Member Spotlight, Vesta Ryan

 Member Spotlight

July 16, 2017

Vesta Ryan

By Robin McKinley

On a snowy January 23, in Wier, Texas, a baby girl was born.  She didn’t breathe, so the doctor sent the grandmother to get hot water and cold water.  She gathered snow in a pan for the cold, and filled another with the hot water.  The doctor alternated the baby’s feet from cold to hot and back again.  Finally, the baby gasped, and began to breathe.  Thank you, Lord, for the life of Vesta Ryan.  And Vesta has always believed that God let her live because He had a purpose for her.  The FUMC of Taylor knows that to be true.
Christened Vestadel, as a combination of her father and her mother’s name, Vesta chose to shorten her name when she learned in school that Vesta was the name of a goddess.
To get married, Vesta’s parents had to go to Georgetown to get a marriage license.  Her mother and father went by a Pastor Abbott’s house on the way to Georgetown.  “Can you marry us?”  The preacher said yes.  His children were running around snotty nosed, rumpled, and dirty.  Her mother thought, “Oh my goodness, those children are going to be at my wedding.”  To her surprise, when they returned from Georgetown, the children were all spic and span and dressed in their Sunday clothes.  But when her mother and father arrived, her mother literally had cold feet.  “I can’t get married with cold feet,” she said.  So, the preacher’s wife warmed a pan of water and her mother put her feet in, and then the marriage could proceed.  The preacher’s wife stood for them.
Her daddy was a master carpenter and many of the cabinets and bookcases in Taylor homes today were built by her daddy.  Vesta remembers, “He was a little bitty pipsqueak and red-headed.” 
During World War II, Vesta’s father and mother worked in the ship yards in Orange, Texas.  Her mother worked as an electrician wiring ships and her father did carpentry.  Her mother and father worked on two of the same ships.  When it came time for those two ships to be launched, Vesta, aged 10 or 11, was invited to see the launch. She still remembers vividly that one of the ships was launched straight out, but the other was launched on its side.  To get the ship into the water, men carried stalks of bananas for the ship to slide on, and the boat slide sideways into the water.

While in the fourth grade in Orange, Vesta got her first calling.  One of the girls in the school had her leg ripped open because a loose screw cut her as she slid down the playground’s metal slide.  Because she wanted to help, Vesta thought, “Oh God, I want to be a nurse.”
After the war ended, and the end of the school year in Orange ended, the family moved to Taylor in ’46, and Vesta started her freshman year at Taylor High.  About that time, her mother decided she wanted to be a nurse, and so while Vesta went to school, her mother did too.  She passed her boards Vesta’s sophomore year.  Taylor kids loved Vesta’s mother.  “My kids don’t cry when she gives a shot,” her patients’ mothers said.
In 1950, Vesta graduated 13th in a class of 68 from Taylor High having won several awards in school.  Her senior year she was voted Miss THS by the students.  She was an A student except, she admits, for English 4 where she could never get over an 89.  She was also the high school’s representative at Girls’ State. 
When she first moved to Taylor, her family went to First Christian Church.  She later met Edward in Sunday School.  The first time they met he had a patch on his face.  He had been in the war, but this injury was from a wreck in his car.  He drove down the street by the hospital, and a piece of lumber with no flag caught his face.  Blood streaming down his face, he got out of his car and went into the hospital.  Later he would remark on how convenient that was.
Edward and she were in the choir and Sunday School together.  They would go to church, come home and eat with Mother and Daddy, then later go to night church. 
For a while, Edward quit coming to see her.  Vesta remembered Edward saying he didn’t like seeing girls go to town with a bandana covering curlers in their hair.  One day, her grandmother asked her to go get a spool of pink thread.  Vesta took off down the street hairs in curlers topped with a bandana, and long pants. Who would she run into but Edward?
About that time, Vesta was working a summer job at a department store selling men’s socks.  Edward came in, saying he needed socks, but he asked Vesta for a date.  “I already have a date,” said Vesta.  “Well, how about Saturday?”  “No, I’m busy.”  “Okay, then, will you go to Sunday evening service with me?” Having asked 3 times, Vesta finally said yes.  The rest, as they say, is history.
On December 3, Edward asked Vesta to marry him.  “You don’t have to give an answer today,” he said.  Vesta was ready to say yes, but he said, “No, think it over.”   Two days later, they went for hamburgers, and he asked if Vesta had an answer.  She said yes.  Neither of them could eat so they gave their hamburgers to a dog hanging around the cafe.  Edward gave Vesta an engagement ring for Christmas.
Edward and Vesta got married on Monday morning at 7 a.m. on June 26, 1950, one month after she graduated from high school.  They didn’t want to get married on Saturday night because they would miss church on Sunday.  So, they married early Monday morning.  The church, which held 200, was full.  The congregation dressed in their work clothes so they could head on to work after the ceremony.  Edward’s folks said goodbye, and the newlyweds went to her mother and daddy’s to say goodbye.  Her daddy was eating a bowl of cereal, so she sat down and ate a bowl of cereal with him.  They were heading to Carlsbad, but they stopped in Pecos.  She put her orchid on the car and forgot, so she lost it as they drove away.
Edward had bought a home, and Vesta’s mother and her 5 sisters secretly prepared the home for them while they were on their honeymoon.  The men moved in the furniture, and the women settled everything else in.  When they returned home, everything was in its place, even down to flowers on the coffee table.  The water and gas were connected, thanks to Edward’s aunt who paid for the connections. 
Edward worked in the funeral home, and Vesta worked at the bank for 32 years.  She did almost every job at the bank, and most of all, she loved teller work. 
Vesta’s third calling was to be a teacher.  So, she wanted to be a missionary, a nurse and a teacher, and she came to be all three.  She taught her kids both at home and at church, and taught dozens of other kids and adults in Sunday School, as well as substitute teaching for a couple of years after she retired.  She served as a nurse to her kids as well as many others, serving as camp nurse at church camp for every year her children went.  And in 2015, she was able to join a missionary trip to Uganda.
Vesta has three children, six grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. Her youngest granddaughter is getting married this weekend.

Another of Vesta’s talents is sewing.  Her grandmother sewed, and Vesta would sit by her side and watch her.  Vesta made all her going away clothes, and she sewed for children.  Later, someone at the bank said, “My daughter’s getting married.  Could you make the bridesmaids dresses?”  Vesta agreed and made six dresses.  So that started it all.  She never advertised or asked for work, but she has been kept busy with prom dresses and wedding dresses ever since.  “I love it,” says Vesta.  “I feel like I’m part of their families.”
Vesta has been a member of Taylor FUMC since 1983.  The preacher, Mark Childress, was most welcoming to them, and she has been a faithful member ever since.  “I like the church because it is my family.”  Her own family is far away – Gary is in Ft. Wroth, Diana is in Indiana, and Donna will be in Chad.  Vesta’s favorite hymns are “It is Well with My Soul,” “In the Garden,” and “Eagle’s Wings.”

This writer could tell you so much more about Vesta, and has left so many things out.  You will have to go talk to her and find out more about this precious gift of God who graces our church with her presence.

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