Funeral Friday: Eulogy for my mother Penny Brown Geiszler

My mother passed away on 10 Dec of this year. Since I created a family history scrapbook about her life (or 'wrote the book on her' so to speak), I delivered the eulogy at her memorial service. Many friends and family were unable to attend the wonderful celebration of her life. I share this eulogy, modified slightly to protect the living, so all many celebrate the life of my sweet momma.

"My mom was loved by many people near and far. She also never did things the easy way. Passing away during the busiest time of the year, strains the schedules of many. Good news though, she got her Christmas cards out!

Penny Brown
Penny Brown, 6 months old

My mother was born after my Grandpa Lew returned home from serving as a mechanic during World War II in India. She was welcomed into the home by an older sister and her mother Louise Long. Penny had an average American upbringing in an average American town. Lew was a Bowling Lanes manager and later became a home delivery milkman in Ohio. For the most part, Louise was a stay at home mom. Lew and Louise raised their daughters near German Village in Columbus Ohio. And they enjoyed Ohio State University football, where Lew often worked as an usher.

Columbus Hurrican Baton Twirler
Penny as Baton Twirler for the
Columbus Hurricanes Drum & Bugle Corp

When Penny entered her teenage years, she was boy crazy and loved being a part of the Columbus Hurricane Drum and Bugle corps as a baton twirler. She was looking forward to graduating in 06-66. At the age of 12, her baby sister was born. Penny won a bet with her daddy to name her sister. Thankfully she didn't pick a strange name, though she's been known to think of a few weird ones. (For instance, I could have been named CynnamyRayn... all those y's). 

Daughters of Lewis Sherman Brown and Louise Eleanor Long
Penny and her sisters in the late 70s
In December of 1966, mom met my dad. Mom loved telling the story about how she was dating a guy named “Moose”. They went to a dance at a roller skating rink. Moose told my dad, a roadie for a rock band, to hold my mother for a minute. I guess Daddy didn't hear the 'minute' part. Penny forgot about Moose and was married to Robert Geiszler the following September.

Penny Brown and Robert Geiszler
Penny Brown and Robert Geiszler
Formal dance in 1967
My father held a number of jobs through their early married years. He was a loading dock worker for Borden's, the same company Grandapa Lew worked for. In the early 70s, Daddy knew that he needed to improve his education so he attended Franklin University. He worked all night and attended classes by day. In the meantime, Penny welcomed her son into the world. When he was 2, he attended daddy's graduation. Penny and Bob couldn't have been happier. However, the early 70s was not a great time for accountants.

So Bob became a gas station owner. Penny worried constantly about him during this time period. Penny doesn't like guns, but my father grew up with a Hunting Club member for a father. He knew how to use a gun and wasn't afraid to pack heat. Since this was the Carter administration and times were tough with a capital T, Daddy looked for new job opportunities and Penny began working for Ohio Statue University Medical Center as a medical secretary.

When I joined the family, my mother continued to work for the OSU hospital and my father took a civil service examination. He proved himself to be a good accountant and was given several job offers. Penny and Bob chose the job in Houston. In 1978, the family left Ohio and came to the southwest side of town.

Now, I need to back track just a bit because I haven't shared another big change in the Geiszler home. In 1975, my parents were introduced to missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by some friends. My father challenged the female missionaries relentlessly during their first meeting. My mom, really didn't want a part of it. My father was impressed by the missionaries ability to defend their faith without becoming defensive. He wanted to learn more.

My mother said daddy could visit with missionaries as long as they met on the back porch. Slowly, my father got the missionaries into their home to teach the gospel and my mother desired to learn more. Soon mom and dad were baptized and active in their congregation in the Bexley area of Ohio. In joining this church, her fire for family history was ignited. She passed that love for genealogy on to me.

When the family moved to Texas with two young children and a dog, Dad worked for the IRS and Mom went to work for various companies. She was a valued secretary at Gulf Oil until the oil boom went bust in the 80s. Later she worked for St. Luke's Hospital.

Robert and Penny Geiszler family

When not at work, momma carted her kids to drum lessons, gymnastics, cub scouts, and girl scouts. She was our number one fan. When my brother entered high school, Mom was at every football game to watch the band. She often said the football game was there to entertain folks until the band came on. Mom was not only her son's number one fan, but she was beloved by numerous other band members who also called her 'mom'.

Somewhere during this time, mom developed adult onset diabetes and back problems. In the early 90s, my mother fell at work and had enough damage to her back that she never worked again. She was excited for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. Now, instead of just attending football games to watch me twirl flags and be band mom to many, she could also volunteer at my school when she felt well. She loved this new path so much. I often say she was more popular at my high school than I was! (And at the time, I hated it). 

While I was in high school, I entered my first beauty pageant. My mom was a full supporter, though I was completely clueless in the ways of femininity having been a tomboy all my life. Mom saw pageants as an opportunity to change me into a girly girl. After someone made a rude comment to dad when my first pageant was over, he became my biggest supporter to prove that person wrong. So Penny and Bob's involvement in pageantry began.

When I left for college, my mother felt the rug pulled out from under her. She didn't have band or volunteering work as her nest was empty. She felt she could only cheer for me when I competed. What to do?

Bob, Penny, and Devon Geiszler in pageantry
Penny and Bob Geiszler with me
after winning my first beauty pageant.

Turn For The Judges Logo
Mom's Pageant Hobby
Start Turn For The Judges pageant news service of course! My mom wanted to shine the light on teenagers and adult women who competed in pageants. She felt the little girls got all the coverage in pageant magazines; but the spotlight should be on the older girls. It was a belief she held firmly to for the rest of her life. Through her pageant news efforts, she began attending more and more pageants

As she did so, Mom started seeing other girls who she adored and became their biggest fan. The first of which is my sweet friend Amanda Perry. If Mom and Dad hadn't introduced me to my 'new sister' at a pageant I attended, rather than competed in, I wouldn't know this special lady. After twenty years in pageantry, the number of 'daughters' they adopted in the pageant world is large. Basically, my brother and I have more sisters than we can even count. As evident by the postings on mom's Facebook page, Mom touched the lives of many.

Robert and Penny Geiszler
together again.
 In efforts to keep this brief, I'm sure I missed a lot of things. However, to know Penny Brown Geiszler is to know she LOVED her family though she wasn't always the best at showing it. (Between us, she really loves her grandkids the best!) She loved Ohio State, but finally learned to cheer for Texas A&M (where I attended). Unless of course it's a OSU/Aggie match up, she had no division of loyalty. It was Buckeyes all the way. Mom believed in the word of God as taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And she fought various illnesses throughout her adult life.

As she's laid to rest, I pray all of our hearts will be comforted knowing, she's not that far away. She's left this life for one without the health problems. Without those things slowing her down, she'll be joining my father and her parents. I'm sure they are introducing her to all the relatives she researched through her family history efforts. She'll also meet the mystery persons that plague me in my own research. (Yes, I'm secretly jealous). But she won't be too far from watching over her family and friends. And if God allows, she'll check in on the Buckeyes, and maybe the Aggies on occasion

Be at peace momma. Say hi to daddy. We'll miss you and all your quirks."


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