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Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

Opal Gould: The final page has been turned

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

During my extension career, I had an opportunity to work with a large number of wonderful people. Opal Gould was among those I worked with during my early years in Vernon County. I am sure that she was not only recognized for her tenure of 4-H leadership, but also as an outstanding 4-H leader. She is an example of the many high quality 4-H leaders who have provided leadership to 4-H and have had a major influence on others as a leader.

Recently, the last page was turned for Opal in this life experience, soon after her 94th birthday. This is what we consider a long life and during that time, she made the most of life. She was an inspiration for many who knew her, a person that made a major impact. There have been many pages in her life and her life speaks volumes for her.

Opal was a role model, not only for children and youth, but also for other adults. One of the figures that we need in society is good role models.

I admit that there are many others who knew Opal far better than I ever did; still, I had the privilege to have known her for all these years. Over a period of time, many of the memories fade away that a person wishes could be remembered.

I remember her as being a leader of the Walker 4-H Club. One of the ways that I did leadership development was to have "kitchen talks," where I met with the leaders and discussed information that would be helpful to them as leaders. I remember being at her house for at least one of those "kitchen talks."

When I first came to the county, we had an active 4-H Junior Leaders organization with officers that met monthly. She helped with that group and provided leadership at the county level in other ways.

In those days, each club had a club tour during which the club members and families visited the project in each member's home. This helped them and encouraged the members to get ready for the fair. When I attended these tours, I took pictures of the members and the projects.

The following winter, the slides were shown at a club meeting.

This was popular during that period of time. Jenise Burch mentioned the other day, that she remembered me being at the Gould's taking pictures during a tour.

There are those who are aware that Opal was a 4-H project leader in foods and other projects as well as being a club leader, which was called a community club leader when she led a club.

Several people have mentioned that she judged exhibits. For a number of years, we had judges from Vernon County to judge exhibits in Cedar County and judges from that county to judge exhibits in Vernon County. Opal could be counted on when asked to help the program in this way.

Opal continued supporting 4-H even when she moved from this county to live with her daughter for the past 10 years by providing financial support. Each year, she has been listed as a donor for the Missouri 4-H Foundation. This demonstrated that she felt that 4-H is an important program. Investing in the Missouri 4-H Foundation is a good way to support 4-H in Missouri.

She has been recognized by many former students and parents as a great teacher, which was her career. One parent told me that two of her children had Opal as a teacher. Her comment was that she was a "wonderful, wonderful teacher." Others have said that they appreciated her as their teacher.

Those who worked with her in the United Methodist Church have described her as a faithful servant.

She was active in many aspects of the church, including helping with the United Methodist Women's rummage sale each year. She was also active in other ways in the community, including being a member of the Retired Teachers.

Nevada and this area meant a lot to her. Even though she moved from this community, she still kept an interest in this area. She was a regular reader of the Nevada Daily Mail. When she no longer could see to read it, she had someone else read it to her.

It has been my honor that she regularly sent us notes and cards since she moved away from Nevada.

You may know a person well, but by attending a memorial service, you learn even more about the life of that person. One of the things that happens when attending a memorial is that information is also gained from the family and others.

Recently, Neoma Foreman mentioned that they were having a shower for Opal's 94th birthday and requested cards be sent to her. Her family greatly appreciated what Neoma had done in honor of Opal. Though, I had her address, I took it out of the paper. Still, it was a few days before I got it sent -- past her birthday. I do not think it got there before she left this life. Unfortunately, one more name comes off of our Christmas card list. This seems to happen more all of the time.

If there is a good time for a burial, it was last Saturday at Moore Cemetery. It was a pretty day, the birds were singing and it was peaceful. A great way of bringing closure to a life that has touched many people.

Deepest sympathy is expressed to the family.

Now, with the last page having been turned, we say goodbye to Opal, until we meet again.

Leonard Ernsbarger
Leonard At Large