My blog posts have been non existent for some time. I have been writing, and painting a little, but for a very different and personal reason. My mother, Louise Ransom went to her heavenly home on July 18th. We had an intimate memorial celebration for her in my home this week. Honoring my mom was a joy, because she honored the Lord with her life. Today I posted the Eulogy which I wrote to honor her life if you care to read it along with some of the photos which were shown at the service.
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."
Ella Louise Ransom was born in Chicago, Illinois September 1, 1922. Her family had moved there when her father, Harold Huntsman, enrolled in the Wurlitzer school of Organ. His dance band, “The Blue Melody Boys” had just broken up after five years of touring the southern states playing in the popular “dime-a-dance” halls. Louise’s mom, Martha and her brother, Harold Jr., had been traveling with the band, and when Martha became pregnant with Louise, they decided to settle down to raise their family.
Six weeks later they moved to Decatur, Illinois, where her dad played pipe organ for silent films, and accompanied vaudeville acts on the piano. Her parents bought a nice home on a tree lined street, near the Baptist church that became their church home. In 1926 her sister Emily was born.
At four years old, some of Louise’s artistic interest was emerging… Recently Louise wrote of this. “Oh Mom! She’s done it again!” That was the plaintiff cry of a 9 year old boy whose 4 year old sister, Louise, had invaded his room in his absence and played with his paint set. The multi-colored mess was convicting. Mom said to Louise, “We’ve asked you more than once not to go into Harold’s room and you’ve disobeyed, so I’ll have to use the ping pong paddle.” “But mom, the colors are so pretty and if I mix 2 of them there’s another color!” The ping pong paddle did its job. Privately her parents wondered if she could have a natural talent. The next Christmas, there was a paint box marked, “Louise” under the tree.
In the late 20’s sound came to the movies, so her father lost his job at the theatre, and eventually they lost their home. The Huntsmans were creative. Louise’s parents built a hamburger stand and sold hamburgers, chili, ice cream, candy and pop…everything priced at 5 cents. They also invented the Huntsman Candy Bar which they produced in the basement of their rented home and distributed to grocery stores all over town. In 1931 with the Great Depression upon them, a band of gypsies traveling through town robbed their hamburger stand business at knife-point. To add to the difficulties, Harold Sr. broke his rib and was no longer able to do the strenuous work required for producing the candy bars so they went out of business.
Although growing up during the hardships of the “Great Depression” years, in her own words, Louise said “her childhood was extremely happy. In the atmosphere of a joyful Christian family, the focus was on God-given blessings, faith in the Almighty, and always with gratitude, and a touch of humor.”
Louise’s grandma and aunt, who lived in Los Angeles, invited her family to come to California where there were more jobs available. The Huntsmans headed west when Louise was 9 years old. Trusting in God, they forged ahead with optimism. The three kids saw it as a great adventure, and didn’t understand the hardship at the time. While Louise’s dad attended Barber College with the plan of opening his own shop, Louise loved living with her grandma, who taught her to bake cookies, make pie dough, and do embroidery work.
In 1935, her dad opened his business in L.A. Louise was 12. They lived in the one room apartment above the shop, and even though crowded they were happy days. The kids would play on the sidewalk out front, or on the flat roof, where they had a pet duck, named Donald. Louise said, “We had little materially, but ours was a loving, joyful family with faith in God and hope for our future.”
Eventually they were able to buy a simple farm-style house just off Sunset in Hollywood. It seemed like a palace to Louise, after living in the tiny apartment. The Huntsmans loved people so the welcome mat was always out. Their home was used for meetings, special events and big family dinners for years. A grand piano was added and the sound of music filled the rooms for many years, as Harold Sr. continued to be a professional musician along with barbering.
While in High School, Louise continued developing her skills with a paint brush, and her teachers noticed. She took classes at Art Center College of Design as a high school student, and was awarded a scholarship to Otis Art Institute, where she attended the year after she graduated, in 1941. She was offered a 2nd year scholarship but turned it down, in favor of a college education beginning with Los Angeles City College. When World War II interrupted her college years, and she went to work for Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank as a technical illustrator until the end of the war.
In 1943 Louise joined Hollywood Presbyterian Church. It was there under the teaching of Dr. Louis Evans, and discipled by Dr. Henrietta Mears, that she fell in love with the Word of God. Even though raised in a Christian home and brought up in the truth, she had never before been challenged to study the Bible for herself. At the end of the war, she attended a college retreat at Forest Home, that marked a major turning point in her life. In her own words, “With the end of WW II one month earlier, I was faced with a dilemma: Should I continue with my good job at Lockheed Aircraft, or follow my dream of a college education with a major in art? There were pros and cons on both sides. Though I considered myself to be a Christian already, at the conference I was moved to commit my life to Christ, pray for guidance, and trust God to open doors. Once back home, I learned it wasn’t too late to have my credits transferred from LA City College to UCLA and register for the fall semester. I could afford it because UCLA was a no tuition school at the time, and I was able to find a part time job to help with college expenses. My parents were supportive. It seemed God’s will was now clear. I was grateful and overjoyed!!
“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5 had new and personal meaning for her.
She graduated from UCLA in 1948. She would be a Bruin for life much to the dismay of the USC fans in the family. Her training in the art department would lead to a life-long passion for art and great pleasure in sharing her artwork with others. She returned to technical illustrating at Lockheed along with free-lance jobs. It was at Lockheed that she was to meet her one true love.
Bill remembers meeting Louise…“We passed each other on a stairway and our eyes met. A few weeks later we were introduced at the Lockheed Art Club exhibit. I was supposed to take pictures of the winners in different categories so they could publish the results in the Lockheed Star newspaper. Soon after we had our first date at a friend’s house. It was dinner followed by viewing color slides of recent trips my friend and I had taken. I was attracted to her basic sweetness. With Louise, it was always somebody else came first.”
They enjoyed ice skating lesson dates, dinner dates, and especially at a favorite restaurant on Riverside drive where they would talk about the Sunday sermon.
They were married at Hollywood Presbyterian Church on February 3, 1950.
Shortly after getting married, they spent a brief time in Menlo Park in the bay area. Bill remembers taking drives along the 17 Mile Drive along the coastline and take pictures. Louise made paintings from some of Bill’s photographs of the windswept trees and the winds blowing off the ocean. One such painting was a gift for her brother, and now belongs to her granddaughter, April.
For the next 34 years their home was in La Crescenta, California. Their church home was La Crescenta Baptist Church. They were blessed with two children, Laurie and Paul. While raising their family they enjoyed many vacations in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and grew to love the beauty of God’s creation in that part of the country. Louise enjoyed getting close to nature, hiking through the back country far away from the crowds. The fact that she was a good sport made her a perfect wife for Bill who introduced her to backpacking, snow skiing, and camping. She often brought along her sketchpad and paints and made these family adventures such fun with her cheerful attitude and willing spirit. She would help her kids collect rocks, pine cones, and wildflowers to be pressed in the old Sears catalog she brought along. Later they would be made into greeting cards. She was curious about everything and always wanted to understand and learn.
In his late teens, Paul was killed in a driving accident. This was a very painful time for Bill and Louise but they sought to find the purposes of God in the loss of their son. A memorial fund was established to help provide rooms in a conference facility at Hume Lake Christian Camps which gave a small glimpse into the good that can come from a tragic situation. The peace that passes understanding was given to them.
Mom was a problem solver. She could figure out anything. I think this helped her with her homemaking skills, but more especially with teaching me to balance my checkbook, cooking, baking, and sewing. No one made better pie dough, and when asked she’d say, ‘Oh, I just follow the recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook.”
She was a very good listener. I could solve most of my problems by “running them by mom.” I think her occasional questions would help me come to a good solution. Her creativity was everywhere. Every Christmas she and my father designed original, personal Christmas cards. As a kid I remember seeing the two of them silk screening the cards and they’d be laying all over drying between color runs. For one birthday party, she made eight Barbie doll outfits for party favors. Her artistic touch permeated our home. Beautiful paintings, hand sewn tablecloths and clothes. She illustrated titles for my dad’s many films. But the best thing about my mom was the way she loved Jesus. She tried her hardest to live for Him. She was everything a mother should be. Compassionate, encouraging, resourceful, patient, a good teacher and so fun.
Louise became a grandma twice. Sarah and April adored her. Their strongest memory of Grandma is her joyful smile. “She radiated joy in all seasons of life, knowing that God works all things together for good. Grandma was FUN! Whether bouncing on the trampoline, trying to teach us to “Charleston”, mailing us picture letters, or showing us a new parlor game, she loved to laugh and have fun with us.” Sarah said, “Grandma was the most thankful person I have ever known. She gave thanks for all things and saw God’s hand in each provision.
As a Christian woman, Grandma grew more and more fervent in her love for God and His word. Even into her 90’s, she studied her Bible diligently and shared God’s truth with others. I want to be like her when I grow up.” April loves how Grandma never had a sense of entitlement. Also, she always wanted to know about April and her family. “I want the details” Grandma would say. She admired that as a senior, Grandma never coasted spiritually, actively pursuing sanctification and knowing Christ more.”
Bill and Louise retired to Bozeman, Montana in 1984 and spent 26 years, just north of Yellowstone. It was a delightful location 20 minutes from town, with plenty of wildlife, wildflowers, and beautiful views of the Gallatin Valley. They attended Grace Bible Church in town. Louise hosted ladies groups so the new women could get acquainted with other ladies, and brought meals to those who were sick. Eventually they moved into town and she attended a weekly ladies bible study in the neighborhood. Their years in Montana were full of photography, paintings, craft fairs and art shows.
She produced close to 100 paintings while living there. When asked about her talent, she humbly said, “All creativity comes from God, and because we are made in His image, everyone is creative in one way or another.”
While living in Montana, Sarah and April both got married, and Louise became a great-grandma eight times over. She absolutely LOVED each one, even though four of them were across the country in Florida. Her great grandkids remember her as joyful no matter what. When she could, she would read to them from the worn out Disney story book that she read to their mommies and grandma many years before. “da Tar Baby” was the favorite of all.
In 2011 the Ransoms moved to California right across the street from Gary and Laurie. They gave up their beautiful Montana to be near the family. These last three years brought many physical limitations upon Louise. Arthritis, failing eyesight, poor hearing, and heart problems, plagued her, but she didn’t complain, and nothing stole her joy and optimism. She found satisfaction in simple pleasures like an email from an old friend, getting to know and love her caregivers, and reading her Bible. Her love for Bill continued to deepen especially over the last few years.
We are eternally grateful to God for the 91 years He gave our precious wife, mother, grandma, great-grandma and friend. We will miss her terribly but rejoice that her best years are just beginning. She is enjoying her Savior face to face and reunited with those who have gone before her. Thank you Lord, for the life of Ella Louise Ransom.
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."
Honoring my mom was a joy,
because she honored the Lord with her life.