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LaMate Faye Bullwinkle, 1921-2011

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 in Mom

My family doesn’t seem to be one that does things the normal way. We had no funeral for Daddy, nor did we place an obituary in the local paper. (Mom was afraid of being robbed as other recent widows had been.) We’re not having a real funeral for Mom either. And I’m writing her obituary only for this space.

LaMata Faye Bullwinkle, née Anderson, dies at age 89

LaMata Bullwinkle passed away January 24 at Have Homes in Maple Plain, Minn., from coronary heart disease.

LaMata was born in Berwick, Ill., to Eva Faye and Emil Anderson. Her brother, Wyatt, preceded her in death. She graduated from Roseville High School, Roseville, Ill., and was employed at the lumber yard, telephone company, and Methodist Church at various times. She moved to Maple Plain, Minn., in 1973. After retirement she resided in St. Petersburg, Fla.; McAllen, Texas; Mission, Texas; and then returned to Maple Plain to be near family after the death of her husband, David Albert Bullwinkle.

She is survived by her children, Sharon Dixson of Griggsville, Ill.; Larry Bullwinkle of Ocala, Fla.; Beverly Nohr or Glencoe, Minn.; and Kristeen Bullwinkle, of Minneapolis, Minn. She is also survived by six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.

The more interesting stuff

I know only a couple of stories from her childhood. Her first memory was of being rocked while she was sick with whopping cough, I think. When she was a toddler her parents used to ask her to say what she was and she’d screw up her face like she was working really hard and shout “I’m a svede!” And she couldn’t say the words “corner” or “moccasin” for a long time.

As a child she worried at night about the possibility of her mother dying. She was surprised to learn that I never worried about that. She did lose her mother the summer she graduated from high school in 1939. She didn’t want to visit her mother in the hospital because she was afraid of remembering her that way. She was finally convinced to go, but was too late. She missed her mother terribly and I’m sorry I never got to meet her. I think she taught Mom some good lessons.

She was close to her cousins and used to spend time during the summer with them at Aunt Ivy’s. Ila and Una, I think were the names of two of them. And their Grandpa Hall used to hide bananas for them to find. They kids played and gossiped and had a great time together.

She loved to make mud pies. She made the best mud pies in the world, I think, and used suds from the wash to imitate meringue. Sometimes she added rose petals to the top. She forever lamented the fact that once cars with their fat tires and gravel for the roads came along, you didn’t get the proper dirt for making a proper mud pie. I remember her making Daddy stop the car once on a road trip because she thought she saw the right kind of dirt, but, alas, it was sub-standard.

LaMata and Wyatt

She was very close to Wyatt, her brother, even though he would sometimes get her in a corner and punch at her. She never did anything in return because she didn’t want to hurt him. They double dated or went out with the same crowd to dances. When he entered the service during WWII, she took the train with him and his new wife and baby, to Florida where he was stationed. She thought every girl should have an older brother.

She had several marriage proposals. I think even with her dementia, she remembered this. About a year ago she asked me how many times she had been married and scoffed when I told it had been only once. She laughed at the first poor guy. I have the necklace and earrings another beau gave to her. She lost a friend in WWII, but I don’t know if he ever spoke of marriage. Daddy never actually proposed. He just gave her a ring, told her it could mean whatever she wanted it to mean, and her future step-mother went ahead and planned their double wedding.

She didn’t marry until she was 32. Prior to that she remained at home and lived a very independent life with her father. After she’d return from a date, he’d ask her if she had swapped spit with the man. She had the kitchen remodeled and spent money on clothes. (This was always hard for me to believe because I almost never saw her spend money on herself.) She met Daddy at a roller rink. A friend pointed out David Bullwinkle and asked her if she wanted to meet him. She replied, “If I had a name like that, I’d change it.” But they married and she had an instant family with him and my sister and brother whose mother had died a couple of years prior.

The first couple of years of marriage were hard for Mom. I’m not sure she ever talked about her ambivalence with anyone but me. She was terrified of being seen as the evil stepmother. She was afraid she wouldn’t get pregnant. Then once she had Bev, she was afraid that she’d break her. She got past all of that, however. She eventually learned to give Bev a bath and only pushed her out of bed twice while nursing her.

Wedding day, June 14, 1953. A bird pooped on that hat.

I came along later in her life. I don’t think her father thought it was proper for her to get pregnant at 40. She was a bit more confident with me, but when I threw up all over myself, my crib, her, and her bed, she cried until Daddy came home from bowling.

That’s as far as I can go right now. I’m hoping Bev or others will correct me where I’ve made mistakes and let me know of facts or stories I should add.

One last thing about her name…

She was ahead of her time in making up her name. She was named after a friend of her parents, named Lumata. She was named after two aunts, Lu, and Mata or Mattie. Mom said that she changed the spelling to LaMata in grade school because she liked the way it looked. Mom would call herself MaLata Faye when she was upset with herself. Others called her LaM’ata with a short a sound or LaM’äta (LaMahta). Her mother called her Angel Face.

  1. Hi, Kristeen. I’m really sorry about your mom. She seems like a really amazing person, and I would have loved to have met her.
    Love,
    Rhiannon

  2. I love you, X-teen!

  3. Loved it Kris! We need to add more, and I need a copy, and I’d like to get an obit in our paper. Anyway, you should mention how one mud pie looked so pretty that she had to taste it, but it didn’t taste too good. And Jer loves the story about how she once stuck her cigerrete in a man’s face because she wanted to. And how once she was dancing in the kitchen and kicked the handle off of the stove. Megan and her always said “Bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck” And I love remembering when we were in the hospital in Denver and she looked horrible and the Dr. asks “How do you feel?” and she says “Foxy”. You just had to love that lady!

    Love you! -Shannon

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