|GEORGE WILLIAM (BILL) GILLETT FAMILY HISTORY||BACK to the GILLETT FAMILY|
Ira Elijah Gillett
Born: July 24, 1910, in Fort Dodge, Iowa,
Atha Arthela (Morlan) Gillett
Born: October 4, 1914, in Montana (in a sod house
Married: March 11, 1933, in Olathe, Kansas
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Occupation: Ira was Secretary/Treasurer of the Kansas and Missouri Railway and Terminal Company
Atha was a seamstress / inspector at Crother's Dry Cleaners
Ira and Atha first met at graduation exercises in May of 1931 at the old Convention Hall in Kansas City, Missouri. Atha had gone there with her best friend, Bessie Maxwell (who later became the wife of Walter Cronkite, a well-known CBS newscaster).
At the time Atha was a 16-year-old junior at Central High School; Ira was 20 years old. They were married two years later.
Ira had just purchased a brand new 1931 Chevrolet, a dark red sedan with white wire wheels. There were spare tires on each side of the front fender wells of the car. The car had cost about $650.
When they were married in 1933, Ira was a stenographer/clerk for the Kansas and Missouri Railway and Terminal Company (K&M), a switching line owned by the Kansas City Southern. He earned $100 per month. Their office was located at 1711 Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. Although he never graduated from high school, at his retirement in 1964 he was Secretary/Treasurer of that railway.
As a young, struggling family during the depression they also supported Ira's parents and, until they could get their feet on the ground, his younger brother and family. Ira's parents ended up living with the Ira Gillett family for twenty years starting in 1941 until his mother was moved to a nursing home in 1961.
The newly married Gilletts started housekeeping at a furnished upstairs apartment at 2700 North Early in Kansas City, Kansas. They rented the apartment for $25 per month.
After deciding to set up their own house, they went out and purchased furniture for $300 ($10 per month) and rented a house at 1423 North 28th for $15 per month. While living there their first child, James Warren Gillett, was born on September 18, 1933. That year as an extra bonus Ira won a $40 first prize in a Kansas Christmas contest. Their second son, George William (Bill) Gillett, was born on April 1, 1935.
Living next door was Dick and Irene Williams and their three children. Dick, worked for the Kaw Valley Railroad, whose offices were in the same building as the K & M Railway.
Their house on North 28th was only a one-bedroom house; therefore, they decided to move to 410 North 29th in 1936. This house had two bedrooms and a breakfast room. Living in the same block were Frank and Olive Wittenburg, their good friends. (Frank also worked for the Kansas City Southern.)
Around Christmas of 1937, Ira's brother, Adrien, and his wife, Helen, came to live with them. Adrien was working for the Progressive Brass Company in Kansas City, Missouri, at the time for about $20 a week. This was the same company where their father, George Gillett, worked.
The owner sold the house they were renting resulting in their move to 3011 Oakland with Adrien and Helen still living with them. While living on Oakland, Jim started to Roosevelt School, where he had Miss Esther Unger for his kindergarten teacher. Miss Unger was the kindergarten teacher for all four of Ira and Atha's children.
They moved to 1704 Nebraska in January of 1939 paying $30 a month rent for all 16 years they lived there. Virginia Louise Gillett, their first daughter and third child, was born shortly thereafter on February 20, 1939. Soon afterward, Ira's brother, Adrien, and his wife moved in with George and Sana Gillett, Ira's and Adrien's parents, who were then living at 43rd and Euclid in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1939 Ira and Atha sold their 1931 Chevrolet for $45 because it became too costly to maintain and Ira had only two short blocks to walk to work. They didn't own another car until 1947.
In December of 1940 Jim contracted polio, which required the house to be quarantined. Jim was seven years old and in the second grade at Mark Twain Grade School at the time. The only major lasting effect was the loss of the thumb muscle in his right hand. Shortly after returning from the hospital, he contracted a very severe case of measles.
Due to a servere respiratory illness, George Gillett, Ira's father, had to retire and in August of 1941 he and his wife, Sana, moved in with Ira and Atha. Their other son, Adrien, had already accepted a position with an aircraft firm in Seattle, Washington. Shortly thereafter Sana Gillett started working at Providence Hospital as a nurses' aide.
During the war years of World War II, Ira was exempt from the draft because of his railroad work but served as an auxiliary policeman in his spare time. Due to the shortage of soap and bread, Atha made both for the family and for friends and neighbors in the area.
In 1942, Atha started working at the Cascade Laundry and Dry Cleaning Company located at 47th and Forest in Kansas City, Missouri. She had grown up in the dry cleaning business and was an excellent seamstress. In 1943 she started working for Crothers' Cleaners, 11th and Minnesota, in Kansas City, Kansas, and worked there until her retirement, except for three years around the time when Anita Ruth Gillett was born on October 6, 1945. Atha had just turned 31 when Anita was born.
Although they had started going to the First Presbyterian Church in 1937, they did not join the church until 1945. They were active in all aspects of the church life, being president of the Couples Club (Friendship Class) with Ira also serving as a deacon and an elder on the session. He served as chairman of the Christian Education Committee.
When Jim (1945) and Bill (1947) joined Troop 6 of the Boy Scouts at the church, both Ira and Atha became very active in the organization. Atha was president of the Mothers' Club and Ira served on the troop committee. When the Explorers were set up as a branch of the Scouts in 1951, Ira Gillett was named their first Explorer Advisor.
In 1946 Ira was asked to take the chief clerks job located in Pittsburg, Kansas (still for the Kansas City Southern Railway), but after three months he decided he preferred his job at the K & M Railway.
After a long illness, George Gillett, Ira's father, died on May 31, 1952.
In 1954 Atha was pregnant again and, therefore, it was decided to move to a larger house (4 bedrooms) at 2929 Parkwood. This was the first house they had purchased; all the others were rented.
Shortly after moving there, the bady was stillborn and Ira started having problems with his health.
While Atha and Ira were chaperoning a church hayride in the fall of 1956, their daughter, Virginia, fell and broke her collar bone when the horse bolted.
Ira's mother, Sana Gillett, moved with them to 2929 Parkwood.
In 1961 she entered Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home, where she
passed away on August 28, 1967 at the age of 80.
In 1961 the family moved to 5739 Georgia in a new home they had purchased and completely paid off. In 1964, after 37 years of service, Ira Gillett retired from the Kansas and Missouri Railway and Terminal Company because of ill health. His last position was as Secretary/Treasurer.
Atha Gillett retired from the cleaning business in 1979 after 33 years at Crothers Cleaners. She continued to do a lot of sewing for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Through their hard work they were able to raise four children, all of them obtaining college degrees, and still able to live comfortably in their retirement years. They entered the Presbyterian Manor in 1987 after Atha had her first triple bypass heart operation. Because of all the problems associated with his parents living with them, they were determined they would never impose on their children in that manner.
Ira passed away on December 15, 1989, at age 79. Within two weeks of his death, Atha had another heart bypass operation. Atha died four and half years later, on July 20, 1994, also at age 79. Their entombment was at the Highland Park Cemetery in Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas.