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Wilma Jean (Best) Titus
July 19, 1922 ~ November 2, 2023 (age 101) 101 Years Old
6 Trees, Flowers, or Condolences have been shared with support of Wilma's family - View on Tribute Wall
Stafford County was steaming hot on July 19, 1922 when Wilma Jean was born at home to parents Sylvia Olive (Milhon) and Clarence Best.
Wilma, who went by Jean, was the second and only girl of three children born into the family, joining brother Junior, more than a year older, and Robert, 8 years younger. Their father had served in the dirigible corps of the military in WWI and had returned to farm. The Best family moved from Stafford to Pawnee County where Jean attended Garfield Schools, and later to Edwards County where she was a student at Lewis.
Jean was a tomboy who could be found astride a horse or assisting Junior in his constant quest to get his old car into shape. She was a child of the Dirty Thirties, but despite the devastation of that era, Jean was always a staunch defender of Kansas. “If people don’t like it here, it just makes more room for the rest of us.”
As newlyweds, Wilma Jean and her husband, Clarence Titus Jr. (Jim) moved to Buckner, Missouri where they strove to support their young family which had grown to five with the birth of three girls. Jim worked at the ammunition production plant until he received his draft notice to report for Army duty.
Jean moved, with their little girls, back to Lewis, Kansas to be close to her parents. While her husband was engaging the enemy in the Philippine jungles, Jean was combatting the challenges of raising three toddlers with limited resources, supporting the troops by making and sending warm socks and gift packages, sewing feed sack dresses for her girls, and going several months without knowing if her spouse was even alive. When asked about those times, Jean would say: “We were all in it together. We were doing without to support our country; we were all poor so we did what we could for one another; we raised our own food; we might not have had what we wanted, we had all we needed.”
After Jim’s discharge from military service, Jean partnered with him in a refrigeration repair business in Kinsley, a skill he had developed while repairing equipment on military ships. Their next move was to Wichita, Kansas, where Jim had employment with Coleman Company as a tool and die maker and Jean was a Girl Scout leader, a PTA member and the favorite room mother, based on her flavorful and richly decorated sugar cookies. They returned to Pawnee County and then Edwards County when Jim’s dad retired from farming in the early 1950s.
Jean was Jim’s partner in establishing an agricultural operation in South Brown Township. They were part of the Tractorcade to Washington, D. C. in 1979 when farmers across the USA united, driving their tractors and other equipment, to the capitol in peaceful, but powerful protest of unfair crop prices.
Creative by her nature, Jean enjoyed her family, art, playing the piano, sewing, herb gardening, floral design, home decorating and antiquing. She was employed by Ehlers Department Store for several years before joining the Home State Bank of Lewis where she worked as a teller until her retirement. Jean was also a member of the Lewis United Methodist Church. She lived at her rural home until a few days before her 100th birthday and was 101 years and 106 days old at her passing.
Loved ones who preceded her in death are her husband, her parents, her two brothers, a son-in-law, William L. Johnson, great grandson Kade Schnoebelen, and most friends.
Survivors include: daughters Patricia Johnson, Great Bend, Mary Lou Schnoebelen (Nick), Lewis, and Sharon Kay Gilbert (Tom), Clay Center; nine grandchildren; 18 great grands; and 14 great great grands.
Graveside services are November 17, 2:00 p.m., at Wayne Cemetery north of Lewis, followed by a gathering at the Community Hall in Lewis.
Memorials are suggested to the Lewis Volunteer Fire Department.