My grandmother, Kora Marie Lindenmeyer , was born on February 22, 1905 in Dorrance, Kansas. She was one of six children of Minnie and Henry Lindenmeyer. Her siblings included two brothers, Fred and Clarence, and two sisters, Sadie and Carolyn. A third brother, Franklin, died when he was just six days old. Kora is eternally grateful for the love and support that were continually provided to her by her parents over the years.
“They were the nicest parents for which I could have ever asked,” she noted.
In 1908, Grandma and her family moved to Russell, Kansas. By 1921, Grandma graduated from high school in what she describes as a stunning feat.
“I completed high school in just three years,” she proudly beamed.
Grandma then attended Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas with an academic emphasis on music. Once her collegiate days were behind her, she returned to her home in Russell. Less than a years later, a cute young fellow by the name of Lloyd Hollinger, also of Russell and four years her senior, asked her out on a date. She accepted, and the rest is history. My grandparents walked down the aisle to wedded bliss in 1927. Together, they had two sons, L.A. and Blaine, both of whom attended the University of Kansas for both undergraduate work and for medical school.
Not one to let academics fall to the wayside for herself, Grandma attended business school in Salina, Kansas and pursued a career in secretarial work for a host of local oil companies and attorneys in her home town.
When L.A. and Blaine were grown and out of the nest, this gave Grandma and Grandpa ample time to do things together. Raising two ambitious and active boys all those years, as well as operating a thriving business – Hollinger Drug – for 40 years together, the two celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1977 with a host of family and friends joining in on the festivities with them.
Just two years later, Grandpa died suddenly from an aneurism in the heart. Although I had witnessed Grandma crying from time to time over the years, the tears she shed when her “Lloydie” died were more like water falls. He was the light of her life. However, as a woman with true inner strength, she still continued on with her life, not one to let the burdens of life weigh her down. Her stumbling blocks have always become stepping stones.
Heartache struck once again for Kora in 1993, as she watched her oldest son, my dad, L.A., pass away from complications due to an 18-month-long struggle with brain cancer. He was just a few weeks shy of his 60th birthday and just a few months shy of walking me down the aisle to be married.
Despite the ups and downs of her life, Kora has lived a rich existence on a host of levels. Her travels have taken her to many foreign countries including Russia, Egypt, Panama, Alaska, France, Hawaii, and Germany. She is a huge University of Kansas fan (she says Kansas State is okay, but they’re second to the Jayhawks. Don’t even get her started on the University of Missouri, though! Dangerous territory!).
Grandma fancies herself a “bridge maniac” and could play the game for hours. She has earned several bridge trophies over the years. And if you presume to play with her, you’d better be at the top of your game…or even better!
Grandma has always maintained close ties with her family. When Grandma’s children were babies, her mother lived next door. Kora would wave a diaper out the window as a signal that she needed help and her mother would come help with the children, diapering or feeding or whatever was needed. To the best of my knowledge, that was the first Instant Message!
Grandma has taken the whole family on a number of vacations, most recently on a cruise to Mexico in July 2010 (While she covered the expense for 22 persons in all, only 20 could be in attendance.). This was Kora’s 29th cruise.
Referring to her six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, she says “They’re all smart kids.” What the family has always gotten a kick out of is the way Grandma will forlornly say at the conclusion of each adventure, “This may be my last trip with all of you. I’m getting old, you know.” We heard this comment repeatedly throughout the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and into the 21st century. Still do. However, at the end of our most recent cruise, Grandma pulled me aside and enthusiastically whispered into my ear, “Let’s do this again in five years.” (Do the math. She was 105 when she said that! Optimism at its finest!)
The Hollingers always led a deeply religious life. They attended Otterbein United Methodist Church in Russell, where Grandma played piano and organ for 75 years until she retired at the age of 95, without ever taking a single paycheck for her endeavors! The family dog Snoopy “worked” at the drug store and often accompanied the family to church. When they were out of town, Snoopy still went to church when he heard the bells ringing. To add to this distinction, Grandma holds the record for being the longest continuous member of Otterbein United Methodist Church in Russell, Kansas at 96 years and counting. She was just 10 years old when she joined.
Grandma is a very generous person. She has a history of doing nice things for others, including donating a new organ to Otterbein Church, and often paying for the Otterbein youth group to go on their ski trips. She tells the story of a Philippine family whom Blaine brought to the U.S. in the 1960’s. They didn’t have anything, and the Hollingers helped them get started. Now both the husband and wife are successful doctors in K.C.
Grandma talks about playing bridge with Bob Dole’s mother, and visiting Bob in the hospital after he returned from the war. While the townspeople were pampering Bob, Kora told him to “get up and quit lying around.”
So, what exactly is the secret to Grandma’s longevity? For Kora, it’s one simple habit that has sustained her: “You just keep going and exercising. I’ve exercised all my life; I don’t mean running every day, but just staying active.” As to how she produced such successful sons, Grandma will just smile and wink, “Because they had a successful mother.”
So, sit back, relax, and enjoy a journey of faith, love, hope, peace, and laughter as you learn a few things about Grandma and her amazing life. It is intended to be less autobiographical and more inspirational. Take from it what you will. I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything, nor do I expect Grandma to be seen as a saint. She is who she is, and that is what makes this book special.