heavy and I feel as if he will come in the house again. I want to hear his voice, but the house is so empty and lonely now. I have to hold on though, and try to take it one day at a time. It’s so hard!

I’m so sorry to hear of so much sickness and deaths all around.

We lost another sweet friend, Cora Mae Halcomb. She was the wife of the late Nelson Halcomb. She was a member of our Four Square Church here on Linefork.

I want to thank my minister, Mary K. Bennett, for all her prayers and visits and the food she sent to us. She has the Son Shine Children’s Home and is one of the greatest persons I’ve ever met. She is so good and so caring to all the little ones she has raised and adopted. She has eight right now. They have a good mom and she takes great care of them. She is such a blessing in this county.

Also, Brother Charles Shepherd, I thank you so much for your part in this time of grief. You are a gift from heaven, and “a child of the King”. That song was so true.

Thanks so much to the ones who sang the beautiful songs and brought food.

The evening of the wake, my dear friend I met at the community center at the old Kingdom Come Elementary School, Willie Perry, sang three of my favorite songs, “I’d Like to Go Back”, “Go Rest High Upon the Mountain” and “Don’t Stand By My Bedside in the Morning”. Beautiful words of comfort.

Thanks to a wonderful lady, Gerri Rinehart, who goes to Four Square Church. She has a beautiful voice and she is a great asset to have at church. She and her husband are great to know.

Larry Roark sang so beautifully and played his guitar. He is the husband of my niece, Pamela Roark. They are members of Kingscreek Church. Larry is a wonderful friend at our center also. He comes and sings for us up there.

I just can’t say enough to the Veterans of Foreign Wars for the beautiful prayers and the ceremony to honor my husband who was a soldier in Japan just after the war ended, as a military policeman. He was in there during the cleanup after the atomic bomb. He stood guard on the ship deck when Japan and the United States, etc., signed the peace treaty. It was a great experience for him to be able to do the jobs he had to do and it was a very dangerous place to be at that time. He had a great story to tell our sons as they grew up. They will always honor him for being a soldier for our country.

Claude had his 84th birthday on Nov. 17. He was born in 1928 to Charlie Ingram and Josephine Cornett Ingram, number three in a family of 10 children. He had a hard life growing up, helping his family and going to work at a very young age, 12 years old, working in the dog woods helping jack props for the Benham & Lynch Coal Co. He also worked in the fields hoeing corn for people for a quarter a day to buy his shoes for wintertime.

I met him for the first time at a friend’s birthday party. She was my best friend, Sallie Turner, and it was her 16th birthday. Claude was there with his best friend, Elmo Huff, Sallie’s boyfriend. We played a game called Pleased or Displeased and Elmo was very bad displeased. They asked what would please him most. He said, “To see Claude kiss Bonnie.” That’s how we met and it was really a great love story from then on.

We were married on July 6, 1950 and to us were born five wonderful sons. We were together 62½ years of marriage.

I surprised him with a big birthday party at our community center Nov. 17. We had all our sons and grandchildren except one grandson, Dustin Lee Ingram. He couldn’t make it from Springfield, Ill. There were close to 80 people to come and it was a great evening. Claude was very weak, but he had a good evening, enjoying seeing all his friends and family.

So we had a good life together, even though it was tough times along the way. He was a coal miner for 32 years with the United Mine Workers coal companies, Jewell Ridge, Peabody Coal in Illinois, Beth-Elkhorn Coal Co. and U.S. Steel Coal Co. at Cumberland. He also had small truck mines himself and worked construction jobs in Ohio on the highway and Indiana at a construction job.

He retired in 1983 from the U.S. Steel Coal Co. in Cumberland because of back injury. He made many good friends while working and some not so good, only he tried to be a leader.

He loved to go fishing at the lakes, and also at Linefork Creek. He was lucky most all the time, catching a good mess of fish. He made two trips to Canada to fish and took our son Daniel one year. They went with a group of other men, my brother Emory Cornett and his friends in Indiana, and also Raymond Disney, who left us several years ago with cancer. They really enjoyed that trip and caught so many big fish. They were proud of that week together in a log cabin by the lake. It was too cold to bathe in the lake.

Claude really loved the outdoor life. When he and I got married, he took me fishing close by where we lived in a little two-room shack. I caught a catfish and was trying to get it off the hook and it bit my finger and scared me so bad I threw it away over in a big field. He laughed at me and said, “Didn’t you know they could bite?” I didn’t know they had teeth.

That first little two-room shack had been an outside kitchen for the Wesley Cornett family. We were so happy and I fixed it up cute. It had a coal and wood cookstove and a hand pump to pump water into a big one bowl sink. We had a small table my mom gave us and we used dynamite boxes of wood for chairs in the little kitchen and made a bedroom out of the little dining room. I made a dresser out of the dynamite boxes also, and made curtains to go over the boxes and had a big round mirror Mom gave me. Our clothes hung on the wall on big nails for the hangers. It was just so good to be able to be at our own place. It was just right for us.

Love between two people like ours was not of worldly affairs, it was just for us to be able to be together and learn how to survive in this world. We really didn’t look at not having a car to drive or a fine home. We wanted to always be together and we made it that way. We raised a garden every year and I canned and put away all I could and he was there to help me when he didn’t have to work in the truck mines at that time. Our families were always there to help us if we needed them.

Oh! I could write a book on all the 62½ years we lived together, but I’ll save that for later.

Thanks so much to Letcher Funeral Home and all the others that helped.

I love all so deeply.

Redallas Cornett died last week and her funeral was held at Letcher Funeral Home. She was 93 years old. Her dad was Jimmy Cornett, who was my mother Mary’s uncle, and her mother was Frankie Cornett. She had several brothers and sisters, Chester, Major, James or ‘Jim’, and her sisters were Susanna Cornett, Glonny, and others I can’t remember. She lived in the old homeplace of her dad and mom’s on Big Branch at Skyline. Her mother used to go to people’s homes as a midwife. She was very good at her work.

She stayed with my family as a hired helper when my mother was waiting for my brother Arlie Elmon Cornett’s birth. He was born in 1936 at Blair. I was only 7 years old. Redallas was a good and kind person. I am so sorry to hear of her death. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to her family members. I didn’t get the news in time to go to the funeral. I am so sorry, but just know I love all of the members dearly.

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