Elaine Aubyn

Elaine St. Aubyn (Staples) Adkins STOP THE PRESSES

Who? Elaine St. Aubyn Staples Adkins; What? Dead at age 88; Where? Haysville, KS; When? September 18, 2019; Why? Because to everything there is a season; How? Of old age.

With a nod to the basics of good journalism, Elaine Adkins wanted her obituary, her final story, to begin just like that.

Elaine was born the only child of Violet Stith St. Aubyn and Edward J.B. St. Aubyn on August 6, 1931 in Liberal, KS. Her stepfather, Guy W. Staples, became her father upon his adoption of her as an adult.

Guy was a geologist and during Elaine's childhood her family lived in many states. She attended twenty-one different grade schools, three middle schools and three high schools. She was a member of the Liberal (KS) High School, Class of 1949. In 1952, she earned a bachelor's degree in education from Kansas State Teachers College (Emporia State University) in Emporia, KS. (K-S-T-C Forever!)

On November 23, 1951 in Emporia, KS, she married the love of her life, James L. (Lloyd) Adkins, who preceded her in death in 2018. Together they raised two Eagle Scout sons, William Lloyd (Haysville, KS), born in 1959 and David Jay (Lexington, KY), born in 1961. During their sixty-six years of marriage they lived in Emporia, Reading, Perry, OK, Winfield, Valley Center, Elmdale, Chanute, Cottonwood Falls, McPherson, Alma, Wichita, Salina, and Topeka. In retirement, they made their home in Eufaula, OK and then returned to Cottonwood Falls where they built their last home at One Trails End Drive.

Elaine taught high school at Reading and Elmdale, KS. She worked as a proofreader at the Emporia Times newspaper and was a stay at home mom, community volunteer, substitute teacher, census taker, realtor, tax preparer and retail sales clerk at various times in her life.

She was active in her communities, serving as an elementary school room mother, Cub Scout den mother, library board member and chamber of commerce volunteer. As an active PTA member, she championed teachers and public schools.

As an engaged citizen, she supported many candidates for local, state and national office including Bob Dole and her son, David, who was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives and Senate. Although she loved politics, she thought Trump was a "complete horse's ass." "What the hell happened to the Republican Party?" she asked in recent years. She had no patience for charlatans, wingnuts or hypocrites in religion or politics.

She enjoyed writing letters to the editor, and thankfully, had the good sense not to submit most of them.

An ovarian cancer survivor, Elaine had a profound and abiding faith in God. She knew she was saved by grace and often turned to a favorite Bible passage, Psalm 91, for comfort and strength: "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield..." She would hold a turkey feather or walk among the wild flowers and marvel at God's handiwork. She lived her faith by generously supporting many good causes, quietly helping those in need and being an active member of her church.

Elaine was a lifelong bibliophile who loved nothing more than reading a good book or magazine undisturbed.

She hated housework and wondered why anyone would choose to vacuum or dust when there was a perfectly good book waiting to be read. Newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck was her spirit animal. Elaine fortunately married a man who liked to cook.

Elaine, who loved all God's creatures great and small, shared her life with her much beloved cats, Leo, Amber, Cat, Chu Chu, Old Smoke, Blackie, Brissie, Bing, Bitchski, Mac, Finnie, Loupie, Louie, Mama and Little Girl and with her collie, Cindy, and stray dogs, Dog and Ching. She fed a flock of wild turkeys, a few deer, some racoons and a possum or two that passed her way. She thought anyone who was mean to an animal was among the absolute worst of human beings.

With her death, layoffs can be expected at the Vermont Country Store and L.L. Bean.

In addition to her sons, she is survived by William's partner, Brooke Thorstenberg, and David's wife, Lisa Ashner Adkins, a granddaughter, Nell, sisters in law, Carol Cahoone and Jene Ayers Burenheide and several nieces and nephews.

At her request, Elaine will be cremated and her remains will be interred with those of her beloved Lloyd in a private ceremony in the Flint Hills of Kansas at Hillside Cemetery, Toledo, KS.

Among the best ways to honor Elaine's memory would be to show kindness to an animal, feed the birds this winter, read a good book, grab a cup of coffee and chew the fat with a friend, write a letter to the editor (then consider whether you should actually send it), support your local library, call your mother, subscribe to your local newspaper, sit up straight, save your money, campaign for a candidate you believe in, vote in the next election (but not for a horse's ass), buy anything a Boy Scout is selling, send a newspaper clipping to someone, volunteer at your kid's school, don't ever throw out an owner's manual and if something comes with instructions, for God's sake, read them, be patient with anyone using a walker, provide respite to a caregiver, enjoy a glass of wine (unless the bottle was sealed with a cork in which case it's gonna be hard to reinsert that cork so just go ahead and polish off the whole thing), be present enough to see God revealed in the ordinary, everyday things all around us, make a "not to do" list and never doubt the power of prayer.

Her family suggests memorial contributions to the Guy W. Staples Scholarship Fund at the Emporia State University Foundation, 1 Kellogg Circle, Emporia, KS 66801.

Hers was a life well lived with plenty of laughs, lots of good advice offered, many good books read and tons of wonderful memories made, all shared with cherished friends and much-loved animals. She was sustained by an abiding faith in and love for her family, community and God.

When it was time for goodbyes, Elaine would often say, "Be careful, pet your animals for me and tell everybody hi."

So, here's a reminder to be careful, a request to pet your animals for her and, one last time, here's a hearty and heartfelt, "Hi, everybody!" from one helluva gal.

She will see us down the road.



Editor's note: This originally ran in Downing & Lahey Mortuaries, Wichita.

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