Bill and Freda Ankrom
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Wendy's Nanee (seated) and Mamaw at their 50th wedding anniversary. According to the story Linda tells, Wendy always called her grandmother Ankrom Nanee (Freda's wish), but never took to calling her grandfather Pop (Freda's wish). She was confused as to why she had no Grandma Ankrom, so she decided to call the non-Nanee grandparent "Grandma", which at age 2 came out "Mamaw". It just stuck. It wasn't until she was much older that Wendy realized all of her friends' "Mamaws" were actually female!

William Hiley Ankrom

Bill Ankrom was the second of three children (an older sister Kathleen and a younger brother Harry) born to Nora Mae and R. P. Ankrom. Everyone says Nora Mae was a lot like Wendy, a bundle of fire in a tiny body. If possible, she was even fierier than Wendy. Nora Mae once caught some men taking hickory nuts out of her tree. They refused to leave until she pulled out the shot-gun and fired into the branches.

Nora Mae was one of the younger of a lot of Flannagan children. R. P. Ankrom took her out one evening. She invited him in and within minutes (the story goes) had prepared a feast for him. He decided then and there to marry her. R.P.’s father Hiley had a dream of building a 1000 acre Ankrom farm in Noble County Ohio. As part of this dream, he gave R. P. and Nora Mae a farm down the road from his own as a wedding gift. The two houses were within view of each other on two different hilltops. Eventually, this farm passed to Bill’s sister Kathleen and her husband Francis when R. P. and Nora Mae retired to the town of Barnesville. R. P. was a sheep farmer as well as a house painter. He died in 1978 after a 10 year battle with skin cancer. Wendy’s Mom told Wendy’s dad that she was pregnant on the way home from R. P.’s funeral.

R. P.’s parents Hiley and Emmarita (pronounced Emma-retty) lived on the family farm that Hiley and his father had purchased. R. P. was born in the house. He had a lot of older brothers who tried to play tricks on him. One night, they decided they would hide in the attic and scare him after dark. R. P. got wind of the plan and locked the attic door on his way to bed…with his brothers in the attic. Another time R. P. told about chasing after a goose. The goose had had enough and knocked R. P. onto the ground then proceeded to pick off all of his buttons.

Bill quit school before graduation and enlisted in the army. He was promptly shipped off to the frontlines of the European theater, WWII. During the war, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and eventually ended up stationed in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. He and several other soldiers were billeted with an elderly Czech couple. Although the G. I.s had the right to take over the house, they treated the couple with great respect. In return, the wife made sure they had the cleanest, best pressed uniforms in the entire town. The couple had grown very thin over the years of the war, so Bill and his comrades decided to fatten them up. Every day at mealtime, they ate their portion, then got back in the end of the mess line to load up plates for the couple. When it was time for the G. I.’s to return home, the couple stood at their front gate to wave good-bye. The wife cried so hard, she shook the picket fence.

Bill in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia

During the war, Bill eloped with Freda Doris VanFossen. They went on to have two sons Brad and Randy and three grandchildren Bradley, Wendy and Kim. Bill eventually earned his G. E. D. and worked in a variety of jobs including furnace installation and heavy equipment operation (he helped build a lot of the interstate in Ohio). After Hiley and Emmarita passed away in the late 1950s, Bill moved his family to the Ankrom farm where he and Freda lived until 2002. Today they live in Caldwell, OH where Bill has managed to make waves on the city counsel.

 

Freda Doris VanFossen Ankrom

Freda was born to Serena and Harry VanFossen, one of 6 children. Freda and her two closest sisters Hilma and Betty are still inseparable. When Freda was a little girl, her mother had to leave for a few days. Freda had to cook and made gravy that turned out more than a little lumpy. When her mother got home she asked what they’d had for dinner. Her little sister answered, “Freda made gravy and dumplings.” Freda went on to become a renowned cook.

One night while she was in high school, a carload of boys from Quakercity showed up. There was a very handsome young G. I. among them. Later, Freda managed to arrange to sit in the seat next to him. When they went around a curve, she somehow ended up pressed right up against him. After they kissed, he didn’t smoke another cigarette all the way home. They married the next year and are still happily married 61 years later.

Freda spent the war years as a Western Union employee in Washington, D. C. She was responsible for transcribing casualty lists. All the girls in the office new who had significant others in which units. Whenever casualty lists from Bill Ankrom’s unit came in, someone else would check the list before Freda was allowed to see it. After the war, Freda became a career lady, working as a Noble County social worker. She worked with Sandy See, the mother of Wendy’s best friend Andrea. Sandy debriefed Andrea before a visit to the Ankrom farm once, “Now, you must be on your best manners. Mrs. Ankrom is a real lady.”