to Thelma Brobst Biggin
Jan. 27, 1998 in Cortland, Ohio
Good afternoon. I'm Bill Brobst, nephew of Thelma. Thank you all for being
with us today.
Thelma Cecelia Brobst Biggin was a gentlewoman. Gentle, warm, and just plain
fun to be around. Born in Defiance County in western Ohio in 1908, Aunt Thelma
came east to Trumbull County with the growing Brobst family of Ella Bensing and
For nearly 90 years, Thelma demonstrated so much love and kindness. I'd like
to tell you of just a few examples. While Aunt Thelma and Uncle Rolland had no
children, Thelma helped raise hundreds of kids through her elementary school
teaching for more than 35 years. And this gentlewoman and Uncle Rol' opened
their hearts and home to so many more friends and relatives. Brothers, sisters,
in-laws, nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews, and especially her
own mother who Thelma took such good care of for more than 10 years in the
house on High Street.
My wife Linda, our two kids and I were just a few of the recipients of
Thelma's warmth and hospitality when we visited her around Easter time for
several years. We four were treated royally with the required rolled oats and a
hearty breakfast. Later it was off to dinner that she organized at Baconsburg
or the Country Buffet. Then back to her place for a choice of pie, before a
full evening of the card game Spades was played with eight, 12, or more
But it wasn't just cards Thelma served up! It was pop, fudge, caramel
corn-all in the same day, mind you. It was way too much. It was like Thelma had
made it her personal responsibility to assist us in maintaining that very
healthy Brobst profile. A profile many of us didn't need any help with!
All of those times were so much fun! We wished they would never end. But
they always ended with a traditional parting kiss for and from Thelma and any
other aunts in attendance. And pity the poor person who refused to kiss Thelma
goodbye. I can't believe anyone would refuse such a request! But I have it on
good authority that one great nephew-who will remain nameless to protect the
guilty-attempted just a few years ago to evade Thelma's hug and kiss. However,
he just wasn't fast enough! Imagine his surprise as his "80
something" great aunt wrestled this under 10 year old to her living room
floor, pinned him to the carpet, and kissed him real gooood!
I could go on a long time with anecdotes such as these. Instead, I'd like to
relate to you a few from Kevin Mazey and Kay Morton, Thelma's nephew and niece,
that further illustrate why Thelma was such an unforgettable friend, sister and
Kevin remembers Aunt Thelma as a master card player. She was right in there
when it was the gals versus the guys on Saturday nights or even sometimes
during the week. This battle of the sexes provided humor with back-and-forth
teasing from Thelma and others. Thelma would often lead the charge near the end
of the game of Spades by bidding Nullo or nothing. That was a defensive move to
prevent the men from winning by Thelma vowing not to take any tricks and
gaining enough points to win in the process. More often than not, Thelma would
make her Nullo, win the game and, better yet, leave the men dumbfounded.
All that could be heard was a modest sly laugh from you know who.
Kay Morton also tells of not only Thelma's sense of humor but also all the
food that she lovingly made. In my earliest memories, Kay recalls, Thelma and
Rolland arrived on Christmas Day (always late!). Thelma was carrying several
pies into the kitchen on a large wooden cutting board. Or our summer drives to
Cortland, stopping to buy strawberries and then being treated to homemade
biscuits by Thelma. It was a WHOLE meal! Or in the winter, Kay remembers, our
arrival being greeted by the aroma of warm bread fresh out of the oven. She
always gave me the coveted heel, slathered with real butter. Aunt Thelma
was there for all my grade school and high school programs, and the miles and
hours of driving me back to Mt. Sinai Hospital after a weekend of cooking my
favorite foods including the 10-inch custard pie awaiting my arrival on Friday
night! And I'm sure, Kay recalls, she did my laundry, too. Who could forget the
thousands of popcorn balls we made over the years in her basement? She always
loved to tell about Denny being there and how outrageous he was! When Kay's own
boys were babies, there she was
Aunt Thelma's sense of humor was even to the end, a constant. She joked with
Kay on the phone in the morning on the very day she died. In Kay's adult years,
their relationship evolved into something very, very special. She was like a
mother to me and now I realize that was her extraordinary gift, Kay emphasized.
She had no children of her own, but she was a mother to us all.
This gentlewoman has left us much to admire, much to imitate, much to
remember. We will miss her because she made our world and the world of many
others a better place. Just as her brothers and sisters, she will always be
with us urging us to do our best, to set an outstanding example, and to do unto
others as we would have them do unto us.
Finally, if you look above Thelma's desk-in her living room where she
wrestled her great nephew to the carpet-you will see a little plaque with the
following words from Saint Paul: "There are three things that last: faith,
hope and love. And the greatest of these is love."
Thelma gave us her love in so many ways. We love you Aunt Thelma. And we
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by Kay Starr Schaney