Last week’s Fayette Faces told of Jeanne Lawler Hohlt’s school days, up to and including graduation from Vandalia High School with the class of ’47.
She was the middle child in a family of seven children: Connie Wilk of Florida, now deceased; Bob Lawler of Northern Illinois-deceased; Deloris L. Peckron of Vandalia; Jeanne Hohlt of Vandalia; Dick Lawler of Vandalia-deceased; Larry (wife, Shelby) Lawler of Decatur; Jerry (wife, Pat) Lawler; and a sister-in-law, Norma Lawler Cunningham of Vandalia.
A Brother’s Precious Gift
The economy was not good then, and with a family of seven children, there was not enough money for “extras,” so when Vandalia was going to have a grade school band, “I knew that we couldn’t afford to buy an instrument,” Jeanne said.
“My brother, Bob, was working for Burtschi Sand & Gravel at the age of 18,” she said. “He found out that Vandalia was getting its first band, and he paid 50 cents a week to Force Music Co. to buy a clarinet for his little sister.” He had an opportunity to buy one for much less later, so he also bought that one for Jeanne.
And on to the Vandalia High School Band
“The band never had uniforms,” Jeanne said, “Then, Dr. Mark Greer and Mr. Dan Burtschi bought and donated the first (ones) for the high school band.”
She recalled the uniforms were black and trimmed in red and white.
Her brother Bob’s sacrificial purchases were well-justified, as Jeanne played the clarinet in the Vandalia School Band for eight years.
High School Graduation & Major Changes
“I went to work for Ed Wilson, who managed the Citizens Building & Loans Association, while I was still in high school, and also did abstracting and wrote home insurance policies,” she said.
Jeanne married Fred M. Hohlt of Farina on May 14, 1950. “Then I changed occupations and went to work in the office of the doctors Mark and Miller Greer, until the birth of our first son, Michael Hohlt, on May1, 1954.
“Mike” Hohlt died when he fell from a sightseeing area in the mountains of Oregon.
“Two more sons, Greg and Eric, have blessed us,” she said. “Both sons, Eric and Greg, and daughter Krystal, live in or near Vandalia. ”
She also has stepchildren: K.T. and wife Michelle Taylor of Herrin; Brett and wife Mindy Taylor of Tampa, Fla.; and Brianne and husband Jason Garner of Rome, N.Y.
Jeanne said that she also has two grandsons: Luke and wife Megan of Greenville; Joseph Bone of Mulberry Grove; and and six great-grandchildren: Zoe and Ally Taylor, Natalie Garner, and Kynley, Maybry and Sylvia Hohlt.
Fred & Jeanne’s Chosen Work
Fred and Jeanne became the owners of Hohlt Funeral Home and lived there until Fred’s death from a heart attack in 1980. The funeral home was then sold to Tom and Sid File.
And Through the Years …
… Jeanne has been busy.
“I am a lifetime member of St. James Lutheran Church in Vandalia, and I continue to sing in the choir. I have been a member of Beta Sigma Phi since 1948.”
She is also a member of the WELCA-Women of the Evangelical Church in America.
She worked for Dr. Matthew Newman of St. Louis, an orthopedic surgeon, who saw his patients in the office of Dr. Kevin Childers in Vandalia.
Jeanne worked in Vandalia, Centralia and Mt. Vernon, and once in a while, filled in at Hillsboro and Salem, retiring in 1972.
But she was not really retired – she became a Mary Kay Cosmetics consultant in 1982 and “still continue this fun career,” she said.
Many will also remember hearing Jeanne’s lovely voice as she sang for services, and it can still be heard in her church choir.
She has fond and happy memories of her classmates of ’47 and still stays in touch with many of them, as she is the unofficial secretary and thus the person with “the list.”