Lillian G. Callender

lillian callender

Lillian G. Callender

Levi Callender, my grandfather was born Sept 11, 1839 in Waukon, Ohio. From Allamahas County, he enlisted on October 11 1862 in company F of the 6th Iowa Cavalry. He fought in Two Hills Bad Lands and Little Missouri River in the Dakota Territory on December 17,1862, and The Battle of White Stone Hill, September 3, 1863. Standing just about 5 foot 2 inches, his Cavalry sword was almost as big as he. Levi was mustered out of the service on October 17, 1865 in Sioux City and died October 11, 1914. The flag from his casket was never found and is presumed to be missing in the Capital display in Des Moines.


His wife, my grandmother was Rachel Elizabeth (Millslagle) Callender was born on January 30, 1855 and died Feb 11, 1919 in her sleep. Both grandparents are buried in Steamboat Rock, Iowa.


They had four children, Edith Ella, Arthur Sanford, Leslie Harold, and Carrie Alta. Edith married Bert Penelerick. My father, Leslie wanted to be a doctor working with children and Arthur wanted to be a veterinarian. The two brothers made a pact to help each other through school. However, Arthur died on April 9, 1898 when he was 16. His siblings ordered a pocket watch ordered for his 16th birthday. He never received it. So too went my father’s dreams to be a doctor.


My father, Leslie Harold Callender, was born in Steamboat Rock, Iowa on December 12, 1894. At 16, he was a spikemaller on on the railroad to help support his mother. He was graduated from High School at New Virginia, Iowa in 1916 and was inducted into the Navy 6/1/1918 at Great Lakes Illinois receiving his discharged on September 30, 1921. He was an apprentice seaman training to be a Radio repairman (Sparks) at the U.S. Navy Radio School, Cambridge, Mass


One day, while attending the Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, he saw my mother, Lilie Jörgine Keller behind the cafeteria counter dishing out food and said to a friend in line, “I’m going to marry that girl.” And he did on 12/12/1918 in Cambridge, Mass.


Both my parents were graduated from Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls in 1927 to become teachers. They both got their Masters Degree From Colorado State Teachers College, Greeley Colorado in 1932. My father was working toward his doctor Degree at Iowa State University, Iowa City in 1933.



Both taught together until father went to St Charles. Their careers went something like this:

Dallas county Mining School

Zookspuras principal

Luther as principal Junior high school

Gardner, as principal

West Point as superintendent of schools

Dumont as superintendent of schools

Clutier as superintendent of schools.

St. Charles, Iowa as Superintendent of Schools. At this time, Mother taught at Liberty Center, Iowa some 30 miles away.


Dad was a great disciplinarian. The students loved him for his stories, his humor, his fairness and honesty and his intolerance for using bad language, especially for his daughter. Many times I have heard him say; “If one has to use bad language, one has a poor vocabulary.”


Mother was born November 7, 1893 in Anita, Iowa to Jennie Sonnie and Martin Keller. She was the first of six girls; Lilie Jörgine, Nora Emile, Minnie Christine, Emma Margarete, Martha Eveline, and Anna Marie. She loved languages and could speak five; Danish, French, German, Spanish and of course English.


Mother spent 1937, the last year of my High School in Denver, Colorado because of her health. While there, she attended school and received a license from the State Board of Cosmetology. She went back to Iowa to teach at Liberty Center so her daughter could attend college at Drake University. She spent her later years with me and passed away in October 23, 1984.



Alta was the 4th child of Levi and Rachel Callender, born on August 4, 1886. She married Earnest Millslagle (both of which are buried in Webb Cemetery) they had four sons Donald, Ralph, Earnest and Gerald (called Jerry.) The night Gerald was to graduate from High School, Ralph was taking his mother Alta, and Gerald to the graduation in his coupe. On the way a streetcar did not stop at a stop sign and plowed into the car. Ordinarily aunt Alta sat in the middle but because they were late, she was the last one to get in. Being on the side of the crash she died. Ralph and Donald did live in Des Moines while Earnest and Gerald moved back east as I remember.



Now, as I expect to be buried in Webb Cemetery next to my father, here is a little bit about me. I was born Lillian Guinevere Callender on October 27, 1919 in Des Moines. I was graduated from high school from the St. Charles Consolidated Schools in 1937. My father passed away on 19 March 1939, when I was attending my first year of college at Drake University. I attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas earning a Bachelors of Science degree in 1944.


My work history spans five states beginning with L.E. Ellis & Company and Meredeth Publishing Company in Des Moines; Braille Institute for the Blind, Inc, in Los Angeles, California, GMC Truck and Coach Division in Dallas, Texas; and Mack Trucks, Inc. both in Denver and Kansas City Missouri.


In 1961, Mother and I went on a trip to Israel, Jordan, and Cairo, Egypt. Now that I am retired, I am proof positive that one really gets busy when they retire. For the last 33 years, I have been supporting the Rebecca Mackish Memorial Mission, Inc. in Kansas City, Kansas, an after school program for underprivileged children. I make baby quilts, towels, collecting candy and other items to be used by the mission.


Here in Denver, I have been treasurer for the Inter-Church Fellowship of the Blind, Inc. for the last 31 years. I have volunteered once a week with the Association for Senior Citizens for twelve years and continue to do so today. I also teach Sunday school and to top that all off, I do tailoring for others.


God has been so good to me. I have enjoyed a full satisfying life.  

View current weather.

Memories Timeline


  1. Lillian we love you and will miss you very much. You are a wonderful friend you don't have to go thought anymore pain. We know you are in heaven with all the great saints. said Hi to my dad.

    Love the Miller family

  2. I am deeply sorry to hear about Lillian. During this difficult time, it's comforting to know that one day soon our Sovereign Lord Jehovah will raise our loved ones back to a paradise earth, for he yearns to do this. (Job 14:15) Your family and friends will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. Oh how we will miss your smile and cheerful attitude as you served the blind and sighted people. I called you "Dorcas" Acts 9:39, for all of the gifts, clothing and alterations that you did for us.  Your heavenly reward will be great for as you have done it for the least of these you have been Jesus hands extended. Well done thou good and faithful servant of God.

  4. Lillian, you are an inspiration to us, even in your passing. You touched the lives of so many people and we were fortunate to call you our next door neighbor for 10 years. Your life of service to others and causes near to your heArt are a genuine inspiration. Thank you for quietly but deeply touching our hearts and lives. May you rest in peace.

  5. Please accept my sympathy for the passing on of Ms. Callender.  What a wonderful person she was, from her story!

    I am a relative, daughter of a first cousin of Lillian's.  My father is Gene Sisson, the third child of  Anna Marie Keller, Lillian's mother's youngest sister.  I found this obituary by looking for information on my great grandfather, Martin Emil Keller.  If any family is interested in contacting me by email, please do so.

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle