Mary Thompson and Ione Rich graduated in 1937 from the L.D.S. (Latter-day Saints) Hospital Nursing School in Salt Lake City, Utah along with 30 classmates. It’s through Mary that I came to own a soft leather-bound book containing portraits of these graduates. Side note: Is it just me or does Mary look a lot like the actor Sarah Paulson?
A little over a year after graduation Mary wed Anton Sibilsky, a physician. The two lived the majority of their lives in Battle Creek, Michigan. Mary and Anton had no children. When Mary died in 2008, a widow of ten years, many of the couples’ personal belongings ended up in the possession of a family friend who dumped some of the boxes containing letters and photos at an antique shop. Depressing…I know.
Except for Ione Rich, I tracked down the final resting places for all of the graduates and added each person’s photo to their Find a Grave memorial. Click here if you’d like to view the memorials.
I discovered that Ione died, aged 89, on November 4, 2005, in La Crescenta, California but couldn’t find a burial or cremation record. Since I wasn’t able to honor her with a Find a Grave memorial, I decided I’d write a bit more about her here.
Ione also picked a doctor as her beau, Clyde Washburn, and the couple tied the knot in 1938. Thanks to Ione’s grandaughter-in-law, Debra Washburn, we get access to a rare gem in genealogy, a narrative including details of Ione’s life, much of which comes from Ione herself. I’m sharing it here as it’s posted on ancestry by Debra. I added notes in red where I felt the timeline could use clarifications and linked each person to their Find a Grave memorial when possible.
Ione and Clyde first met in 1929, when Clyde was a student at Provo High School, and Ione a junior high school student. A friend of Ione, Anita Smoot, invited some of her junior high classmates and some Provo High School boys to a party at her home. (The author must be referencing middle school when they use the term ‘junior high’ as Ione and Anita were 13 in 1929.)
This is where Ione first saw Clyde. In her words, “I was enamored with Clyde’s brooding good looks at the time, but didn’t see him again until Barr (Barr Washburn, Clyde’s older brother) invited me to a dance at the BYU three or four years later. (Ione was a freshman at Brigham Young University in 1934.) Barr was a wonderful dancer, and we went dancing two or three times after that. At one of the dances, we traded dances with Clyde and his girlfriend. I found Barr’s younger brother to be a great dancer as well.” Shortly after that Clyde and Ione began dating.
Clyde had completed three years pre-med at Brigham Young University, finishing in June 1934. That fall, Clyde enrolled in medical school at the University of Utah. Ione was attending nurses training at the L.D.S. School of Nursing in Salt Lake City. Completing his U of U classwork, Clyde transferred to the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago and graduated in June 1938. He and Ione continued to date as occasion allowed. Following graduation, Clyde began a two-year internship at the L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, and he and Ione married a few months later on August 27, 1938. Ione worked as a hostess on United Airlines until it was time to resign and await the birth of their first child. Judith was born on October 26, 1939. Following Judith’s birth, Ione worked as a registered nurse until Clyde finished his internship at the hospital.
In the summer of 1940, Clyde established a medical practice in Orem, Utah. The office and living quarters were on the second floor of a building owned by his brother, Verd. Verd’s automobile repair business occupied the lower floor. Clyde’s business was mostly obstetrics, general practice, and some surgery. Ione served as his office nurse, anesthetist, laundress, bookkeeper, and receptionist. Ione reports that one of Clyde’s first patients was an elderly farmer and his wife. “Clyde gave the woman a complete and thorough physical exam; did about $200 worth of laboratory tests on her, and when he was through, the old farmer rolled a silver dollar across the desk and said, ‘Here you go Doc, I always like to see a young doctor get a good start!’”
Clyde did many home deliveries and Ione accompanied him as the anesthetist. If the call came in the middle of the night, and no baby sitter could be secured, Judy was wrapped in a blanket and put to sleep in the back seat of the car. As Ione describes, “Away we’d go out into the night to help another farm woman bring another baby into the world.”
In 1941, the depression was limiting the income Clyde could generate in Utah, so at the invitation of John B. James, Clyde’s roommate at Northwestern University, Clyde, Ione, and Judith, moved to El Monte, California to join Dr. James as a partner in his medical practice. (Dr. James recently disclosed to Ione, that he wanted Clyde as a partner, “not only because they had been friends in medical school, but because Clyde was an excellent diagnostician and a skillful surgeon.”)
In December 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed and war with Japan was imminent. Clyde had a thriving medical practice in El Monte. Jill, their second daughter, was born on November 11, 1942.
A month after Jill’s birth, Clyde joined the United States Air Force as a flight surgeon. He was stationed in Northern California for a few short months, then transferred to Florida. Feeling the loneliness, and expecting another child, Ione and the two girls moved to Provo to be close to family. Their first son, Michael, was born in Provo on October 2, 1943.
A few months following Michael’s birth, Clyde’s mother, Luella, helped Ione pack two-month-old Michael, year-old Jill, and four-year-old Judith in their 1942 Dodge. Ione remembers, “The car bulging with diapers, bottles, snowsuits, baby food, dolls, and playthings, we drove from Provo to Florida in the middle of the winter. What would I have done without [Luella’s] help! She was truly a mother, a sister, and a friend to me in the best sense. (Luella was a midwife, teacher, and was Utah’s Mother of the Year in 1953.) I remember her with lots of love and gratitude for the remarkable woman she was.” Ione and the children joined Clyde in Florida in December 1943. The trip was a real adventure.
Clyde was eventually transferred to the China-India-Burma war theater where he served until the war ended in 1945. The war had left its mark on Clyde. He was never to be the same. He returned to California and his medical practice, and in 1948, Clyde and Ione divorced. Clyde remarried and divorced again. He unfortunately continued to decline and died January 13, 1957.
As lucky as I am to have found this account of Ione’s life I still can’t help but wish I knew even more. What can I say, I’m a greedy genealogist. Ione was in her early 30s when she and Clyde divorced and it seems that she never remarried. Did she have any further love interests? Or did she pour every ounce of her time and energy into raising her children and working as a nurse for the Pasadena City Schools? I suppose I need to be thankful I was able to learn as much as I did…for now.