The Short Life of Wadie Lee Rawls

Wadie Lee was my father’s sister.

She died when Dad was five.

I found an obituary written by someone who appears to be her music teacher.

When Wadie Lee died of influenza in 1918, her mother  Tula was also sick in bed with the flu, and my dad, who was Wadie Lee’s younger brother, was ill with whooping cough. They were too ill to attend her funeral. The obit mentions the  her father John plus the oldest child Pauline who was born and died on June 6, 1904. There is also her brother James Leonard who was mentioned, although not called by name.

From GenealogyBank: Dresden Enterprise and Sharon Tribune, Friday, December 13, 918, Dresden, Tennessee, Vol: 36, Page: 9.

Death of Sweet Girl.


Wadie Lee, daughter of Tula and John Rawls, was born Dec. 16, 1906; died Dec. 6, 1918; aged ten years and 12 days. She was a victim of that dread disease, influenza and was sick only a few days, but those few days were days of great suffering.

Wadie Lee was a bright, cheerful girl, full of promise for a useful life and it seems so hard to give her up, even for a little while, but the loving parents are reconciled that God’s will be done. The mother was in bed with flu, and little baby brother, Roy Clayton, had whooping cough and could not attend the funeral services at Wesley’s Chapel. She was a good, sweet, innocent child and we feel sure that she is at rest for she talked of dying and said she was not afraid to go.

I had known her scarcely a year, yet I loved her dearly. For the last three months she had come to my home every other day for a music lesson, and took the greatest delight in her music. But, dear girl, we will practice together no more on earth, but I believe that some day we shall meet together in a  better world, where we will enjoy the sweetest music and where no note of discord will be heard.

The members of her Sunday school class arranged a lovely floral wreath. Wadie will be greatly missed in Sunday school and the junior missionary society, for she attended both as regularly as she could.

She leaves a father, mother, two little brothers and a host of relatives and sorrowing friends–while she has gone to join her older sister, Pauline.

May the God of heaven sanctify this sudden death to the everlasting good and happiness of all who knew and loved her.

Written by a true friend.

There’s a discrepancy in the obit about her age. It says she was born Dec. 16, 1906, and died Dec. 6, 1918, and was ten years and 12 days. The calendar math doesn’t add up to that age. Another confusion is that her gravestone says she died on Dec. 7, 1918. I think perhaps that the obit writer was greatly overcome with grief, and so got the age wrong. It also appears that the matching gravestones for Pauline, Wadie Lee, and Dorthy Sue were ordered and installed at the same time, and that time had dimmed the recollection of the exact death date.

Sleep well, cheerful angel. We’re thinking of you.

2 Responses to “The Short Life of Wadie Lee Rawls”

  1. GP Cox Says:

    It is always so sad to see a child die. Death is bad enough, but a child?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ruth Rawls Says:

      I agree absolutely. I’d heard of the influenza epidemic and wondered if that was what happened to Wadie Lee. There is no death certificate for her, even though deaths were recorded for that year. I scrolled through all the death certs for December, and there were numerous deaths due to flu on and about the day she died. This makes me wonder if there were so many deaths that some were simply not recorded. It is a small gift from the universe that I found this obituary.

      Liked by 1 person

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