Archive for Wednesday, December 13, 2006

City loses ‘small, but mighty’ resident

December 13, 2006

When Frances Korb died last week at the age of 92, a wealth of knowledge about Tonganoxie's history went with her. Korb was the descendant of some of Tonganoxie's earliest settlers.

Her great-grandparents homesteaded south of Tonganoxie. Korb's ancestors were Quakers. Her father attended school in the Friends Academy, which in the late 1800s stood at the northwest corner of Fifth and Shawnee.

Korb married Ed Korb. The couple ran a milk route from their Reno home, and later moved to Tonganoxie where they ran an appliance business.

In her later years, Korb wrote about the history of Tonganoxie and Reno. Her family is giving a copy of her research to the Tonganoxie City Library. Korb also wrote about her family's history, as well as that of her late husband's.

Korb once said, "As I got older, history meant so much more to me than when I was a kid."

In the mid 1970s the Korbs sold their store and traveled throughout the United States as well as to other countries.

Throughout her life, Korb said, she made do with what she had. She recalled as a child wearing boots she made from old rubber tubing and binder twine. When younger, she raised chickens, helped her husband with the dairy and put away 500 to 600 cans of homegrown produce each year.

Korb said she loved doing the farm work.

"It didn't hurt me," Korb said several years ago, her eyes sparkling as she smiled. "I lived to be this long."

At Saturday's memorial service, members of Korb's family described her as "small but mighty."

Her daughter, Beverly Mallams, said her mother was a perfectionist. For instance, before auctioning household items, Korb scrubbed all of her late husband's tools that were to be included in the sale.

While family members took center stage in Korb's life, in her later years, she had another loyal companion -- her small gray poodle, Tootsie.

When Korb moved into Brandon Woods Retirement Community in Lawrence earlier this year, Tootsie went with her. Korb's grandson, Michael Pearce, said Tootsie stayed with Korb to the end, often curled up beside Korb in her bed.

Pearce said his grandmother decided she wanted to leave Tootsie to one of her nurses.

"Tootsie will be going back and forth to work with the nurse, so she'll be kind of a therapy dog," Pearce said. For some of the residents, Pearce said, Tootsie will be about the only visitor they have.

"They're at the situation in life where a dog curled up on their lap gives them more joy than we can comprehend," Pearce said. "The dog doesn't get uprooted -- and she gets to see so many people."

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