About this blog

As the author of this blog, Karen L Garner Martin Messick, I am the daughter of an American soldier, Wilbur (Bill) C. Garner, Sr. and Women's Royal English Navy service woman (British Wren) Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins, who met and married during World War II. They lived and loved for over 50 years before Mother passed in 2000. When she did I helped Dad with every day chores when I could. One day I was helping him clear things out and I lifted a plastic bag out of the seat of Mom's piano stool, asking Dad, "Whats in this bag?" to which he replied, "Just some of Mary's old letters." Mary, his older sister, was still alive at the time, residing in an assisted living facility, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I put the letters back in the piano seat thinking he did not want me to open the letters.
When Dad passed two years later, I inherited Mary's letters.
When I began to read them, I found they were mostly letters from Dad to Mary while he was in World War II ("The War"). I could not put them down. I wished I had opened them the day I first saw them so that Dad and I could have had conversations about them, but that was not to be...so as I read through these "Letters to Mary" I began to get a glimpse into Dad's young years when he met Mom and his time as a soldier. I have researched events during World War II to enhance my understanding of what was happening in the war as each letter came to broaden my understanding of what he might have been experiencing. I knew he landed on the beaches of Normandy, France D-Day plus 1 as he recounted his memory of that day to me when he was dying from Leukemia. It was horrifying. There were also letters from a companion Mary had met while in Minneapolis, he had been deployed overseas. I have entwined them chronologically with Dad's letters as it gives a greater dimension to the war itself. I intend to editorialize as necessary to explain personal relationships and situations as the story unfolds through the "Letters to Mary." I welcome any questions, comments and feedback. As the "Greatest Generation" fades away, I felt compelled to share these letters and story in hopes of continuing the legacy they left for the world. Let us never forget the untold years and lives that were sacrificed for freedom!
If you have stumbled upon this blog I have added a blog archive at the bottom of the blog page. Continue to scroll down to access the Blog Archive. The posts are chronologically listed and to follow the story it is best to start with the first post in December 2013.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Joseph Randolph Garner life after "The War"

Joseph Randolph Garner
Joe, one of Bill's older brothers, who was mentioned in Bill's "Letters To Mary" was always in trouble. Having been dishonorably discharged from both the United States Marines and The United States Army: he just could not fit in.
After the war in 1945, he set up residence in the state of Florida. He resided in St. Petersburg and was estranged from the family until late in life. He was absent in family gathering photos.
Garner Family 1949 (Absent Joe Randolph Garner)
From Left to right standing back row: Bernard Shelbourne Garner, Jane Durding Garner,
Souil William Garner, Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins Garner, Jessie Mae Kimpton,
Harriett Kimpton Garner, Mary Willis Garner, Wilbur Cecil Garner.
1st seated woman Eva May Stansbury Kimpton, Seated 2nd from left Phoebe Emma Biggs Garner, 3 rd from left, Kate Hudman Wilkins, 4th from left Anna Catherine Durding,  Boy on man's lap, Bernard Shelbourne Garner, Jr, and man Benjamin Francis Durding, Man in chair, Souil Wade Garner, holding Wilbur Cecil Garner Jr. and Carol Ann Garner
 He took random jobs such as driving taxi cabs and school buses. There are no pictures of Joe in either of his military uniforms from his "service" in the Marines or The Army Reserve. His service in the The Army was represented on his Mothers Service Star Flag.

Joe fathered one child from his marriage with Alice Barham Garner, Joseph Randolph Garner, Jr.
His wife Alice Barham Garner divorced, remarried and moved away to Massachusetts. Her second husband with the sir name of Rushton, adopted Joseph Randolph Garner Jr. and he assumed the last name of Rushton. Joseph Randolph Garner Rushton fathered three children.

Joeseph Randall Garner, Sr. passed away in 1993 at the age of 81 and was laid to rest next to his parents in the Garner family burial plot in Druid Ridge Cemetery, Baltimore, Md.

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