Edna Mae Conant, 93, passed away on Tuesday, May 1. She was born on March 16, 1925 in Hester, near Corsicana, Texas where she grew up. Her parents were Finis and Rena Sheets Fluker.
The eldest of 10 children, Edna learned her responsibility early in life by helping care for her seven sisters and two brothers. In 1942, Edna got married at the age of seventeen and had two children, Lynda and Jim. She struggled to care for them while her husband was away in the Navy. She went on to attend telegraph school in 1945.
Edna then married Homer Fred Conant in 1947, who just re-enlisted in the Army for the second time after serving in World War II. Shortly after her third child Gregory was born, Fred would leave for Japan where he would be reassigned to Yokahoma in January of 1949. Edna stayed back for six months in Corsicana with her three children as they waited eagerly to travel by ship and join Fred. They spent three years in Japan, where Edna volunteered for the Red Cross and took care of her children. They took pleasure in doing things as a family, like going on hikes through the woods to an all-time favorite spot that overlooked the Pacific Ocean.
In 1950, Fred was sent to defend South Korea from the Communist invasion from North Korea. Edna soon was notified that Fred was missing in action. She did not once give up hope, and refused to return to the U.S. without him. Fred finally found his way to safety, leading the way for two other unexperienced soldiers. Their battalion and platoon were all killed and they were left without food or ammunition. The three men were required to hide out in the woods and survive on only what they could scavenge to eat.
Edna and the children would later attend a parade and ceremony for Fred, where he was awarded the bronze star and many other medals for his bravery and leadership. In 1952, the family returned to Ft. Sam in San Antonio where they lived for a couple of years until they relocated to Karachi Pakistan in 1955. Edna followed Fred several months later with four children, one of which was an infant. Fred served in a special undercover assignment at the American Embassy.
Edna had to quickly grasp the knowledge of formal affairs and proper etiquette, where she learned from books and the American women who had arrived before her. Together, Fred and Edna attended formal parties and functions at the Embassy. In this unique circumstance, there was no division based on rank or status regarding functions at the Embassy. Living in a primitive culture was quite an adjustment for the family, but the small American community provided the necessary moral support and cohesiveness.
Edna learned many things like how to bake bread and order enough supplies from out of the country to last for months. The family would make many adventurous trips, by jeep, to the Arabian sea and enjoy taking in the sights and sailing. The first year they were in Karachi, they suffered a real tragedy, nearly losing one of their sons from an assault by a Pakistani man. Again Edna was faced with a tough decision and wanted to keep her family together, so she decided not to return to the U.S. with the children.
Military ties run deep in the Conant family. Edna’s son, Jim, had joined the Navy. Later, Greg joined the Army and she also had a son-in-law in the Air Force. They all served in the Vietnam War, and Gregory paid the ultimate price in February of 1968, making Edna a Gold Star Mother. Fred retired three years later to Gonzales, Texas.
Fred and Edna found an interest in camping at Willow Creek in New Mexico. Fred built a cabin, furniture and fished with sons Vince and Tim, while Edna spent time keeping up the camp, reading and writing. This became their special place. They vacationed there every year until 2009, when Fred had an aneurysm in his brain, declining his health thereafter.
In the late 70s, Edna discovered her admirable talents in sewing, drawing, and oil painting. Her artwork could be found on exhibition in many of the Gonzales art shows, banks, and many other places in the surrounding counties. Edna accepted many ribbons in recognition for her art. She was very active in her community for all forty years she spent in Gonzales, involving herself in many groups such as: The Garden Club, Art Group, and The First Baptist Church, where she taught Sunday school for many years.
Edna was a very generous person. She contributed to many causes, to the people of her community, and especially to her brother, Gene, in his ministry. Edna kept in touch with her many friends all over the world that she met throughout her lifetime. Every year, Edna and Fred sent and received 75 Christmas cards to people they had known for 70 years. One friend from New York has continued to keep in touch with her for 73 years, as of 2017. Edna was a devoted wife and mother. She was married 66 years to the love of her life, Fred, who passed away on June 24, 2013.
Edna is survived by her daughter, Lynda Mosier of Denton, Texas, sons Jim Conant of Chicago, Illinois, Vincent Conant of Lockhart, Texas and Tim Conant of Florida. She was also survived by seven grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren, six sisters and two brothers.
Edna was preceded in death by her parents, husband, son Gregory, and sister Dorothy Dixon.
Visitation for Edna will be held on Tuesday, May 8 from 10-11 a.m. at Seydler-Hill Funeral Home in Gonzales, Texas and a funeral service at 11 a.m., with Dr. Chris Irving officiating. Interment will follow in the Gonzales Memorial Park Cemetery. Friends and family may sign the guestbook by visiting seydlerhillfuneralhome.com. Arrangements are under the care and direction of Seydler-Hill Funeral Home.