This morning our Sweet Adeline “Grandma Addie” – a great big soul in tiny packaging – passed peacefully away from us and into the arms of those waiting on the other side of the veil. Just seven weeks ago we celebrated her 95th Birthday. It’s not too often that someone can enjoy having their Grandma in their lives for nearly 50 years. And I am one of those rare few. How lucky is that?
When you live 95 years, you get a little worn out and a lot tired. But, Addie still had her thousand watt smile, and she could still sing all the words to “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” (which she was crooning when we took this photo). 🙂
Today, I just feel so much peace and yes, JOY! Grandma’s been in a bit of a decline the past year – a big bright spirit like hers shouldn’t have to be stuck in a worn out body. She kept her sense of humor and boundless love for everyone to the very end. I know losing my sweet grandma is a very solemn occasion, and yet I just can’t help feeling like dancing and singing and celebrating – because I know that’s what she is doing right now. She is having the time of her life up there with all her friends and family that she’s been parted from for so long – numbering in the hundreds, or even thousands because she was such a VERY social butterfly, and including two adoring husbands. [Guess that’s getting sorted! hehe] .:D
Yep, heaven is a lot brighter and jolly today.It’s definitely going to be one big party now that Addie has arrived to tell her stories and jokes, play games with “The Gang” and make everyone laugh until their sides hurt [hmm.. do angels get side aches when they laugh?!]. Oh, What a BLESSING it has been to have Adeline in my life! What a tremendous heritage and legacy she has given to me. She has not only blessed everyone in our family, but every life that has touched hers. Once you met Adeline, you never forgot her. She set the bar for humanity high, and demonstrated the epitome of how to give unconditional love.
Adeline’s parents Gustav and Anna Kleven immigrated to the United States from Norway at the turn of the 20th Century as Mormon converts. They made their home in the downtown area of Salt Lake City.
Adeline Naomi Kleven was born on August 8, 1920 – the youngest of five children; (siblings Gus, Irene, Berger and Edna). Their family did well during the depression years because Gustav Kleven had a good job working in management at the luxurious Hotel Utah. Adeline often told stories about how her father made it a policy to never turn any of the transient men riding the trains near their home away. Adeline would make sandwiches and soup every day with her mother in an assembly line to give to the many poor who would knock at their back kitchen door. But, although Adeline had food, shelter and a comfortable life, she would be no stranger to tragedy and hardship, beginning at a very young life. At the age of ten Adeline’s mother Anna died. After burying his wife, Gustav buried himself in his work as a way to cope with his grief. Oldest brother Gus became a surrogate father to his siblings, especially his baby sister. Adeline adored her brother, and he spoiled her as best he could. Tragedy struck the family again when Gus was killed in a car accident driving homw one night from a dance at the popular Saltair Pavillion. Gustav remarried to a woman named Violet. Although Adeline was grateful for more attention and love from her step-mother, and was outgoing and positive, I am sure she struggled internally trying to process all of her grief and loss as well as the adjustment to a new mother. I don’t think she ever fully recovered from the loss of her beloved mother and brother at such a young age.
Instead of crumbling, Adeline rose to her challenges. She forged forward in her life, kept her sense of humor, and set high goals. She was born with a very determined and independent spirit, and that would last her through her very long lifetime. As a young woman, she desired to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At that time it was a very rare thing indeed for any young women to serve missions. Her father was quite opposed, and refused to pay for it.
Adeline was not deterred! She took a job as an elevator girl at the Hotel Utah [now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building] and worked long hours saving every penny of her wages for years so that she could pay her own way for her mission. Sure enough, she served an honorable 18 months in the Northern States Mission [side note: I would later serve my mission in some of the same areas 40+ years later). To illustrate how rare it was in those days for women to serve missions, Adeline only had two mission companionship’s in 18 months (serving 9 months each), because there were only about 6-8 sisters in the entire mission at any given time.
The love story of Adeline and Hale Burt Seely is delightful and unique. They met and courted at the Missionary Training Center! In those days mission instruction was located in downtown Salt Lake City, and was only held as a day class program, which lasted about 2 weeks. All of the missionaries could go out at night to dance, get ice cream or do other social things. Dating was not discouraged. Hale was training to serve in the Southern States Mission, and Adeline was headed to the Northern States Mission. They hit it off quickly, and went dancing every night (later she would complain it was the only time in their lives he ever took her dancing). Things are certainly very different today for LDS missionaries!
Adeline and Hale exchanged love letters for the next two and a half years and were married in 1944 in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple when Hale was on leave from the Marine Corps. It was now the height of World War II. (Note, Hale is wearing his military uniform in their wedding day photo). The newlyweds moved to California where she lived during WWII.
Adeline and Hale raised a family of 5 wonderful, strong, smart, talented children who all “married well”; Hale Ray (Linda) Seely, Glen Kleven (Karen) Seely, Colleen (Steve) Proctor, Ross (Laura) Seely, and Diane (John) Hansen. I was her first grandchild – daughter of her eldest son Ray. Her posterity has now grown exponentially – currently with 22 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren – and will continue to do so for generations and generations to come. Hale died in 1986 of a sudden heart attack at the young age of 64. It was an overwhelming loss for Adeline and she grieved deeply. Being such a beautiful and social woman she could not stay single for long. Less than two years later in 1988 she married the recently widowed husband of a dear friend – Ted Proctor.
Their marriage was very happy and they had a lot of great times together for twelve years; traveling in an RV, wintering in St. George Utah, hanging out with mutual friends, and cruising in Ted’s Cadillac. In 2000 Ted lost his battle with cancer.
Adeline stayed strong and true to her testimony of the Savior, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She was a stalwart member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many callings throughout her life in the church in both the Relief Society and with the children in Primary. She always loved a party, and loved being with friends and family so I know she is having the time of her life right now reuniting with all she had loved and lost.
There’s so much more that I could say in tribute to this beautiful woman who had made such a powerful impact on my life, but for now, I’ll smile and sing for her in my heart. I feel comforted knowing she will be there to greet me, with my many other loved ones who have passed, when it’s my turn for a Homecoming.
“When our turn comes to pass through the doors of death, may we say as did Paul: “The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:6–7.)” – Russell M. Nelson, Doors of Death, April 1992
For more memories of Adeline, be sure to check out the story of her 88th Birthday Party on 08-08-08.
OH, what a lady! I love you Grandma Addie, forever and always. Be sure to say hello for me to Grandpa Hale, and “Grandpa Ted”, our cousin Mark who’s been there one year this month, and all the gang. You go and have the BEST Homecoming Party EVER!! You deserve it.
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
– Holly, oldest grandchild of Adeline and Hale Seely.
“You’re the Flower of my heart; SWEET ADELINE” -written 1896, published in 1903
P.S. Editor note: this post has been modified with additional names and dates since first publishing.