Monday, December 6, 2010

Moon, Cleo Margaret (Hanthorne)

Cleo Margaret (Hanthorne) Moon

Cleo Margaret Moon was born February 19, 1904 in [Eagle City], Dewey County, in the Oklahoma Territory to William Parker and Emmaretta (Richardson) Hanthorne. She died at Lamoni Nursing and Rehab. Center in Lamoni, Iowa on July 25, 2000.

She was the youngest of eight children. Her next older sister, Ruth, and Cleo helped each other go to college. Cleo attended college in Chickasaw, Oklahoma, with an English degree at the Oklahoma College for Women. She received her M.A. degree at the University of Oklahoma. After teaching in her home state for a while she moved to Lamoni, Iowa and became a high school instructor. There she taught high school English, acted as librarian, directed plays, and taught hand sewing.

Cleo arrived in Lamoni by train and spent her first night in the home of Mrs. Lou Blair on 10th street. She later roomed there. For several years Cleo's mother lived with her in what is known as the Gold house in west Lamoni. Cleo's mother said that those years were the happiest in her life. She was active in the Mite Society, a group of women who quilted together one day a week.

Cleo held a B.S. in Library Science from Columbia University in New York City. She became librarian at Graceland College transforming a meager collection of books into a viable academic library. She was instrumental in planning the Fredrick Madison Smith Library building and presided over the human chain that moved thousands of volumes from the second floor of Briggs Hall to the new library. For twenty-three years she held the position of librarian at Graceland. Even after retirement she continued to make frequent walking trips to Graceland and the library where she worked on a part time basis.

During the Christmas season in 1944 Cleo married Willard Charles Moon and left Graceland in the spring of that year. During a period of twelve years she lived an activity-filled life in which, among other things, she involved herself in the business of raising and selling parakeets. When she gave up the parakeet business a short time before returning to Graceland she started selling Frankoma pottery. She was asked several times during those twelve years to return to the college but she said she was not yet ready. She was enjoying herself, and it was not until she felt a need for cultural association that she returned in 1956 as a teacher of Creative Writing and Cataloger for the library.

Cleo and Willard made their home on North Walnut Street across from what is now the elementary school building. Later they moved to an apartment building, created by Willard, and decorated by Cleo, at the corner of Main Street and Walnut. The attractive decor was brought to the attention of the Des Moines Register and was featured in the Sunday newspaper. Her husband bought her a shop adjoining their home where she sold pottery and other gift items, including pottery from student artists at Graceland College.

Cleo became best known as a poet. She was a primary contributor to the body of Graceland poetry. A collection, "The Bell Tower's Eye" was published and many of these same poems were reprinted in the volume, "Threads of Blue and Gold" commermorating Graceland's first 100 years. Her close observation of human experience, her understanding of human emotion, and her sensitivity for language served as a catalyst for her poetic gift. Many of Cleo's inspirational poems have been set to music as hymns of the RLDS Church or as Graceland standards. Several of the finest hymns in "Hymns of the Saints" articulate her profound religious vision and have inspired the hundreds who have sung them. A residence house for Graceland women, Hanthorne House, has been named in her honor. She was named poet laureate of Graceland, and conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Her memorable words, which themselves have become an important part of Graceland's heritage and tradition, have embodied the thoughts of all of those who, through the years, have built on Graceland's hill.

Preceding her in death were her father in 1917; mother in 1941; four sisters; three brothers; and her husband, Willard, on April 12, 1995.

In her last years Cleo made her home at the Lamoni Nursing and Rehab. Center. She is survived by Willard's daughter, Sadi Negaard and husband, Leland, of Independence, Missouri, and their family: Doris Negaard, Kristen Negaard, Kerri Wade and husband, Eric, one great grandchild, Brooke; nephews, Dale Moon and wife, Frances of Lamoni and Donald Conkling of Dorchester, Nebraska; niece Wanda Bain and husband, Harold, of Climax Springs, Missouri; great great niece, Muriel Crownover of Santa Rosa, California; special friends, Clara Morrell and Marie Hawley both of Lamoni; plus many members of the Graceland alumni family who hold her memory and contributions in affectionate regard.
(Source: Written by Sadi (Moon) Negaard - furnished by Muriel Crownover)

Cleo Margaret (Hanthorne) Moon
Born: February 19, 1904, Eagle City, Oklahoma Territory
Died: July 25, 2000, Lamoni, Iowa
Funeral Service: Slade-O'Donnell Funeral Home, Lamoni, Iowa
Date and Time: July 29, 2000, 10:00 a.m.
Officiating: Evangelist Les Gardner and High Priest Barbara Higdon
Organist: Richard Clothier
Soloist: Alma Blair, "Help Us Express Your Love, Oh Lord," lyrics by Cleo Moon
Bearers: Hale Collins, Bruce Graybill, Jerry Hampton, Marie Hawley, Robert Johnson, Dale Moon
Honorary Bearers: Christy Christenson, Delmar Goode, Leslie Kohlman
Interment: Rose Hill Cemetery, Lamoni, Iowa

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