Boy expresses thanks for help when family drowned in 1956

Dowling Kennedy, now 18, was a visitor in Brady Saturday for the first time since April, 1956, when his mother, stepfather and twin sister were drowned in a flash flood at Voca. He stopped here for the definite purpose of expressing his thanks for the help given him and his younger sister, Susan, at the time of the accident. In a letter delivered to the Standard, he wrote: “My sister and I would like to thank the wonderful people of Brady and Voca for their kind and most generous assistance in putting us back on our feet again so we could live our lives again after the tragedy in 1956 on the low-water bridge near Voca. May God bless you all. “Susan and Dowling Kennedy.” Dowling now is a student at San Angelo College, and Susan is in Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas. Only 14 years old at the time, Dowling didn’t remember any of the names of those who helped with the search for his missing family, but he stopped at the service station and asked for the name of the Brady Mayor in 1956. He was given the name of D.A. Harkrider. He talked with Mrs. Harkrider Saturday afternoon, called Joe Ogden, Civil Defense director who headed the search, and then drove down to Voca to the bridge where his stepfather’s car was washed away April 29, 1956. Mrs. Harkrider said, “He’s a fine Christian young man. I just want everyone to know how wonderful he is. He couldn’t say enough to thank everybody, the boys who were diving for the car in the river, and Mr. and Mrs. Roy Spears who opened up their home for him and his sister. “He’s doing well. His uncle is sending him through school, and when he is 21 he will receive Social Security for his mother and father, and then Dowling plans to send Susan to school.” Lost in the tragedy were Mr. and Mrs. W.F. Hale, Sr., and Sharon Kay Kennedy, 14, of San Angelo. Their car drowned cut when it ran into water overflowing the old low-water bridge on the San Saba River at Voca. Susan was carried back to the highway and then had to watch helplessly as the water rose quickly, first sweeping her mother and sister away and then taking Dowling and Mr. Hale. Dowling caught a branch of a tree and held on for more than two hours before he was rescued. Sharon Kay’s body was found the next day, and Mr. Hale’s, four days later. It was three weeks, however, before Mrs. Hale’s body was found, 15-20 miles down the river below the bridge. Hundreds of men worked around the clock searching for the bodies. * * * Melvin farmer has first bale L.C. Hargroves of Melvin apparently has McCulloch County’s first bale of 1959 cotton. Ginned Wednesday at Van Court, it weighted 420 pounds, produced from 1,760 pounds of seed cotton. He said he expects his cotton to make about half a bale to the acre. * * * City golf tourney winding up Sunday Golfers in Brady’s All-City Tournament were headed down the home stretch this week. The finals will be played Sunday with the trophies and prizes being presented at a barbecue supper for the players and their families. In the championship flight the field had been narrowed down to Jerome Wilkerson, Pete Newman, always a winner or near-winner; Paul Huntington, new high school principal at Melvin; and John Curtis of the Soil Conservation Service. Newman defeated the defending champion Freddie Lawrence, 5-4, in the second round. This week the golfers had completed their matches at least up to the semifinals in all three flights. The tournament has had some close matches. Six went to 19 holes, and two went to 20 (Boyd Hunt and Lewis Jordan, one up on 20, and Norman West over Charles Samuelson, one up on 20). Ex Mayor D.A. Harkrider defeated the medalist (Gerald Lemmons with 69) in the first round, one up on 19. B.D. Geeslin fired a four-under par 68 to defeat Kenneth Anderson, one up, in their first round. Anderson had a three-under par 69. Entered in the special women’s flight are ((listed with their qualifying scores) Mrs. M.E. Tittle 102, Mrs. Ernest Barker 125; Mrs. Dave Quinn 117; Mrs. B.A. Hallum 138; Mrs. Dick Winters Jr. 109; Mrs. J.S. King 129; Mrs. George Carrithers 118; and Mrs. K.K. Steffens 139. * * * Lohn News Mrs. Iris Moore is attending the last six weeks of summer school at Texas Tech where she is working toward her master’s degree. She is a member of the school faculty at Andrews. She spent the fist part of the summer with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Grady Moore. Mr. and Mrs. Sam Fullagar went to Brownwood Monday to meet their daughters, Ann and Joan Fullagar and Mrs. Bradford Ellis of Atlanta, Ga., they having arrived by bus. Ann and Joan had spent the past month with their sister and her husband at Atlanta. Mrs. Ed Campbell accompanied Mr. and Mrs. C.L. Bradley of Brady to Abilene on a recent weekend where they visited Mr. and Mrs. Norris Campbell and family. Miss Betty Smith left Sunday for Midland where she will be a member of the school faculty there. Mrs. Ben Ellen Perry of Ft. Worth arrived Tuesday to visit her sister, Mrs. Floyd Smith. Mary Ann Powell of Stephenville spent last week with Mr. and Mrs. D.E. Edwards and family. Joining the group Friday were Mary Ann’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Powell who visited until Tuesday. Mrs. Powell is a sister of Mrs. Edwards. * * * PERSONAL MENTIONS Sisters return home Misses Ann and Joan Fullagar, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Fullagar of Lohn, returned home Monday after a month’s visit in Atlanta, Ga., as guests of their brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Bradford Ellis. * * * Guests of Hickses Mr. and Mrs. C.M. Hicks had as luncheon guests Thursday, Mr. and Mrs. R.R. Roloson and grandson, Mark Roloson, of Los Angelas, Calif. The R.R. Rolosons lived in Brady a number of years ago before moving to the west coast. * * * On Canadian tour Dr. and Mrs. A.R. Hays left Monday for Fort Worth where they will be joined by their niece, Miss Hazel Hays of Houston, and a friend, Mrs. Elizabeth Christopherson of Harlingen. They plan to tour Canada for three weeks and return by way of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, N.Y. * * * Returns to Midland Miss Wilda Faye Samuelson returned to Midland Monday after spending the summer in Brady with her mother, Mrs. Charley Samuelson. Miss Samuelson will teach again this school year in the Midland school system. * * * Get Tech degrees Two Brady men are candidates for degrees at commencement exercises at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Aug. 22. They include Gene Donald Bratton, who will receive a bachelor of science degree in business administration and Vernon E. Dudley, who will receive a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. * * * Visitors from California Mr. and Mrs. Gus Schultz have a as visitors from Torrance, Calif., Mr. and Mrs. Claud Cochran and son Prentice. After a short visit here, Mrs. Schultz accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Cochran to San Augustine for a few days’ visit with another daughter and family, Mr. and Mrs. James Davis Walker, Pearlene and Jimmy, then to Quitman for a visit with Mr. Cochran’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. A.W. Cochran, where other members of the family, Robert, Vivian and Smokey joined them for a family reunion.

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