Elaine Ruth Keniston, 84, passed away peacefully Feb. 27, 2017, after a brief illness. She was born in Liberty on Feb. 9, 1933, to Donald and Zelma Rhodes, the first of eight children.
Elaine grew up in a time when horses and feet were still primary ways of getting around, when “running water” meant you ran down to the spring with a bucket, school was a one-room building, phones were new (and they were all party lines and your phone number was three long rings and two shorts), and being the eldest child meant working alongside your father in the mill if needed, daughter or not. She was “Big Sis” to her siblings all her life, and held that role with dignity and grace and a soft touch. Her family remained close all her life, and all enjoyed gathering together, telling the family stories. Elaine loved butterflies and gardening, cooking, and keeping in touch with her friends and relatives through phone, social media and texting. She was known for her wry sense of humor, her wonderful biscuits made with Bakewell Cream, and her ridiculously delicious cakes and pies.
Elaine worked for many years, first doing home-based day care then doing microscopic parts fabrication, working into her late 70s. Before that, she was married for 27 years to Albert Keniston, raising their three children. Albert was a lifer in the army and did a tour of duty in Korea and three in Vietnam, so she was very much a military wife, becoming very good at packing and setting up a new home every few years. After 1974, when it was just her and her three children, she squeezed pennies until they screamed, was creatively thrifty, did without to keep her beloved farmhouse and keep her children in clothes, and fed her family with her huge and abundant garden. She was a lifelong member of South Liberty Baptist Church, beginning when she was a little girl, teaching Sunday School, working in the nursery, and being involved with the music ministry.
Elaine was predeceased by her parents and her brother David. She is survived by son Dan; two daughters, Michelle, and Lynnette and her husband Darryl; six siblings, Leon Rhodes, Janice Jewett and her late husband Steve, Sandra Paradis and her husband Paul, Shari Ireland and her husband Doug, Gary Rhodes and his wife Hrachik (‘Allo’), David Rhodes’ widow Ruth Rhodes, Mark Rhodes and his wife Kathy; grandchildren Caitlin, Dawn and her husband Ted, Daniela, Jeremy, Brianna and her husband Brendan, Evan, Isaac, Aaron, Collin, Jenna, Toby and Elias; three great-grandchildren Athena, Lydia and Brendan; and dozens of nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews.
The family would like to thank all who provided assistance, well-wishes, positive thoughts, and prayers during her illness; the staff at Riposta Funeral Home; and Elaine’s wonderful friends at South Liberty Baptist Church, for coming alongside in this time. What a wonderful testimony to her life and to all whom her life touched.
Condolences and memories may be expressed and further details about her life may be found online at ripostafh.com.