Finish Strong

Doris Jane Liechty was born August 17, 1928, in Archbold, Ohio, into the Joseph and Emma Liechty family, with two sisters and six brothers. She was the eighth child of nine, which allowed her not to be a “second mother,” and so after high school, she headed off to Goshen College. She majored in Home Economics, and her adventurous spirit took her on a trip with a student group to Europe.


At college, Doris met my dad and soon began a relationship which lead to them getting married on June 16, 1951.


They moved to Indianapolis, and lived in a little post-war house at 3217 West 22nd street. During that time, mom worked as a home demonstration agent, and they went to the little Mennonite Church on Kessler Boulevard.


That is home where I lived my first few years of childhood, and the place my sister Anne and I escaped on our trikes for a long ride along Kessler Boulevard. But mom eventually found us, and did not chide us for the experience.

Then, we moved to Elkhart, Indiana. In our growing years, she took us apple, peach and berry picking, and rewarded us on those evenings with a cobbler or pie from the fruit of our labor. Then there was the pitting, snapping, and peeling of the fruits and vegetables, to can hundreds of glass jars for the winter. Here is mom in front of our house on Myers Avenue.


Mom was a great cook, and always made holidays and birthdays special, with sculptured layer cakes cut into bunnies, dolls and cars. She also sewed clothes for the children, including this matched set for my sisters.


Here is mom joining the fun skiing at Swiss Valley.


Below is the family on a trip to the west coast around 1966.


She taught me how to write backwards, and had us help with cookie decoration, gift wrapping, marzipan making, and the occasional ice cream socials for friends. Many friends and relatives came to our table, including the rather famous Elizabeth Elliot. Here are mom and grandma with five of us.


One summer day when I was twelve, we had a back yard softball game and I was pitching. Mom was a good hitter, and that time, her line drive caught me right in the forehead. It dropped me right over backwards. Later in high school, when I told her that I was not up to the pressure of running cross country in the mornings and doing football practice after school, she understood, and said it would be okay if I did just one of them.

Her adventure on this earth ended early by most measures, at 45 years old. The year of 1973 was a hard one for her, walking through the valley of the shadow of death. She gradually began losing health, weight, and energy for the tasks of life. She did not seem afraid, for the Lord was with her, but the undone responsibility of care for her family must have weighed heavily on her.


Finally, on a Sunday evening in September 1973, we were gathered around her bed, and she boiled down the meaning of her life into a short, quiet statement. “What matters most is your relationship with Jesus Christ.” It was a great legacy, and she was a good mother. She finished strong.


No disrespect is intended in the comparison of a life finished well, to finishing a boat. Actually, the boat reminds me of my mother’s creativity, and I think she would have been proud. She had done some oil paintings, and always rewarded my artistic interests. Here is the boat before paint and varnish.


I had worked very hard on the bottom paint, with less than stellar results, so this time, I had Dave’s Paint and Hot Rod Repair, in Elkhart, Indiana spray on the white side with a red stripe. Here are Dave Shank and his sidekick Kerry.


Regardless of the actual outcome, the boat is looking fast!


Varnish is the coating of choice for wood boats, for its beauty, toughness and water resistance. This does not correlate to easy, especially with no personal experience. I started with two sealer coats of thinned varnish, and had a few more coats sprayed on by Dave and Kerry. Then, I took the boat home where Jon Smucker and Jeff Margush helped me do two more brush painted coats of varnish.


Eventually, enough varnish is enough, and I decided we had enough buildup for a strong finish. The next step is buffing it out to a gleaming luster, and then completing the rigging. There is a light at the end of the tunnel that does not seem to be an oncoming train.

2 thoughts on “Finish Strong

  1. Doris, your mom would be very proud of you! Enjoyed the post, as usual! Incidentally, I’m also proud of you!

  2. I have loved reading about this journey. I have many memories of Doris and being at the Lehman home. They are all good ones.

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