November 26, 2022
By Kathy Smith
In 1922 the first radio in the White House was installed at the behest of President William G. Harding. Eskimo Pie Ice Cream Pie was invented and the Molly Pitcher Organized was formed as a woman’s organization to promote the repeal of Prohibition.
In Lee’s Summit, Harry Truman threw his hat in the political ring in his first run for office as Jackson County Judge. The Missouri Dairy Company was built at 4th and Douglas, formerly Chapman Dairy and now the Dairy Queen.
In the sleepy town of Holden, Virginia Gudel was born on December 18th.
I had the pleasure the other day to sit down with Virginia to listen to her stories about growing up and her eventual move to Lee’s Summit.
Virginia’s family moved from Holden to Lone Jack when she was 12. Her father farmed the land owned by Elmer Cave of the historic Cave Family who were part of the folks who settled in Lone Jack.
Virginia completed her grade school education and immediately went to work taking care of her mother who was an invalid and her brother who was an epileptic. This fine young woman did all of the chores that farm kids did plus being a caregiver. Imagine doing all of the cooking, cleaning, washing, and regular farm chores. Virginia had the making of a strong young woman even at a young age.
She married Ray Corn. They moved to Lee’s Summit in 1957. She and Ray married 66 years and raised 6 children.
Virginia was a staunch Catholic. She and her family attend the beautiful St. Mary’s Church which was located on Johnson and 3rd St. This charming county church was the heart of the catholic community in Lee’s Summit. Eventually, a school was built close by. The Corn family was able to walk to church and to the grade school which was established in 1939.
Back in those days, St. Mary’s had an Alter Society. The group was made up of the ladies of the parish. Their responsibly was to clean the church, wash the church linens and maintain all of the religious objects. Virginia was part of that important group. As the church congregation, grew so did the need for a new church. Because there was already a St. Mary’s Church in Independence the new church was named Our Lady of the Presentation.
All through the expansion of the church and the changing times, Virginia stayed involved. The Alter Society grew into several organizations. Virginia is the last living member of the first Alter Society. Virginia went to work at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant which was established in 1941 to manufacture and test small caliber ammunition for the U.S. Army. Ray also worked at the plant.
Throughout her career as a homemaker and an employee of Lake City, Virginia remained a devout Catholic. She is a member of the St. Joseph’s Guild at Our Lady of the Presentation. She is on the entertainment committee for some events at the church. She even dreamed up a takeoff of the movie “Sister Act.” Virginia took on the part of Whoopi Goldberg. I can imagine what a hoot that was.
Virginia’s children are all involved in her life and take good care of her. Here is one of the many things I noticed about her. She is unlike the “Church Lady,” from Saturday Night Live. You know what I mean; the ladies who go to church all of the time and then gossip about everybody when they are not in church. She is loving not sanctimonious, charismatic not judgmental. Above all, she is an absolute joy to know. Happy Birthday to a living treasure of Lee’s Summit. May you have many more.