Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Paul Franklin & Agnes Celeste (Wurm) Dick

Agnes Celeste Wurm, daughter of Matthias Nathan and Martha Christine (Falter) Wurm, was born 4 March 1899 at St. Stephen, Seneca County, Ohio and died 27 May 1935.  She married Paul Franklin Dick 14 Nov 1922 at St. Stephen Catholic Church in St. Stephen, Seneca County, Ohio.  He was born 12 April 1898 at Canton, Ohio to Frank and Rosa (Durnwald) Dick and died 24 July 1980 at Toledo, Ohio.  Paul and Agnes are buried in St. Bernards Catholic Cemetery at New Washington, Crawford County, Ohio.  Following Agnes' death, she and Paul's children were placed in St. Anthony's Orphanage in Toledo, Ohio.  Although they were adopted by different families, the children remained in touch throughout their adult lives.

Graves of Paul F. Dick & Agnes C. (Wurm) Dick - St. Bernards Catholic Cemetery, New Washington, Crawford County, Ohio

Paul Franklin and Agnes Celeste (Wurm) Dick had seven children:
1 - Martha Rosemary Dick (1923-1992)
2 - Joseph Paul Dick was born 6 Oct 1924 at New Washington, Crawford County, Ohio and died 6 June 1931 at New Washington.  He is buried in St. Bernards Catholic Cemetery at New Washington, Ohio.
3 - Dorothy Rita Dick (1926-)
4 - Eugene Matthias Dick (1927-)
5 - Vincent Edward Dick (1928-1994)
6 - Victor Alphonse Dick (1930-2005)
7 - Franklin James Dick was born 31 Oct 1931 at New Washington, Crawford County, Ohio and died 19 Feb 1932.  He is buried in St. Bernards Catholic Cemetery at New Washington, Ohio.

Graves of Joseph P. Dick and Franklin J. Dick - St. Bernards Catholic Cemetery, New Washington, Crawford County, Ohio

Dick Children one year before going to the orphanage, left to right: Vincent, Eugene, Martha, Dorothy and Victor

A HOLIDAY REUNION: Orphans Beat the OddsNew Washington Herald, December 12, 1991, page 11

It was immediately after The Great Depression, in a small town southeast of Toledo known as New Washington, the year 1934. They had lost two brothers and their mother had died the year before. After an attempt to raise the children with the help of a housekeeper, their father surrendered them to St. Anthony’s Orphanage in Toledo.

The five brothers and sisters, ages 3 to 11, were taken to St. Anthony’s, carrying a few cherished belonging, some clothes donated by relatives and friends and the hope of someday being adopted by loving foster parents.

No, it is nor an F.Scott Fitzgerald novel or the remake of Oliver. It is the true story of five brothers and sisters who reunited again this holiday season to relive their childhood years and celebrate the successful lives they found as adults.

The Dick family, Martha (Brown), Dorothy (Opre), Eugene, Vincent and Victor, reunited at the North End Legion Hall to renew their bonds and celebrate the holiday with over 50 family members.
“We could keep track of where each other was through Catholic Charities,” says Martha, the oldest of the five who says she regularly checked with Catholic Charities to see where the other children were living. “We wrote letters, called each other and visited by bus as often as we could in order to stay together,” she recalls.

Life at St. Anthony’s, located at that time on Cherry Street, now the site of St. Vincent Medical Center, was filled with discipline and friendship, under the guidance of the Catholic Church by the Grey Nuns of Montreal and Catholic Diocesan priests. The children were schooled at the orphanage as well, learning basic studies including reading, writing, arithmetic, health and religion.

“Everyone shared in the chores, including making our beds, general housekeeping, laundry and helping with meals,” Vincent remembers. “Our classes were in the same building, with about 25 to 30 children in each class.”

“We were visited by Norbert Mahoney, who befriended the family and would come on Sundays to see how we were doing,” Dorothy recalls. “He would take us for drives and was like a daddy to us.”
They were given social opportunities. Father Michael J. Doyle became a father figure to all the orphans and was assisted by Father Clarence Yeager and Father Jerome Schmidt. “They kept the youth activities programs going, like taking us to the Catholic Club and seeing that we went to Camp Lady of the Lake during the summer months,” Vincent adds.

All five children eventually left St. Anthony’s – either to be placed with families permanently or to live in temporary foster homes until they were old enough to venture out on their own.

“Vincent was the first to leave the orphanage,” Martha says, “and Dorothy the last. Some of us found good homes and some of us managed to make it on our own.”

Vincent was welcomed by the George Knight family in Pemberville, Victor was lovingly raised by the Alfred “Bud” Smiths in New Riegel and Martha found a home with the Lester Christian family on Toledo’s east side. Eugene and Dorothy, on the other hand, were placed in different foster homes until they were 18 – when they went out on their own.

“I remember that foggy August morning in 1941 when I was taken out to go live with the Smiths,” says a teary-eyed Victor, the youngest. “I looked up and saw my sister Dorothy and her friend waving good-bye from the upper window.”

“My father took me out saying that he found a place for me,” Eugene recalls. “When that didn’t happen, Catholic Charities stepped in and placed me in a couple of different homes over the next several years.”

Today, these five brothers and sisters take great pride in having beat the odds to create lives for themselves and their families of their own.

They entered adulthood drug-free, with no criminal record and with high school diplomas in hand. And all five enjoy success in marriage, raising children and numerous grandchildren and creating productive careers in their chosen professions.

“We all kept faith in the Lord,” Eugene says about their childhood years. “And that kept us going all along.”  “We didn’t think we were anything back then,” says Dorothy. “But now we know we are.”

Their Separate Paths

Martha’s Story – Martha stayed at the orphanage until she was fourteen years old, when she was placed with the Lester Christian family in East Toledo. She remained there through high school and then moved to the dormitory at St. Vincent School of Nursing when she began nursing studies. Following graduation, she worked at St. Vincent’s and lived with the Christians until she married in 1946. Ten years later, she moved to California with her husband, Jim, now deceased, and four children. She is a retired nurse with one grandchild and seven step-grandchildren. She now resides in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband, Tom.

Dorothy’s Story – Being considered “hard to adopt” because she was wheelchair bound with St. Vitus disease, Dorothy remained at St. Anthony’s until she was a teenager. She went to live with her mother’s sister at the age of 15. She stayed there two years before joining her sister Martha at the Christian’s home, where she worked during the day and attended night school. At age 22, she moved to the Knight’s home with brother Vincent where she remained until age 24. After her husband, John, finished school, they moved frequently to accommodate his career, living in Las Cruces, Mexico and Deer Park, Texas, among other places. Married 41 years, Dorothy and John now reside in Etoile, Texas and enjoy retirement visiting their four children and six grandchildren.

Eugene’s Story – Eugene, the oldest boy, left the orphanage when he was in the 7th grade to go to Bellevue. He stayed with three different families that year. He was then placed in a home in Norwalk with the Barron family for the next four years. During the next ten years he spent time with the Brashear and Janotta families and two years in the army. He and his wife, Barbara, have five children, two grandchildren and five step-grandchildren. He is not retired from Mat Manufacturing and construction welding. He now resides in Norwalk.

Vincent’s Story – Vincent left St. Anthony’s at age 11 to live on the farm with the George Knight family in Pemberville, Ohio. The family, including their daughter Rita, moved to Toledo when George Knight took ill. Following two years of service in the U.S. Army including a stay in Korea, he returned to Toledo to work as a baker and subsequently a typesetter. Vincent and his wife of nearly 38 years, Bernie, have six children and six grandchildren. He now enjoys retirement following 40 years as a compositor with Cosco Graphics in Toledo.

Victor’s Story – Chosen by his foster parents, the Alfred Smith family of New Riegel, Victor went to live with them at the age of 11. He worked on the farm and was raised as a member of the family along with their own children. They moved to Alveda several years later where he continued to reside. Following service in the U.S. Army, he returned to the Smith’s home in Alveda. He and his wife of 35 years, Elsie, currently reside in rural Fremont and have two children, and one grandchild. He is employed as a commercial printer at Lesher Printers in Fremont.

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