Penwell Turner Funeral Home - Shelby, Ohio

Elvanor O. (Basham) Straw

Elvanor O. (Basham) Straw, age 82, of 24 High School Avenue, Shelby died early Friday morning, February 18, 2005 at Med Central Shelby Hospital after a period of declining health.

She was born in Akron, Ohio on February 19, 1922, the third child of Cap and Leona Mennen Basham. She had a non-conformist view of the world from the beginning. She and her best friends Ruth and Jim became their own artists colony in school, and eventually went off to college together at Kent State to study art. Her parents were against it, because girls didn’t need much education, or so they thought, and because no well-behaved girl should aspire to be an artist.

Elvanor and Ruth lasted less than a year at Kent State, but only because they had no money for food or heat. Ruth was hospitalized for malnutrition, and Elvanor returned home to the sound of we-told-you-so. Perhaps that helped motivate her even more in her art.

Elvanor met her future husband when she was 16, while a student at Copley High School, when a mutual friend invited her to a Methodist Epworth League meeting in nearby Bath, Ohio. She always claimed to have known they were meant to be together, from the minute she walked into the meeting and saw Norman Straw directing the group in song across the room. They began dating, and even appeared together in the youth group’s stage plays as love interests.

After the year at Kent State, Elvanor entered St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing. At that time, the students were not allowed to be married. But WWII was on, and Norman was called up for duty in the Pacific. Their wedding, planned for the summer after her Nursing graduation, was moved to November 21, 1943, with only three day’s notice. Elvanor went to the Nursing Supervisor in desperation, and was one of the very first to be granted permission to be married. Always the trend setter!

After the War, Elvanor worked as a nurse, supporting the young couple and their toddler, Christine, and putting Norman through college and medical school. By the time they established their lives in Shelby, in 1956, the family had grown to include Gregory and Lorraine. Kenneth arrived shortly after that, and the family was set. Elvanor became fully involved in the community. She was an active member of the First United Methodist Church, starting with Mothers’ Club and the United Methodist Women (UMW). At various points over the next four decades, she held many offices in the UMW, participated in the bell choir, presented programs for Mother’s Day banquets and other events, designed projects to make and sell at church bazaar, created decorations and elaborate costumes for church pageants and the Walk through Bethlehem. She was well known and highly respected for her artistic contributions, as well as her dedication to the spiritual life of the church.

Her other activities included leadership roles in local Scouting, the Shelby Public Health League, the local and county genealogy groups, Malabar Farm Weaver’s Guild, the Mansfield Art Center, and the Shelby Log Cabin. She also was very active in the American Field Service exchange program, both in administrative roles and as host family of two foreign students, Umit from Turkey and Marolyn Sue from New Zealand.

Elvanor’s art was always part of her life. Her talents included spinning, weaving, and\knitting her own wool, sewing and tailoring, painting and pastels, and sculpting. She also was a very creative writer, of both poetry and prose. She and Norman collaborated on many projects, such as when he made a spinning wheel by hand for her to use in her spinning. She was particularly proud of their mutual creation, the children. She encouraged them in a love of music, travel, the arts, and education. They will always appreciate her for her many gifts.

Her children: Dr. Christine L. Straw lives in Fox Point, WI, Dr. Lorraine B. Straw lives in Grand Rapids, MI and Kenneth D. Straw lives in Shelby. Also surviving are her grandchildren, Annalise Katzenberger, Nathan Straw, and Janelle Straw; her brothers, C. Howard Basham of Cincinnati and Leonard Basham of Akron area. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Norman L. Straw in 1999, a son, Dr. Gregory M. Straw, a daughter-in-law, Janet E. (Anderson) Straw and a sister, Rosemary Boughton.

Friends may call on Monday, February 21, 2005 from 2-4 and 6-8 PM at the Turner Funeral Home, 168 West Main Street, Shelby. Funeral services will be on Tuesday at 11:00 AM at the First United Methodist Church in Shelby with Rev. Gail Angel officiating. Burial will be in Oakland Cemetery in Shelby. Memorial expressions may be made to Shelby Home and Public Health or to the Friends of the Log Cabin.

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