Siblings Reunited After 74 Years

By: Alicia Myers Email
By: Alicia Myers Email

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

In 1937, six brothers and sisters lived inside a home in Abilene. After family deaths, they were split up, and did not see each other again, until 74 years later.

In December 1936, the Roof children lost their maternal grandfather. Less than one month later, their mother died.

The day the Roof children's mother was buried, their father passed away. The day he was buried, their maternal grandmother died.

Then, Roof kids lost four family members within a few weeks to Influenza.

"All four of them left, and left all of us six kids without any place to go," said Phyllis Holmberg, third oldest.

"Nobody wanted all of us, so we just went to different families," said Wanda Leonhard, fifth oldest.

All the siblings had left were a few photos that were taken on their last day together as a family.

"There are no smiles on any of our faces. I think we're all about ready to cry, because we lost our parents, and then we were going to go six different directions," said Eugene Wilson, fourth oldest.

After 74 years, only a handful of meetings took place between five of the six siblings. Within the past few months, a tip from Ancestry.com helped connect the final dots.

Phyllis and Eugene were first to be reunited.

"We just hugged and cried. They drove up their car, and I knew it was him, so I ran down there, and he comes and we hugged each other and cried," said Eugene.

Wanda and Patty were then found. The siblings then discovered the oldest and youngest, Wayne and Mary Lou, had already passed away.

For the first time since that final photo was taken, the remaining four Roof children were finally back together again, sharing stories of 74 years gone by. Now, they wonder what life would have been like if they would have spent it together as a family.

"It would have been interesting. But, of course, it wasn't meant to be," said Phyllis.

The siblings hope their next reunion is less than 74 years away.


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