Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Henry Richard Emanuel Wessman: A Biography, Part 10

In World War I, Henry tried to join the army. He went running down to the recruiting station with his saber in hand. When they found out how old he was and the size of his family, they told him "Mr. Wessman, you take that saber back home and raise your family." Jean's first memory of her father Henry is that of being on his shoulders. They were watching the "Coming Home" parade for those that fought in World War I.

Henry had a hernia that bothered him for many years. He suffered from ulcers later on. His wife made him eggnog to take to work hoping that it would help in someway. When Henry got sick with ulcer complications the last time, he was living on 36th Street in Ogden. A couple of doctors were called for consultation. He had not been feeling well for a couple of days. It was decided to take him to the hospital. The condition was far too advanced to save him. It was very difficult for Jean to watch her husband suffer and she could not do anything to help him. She did not like him being in pain. He went to the hospital on a Sunday and died the following week on Sunday. It was basically ulcer complications that caused his death. He died of peritonitis.

Dick had been away from home a couple of years working and he had just got home right before his father died. Henry talked to Dick, Harry and his wife Jean at the hospital. He told Jean that he could not go through this illness again. He told them that they would have to pull together and scrape together a living. He knew that he was dying. He had been through something similar years earlier and he almost died then. He was 13 years old and had appendicitis. The operation was performed on the kitchen table. He developed peritonitis during this period.

After talking, the family members left the room for a short while. Joe Wessman was in Salt Lake and wanted to come and see his brother. However, he could not leave his business unattended. Therefore, Dick went to take care of the business so Joe could go. That was when Henry died. It was a painful death. There were no antibiotics or painkillers as they do now. It is very sad that he died at such a young age. He had great influence on all who knew him whether personally, professionally or even casually.

Elizabeth Hayward was at her daughter’s home helping out when the phone call came that Henry had died. She picked up the phone and said, "Yes...I am her mother...Thank you doctor...I am sorry." She then broke the news to the family members that were there. Not everyone was home. Jean started to cry. She of course had been up there earlier to see her beloved.

Ernie remembers the death coming as a surprise. Jean (the daughter) after hearing about the death went into the bathroom and cried. She does not remember much else about that day. There was silence around the house. The widow did very well coping with the death considering she had 14 children to care for. However, Jean was in tears most of the time. The kids took many by surprise. The kids did most of the housework as they did anyway after the death. The older kids went out to work to help. Henry left an insurance policy that was paid monthly that lasted about two years. That was very helpful to Jean.

Henry's funeral was big. Jean played some music at her husband’s funeral. She played the songs that he especially liked. Liebestraum was one song. One of his friends from the newspapers came and gave a good talk. Bishop James Harbertsen talked. He was impressed with the fact that Henry was a man who always liked his family. He would drive by the house many times and see him playing ball with his sons. Harry's father in law supplied a car from his construction company so the family could go in it. The funeral was in Ogden but the burial was in Salt Lake.

Some of his younger children have no or few memories of their father. The older children have more memories. The memories of the children in general were that he was handsome, young, active, loving, feisty, affectionate, fun, spry and a musician. He was very much adored. Henry was a good provider who was law abiding, righteous, and loved his family along with everyone in general.

***A special thank you to the children of Henry for their time to tell their memories and information.

by Toni Wyeth

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