To Go or Not To Go?
The summer of 2003 in Denver was terrific! No drought (although the Denver Water Department put us on severe rationing and regulation with financial penalties) and no forest fires to dominate our state. The result was: I felt great or as well as I have a right to and we really wanted to go to the reunion. We announced our intention to the family and began preparations for the trip. The reunion was held at the Ronald Reagan Best Western Inn in Dixon Illinois. By the way, if you want to see a larger copy of any of the included pictures, please just click on the picture and return using your browser's "back" button.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Donna was recovering from cataract and lens implant surgery on both her eyes as we made the final preparations for the trip. We made our trip to refill the LOX tank for my van, loaded up the oxygen equipment and headed out on the morning of the 18th, making Des Moines, Iowa on the first evening. We stayed at a great facility called the Wildwood Inn. We had trouble finding a place to eat. They really roll the sidewalks up in the early evenings in Iowa.
Friday, September 19th
We easily made the Ronald Reagan Inn in Dixon the following day. The entire trip was perfect for weather. Not too warm, not too cool -- just right. Only one little spell of rain that started after we got in the car and stopped before we got out of it. We anxiously awaited the arrival of the other out-of-towners who included Lyle and Joyce Burt to our delight. They were traveling in their RV, so resided elsewhere.
The first order of business was to get together and share our new findings regarding the O'Kane family genealogy. This meeting was special because we were joined by two new members of the family that we had never met before: Mike and Mary Ann O'Kane from California who were attending the reunion for the first time. Mike and Mary Ann are descendents of Daniel O'Kane, one of my 2nd great- grandfather's siblings.
The pictures above (top to bottom, left to right) are of Helen (O'Kane) Adams, me, and Joyce Burt; Ray Adams and Mike O'Kane; Mike O'Kane, Lyle Burt and Mary Ann O'Kane; and Mary Ann, Donna and Helen Adams. We all had dinner that first Friday night in Dixon at the Brandywine Inn in the Ronald Reagan. For that dinner, we were joined by Bill and Carol Hey from Springfield, Illinois, shown here with Donna and me.
Saturday, September 20th
The next day, we traveled to Princeton, south of Dixon, to see the sights and look for some replacements for old stemware and dishes that we had. Lyle and Joyce Burt joined us. We didn't have any luck with the pieces we wanted, but had a great time touring none the less. This is an old covered bridge just south of Princeton.
Following an afternoon of touring the area, we went to the Brown Shingle restaurant on the north side of Dixon for Dinner. These reservations were made for us by Jan and Lyle Schryver of Polo, Illinois who were unable to make the reunion due to a health emergency which occurred just as we were all arriving there for our get-together. The restaurant was a great choice. Lyle and Jan were sorely missed. Some of us hadn't been able to make the reunion for the last couple of years and really missed our resident expert on our trips around Polo and Dixon. Lyle was reported on the mend and we certainly hope he is on the way to full recovery now.
Because of Lyle Schryver's illness, we were unable to do our traditional Saturday tour of the area which is really important when we have new family members attending as we did. But, Saturday was wonderful and the visiting was great.
Sunday, September 21st
Sunday, we got another surprise. Traditionally, we normally attend church at the Old Brick United Methodist Church in Polo, Illinois. We were unaware of the church service being moved to the earlier of the two services with Sunday School following. So, we arrived with church in progress. The small congregation was so gracious and delayed their Sunday School start so we could come in and say "hello" to them. They seem like old friends now. Our cousin Phyllis (Phyl) Davis has played the organ at the church for many years.
As you can tell, I am really fond of the church. There are some wonderful feelings about experiencing that much of your really distant past.
The Reunion Dinner
We journeyed in from the church near Polo to the reunion dinner which was held at the Brandywine Inn in the Ronald Reagan Best Western Lodge. They have always done a great job for us and this year was no exception. We had our choice of everything on their standard bill-of-fare and it was great.
Kenneth attended without his wife, Helen, this year. She is having some health problems and was unable to attend. We are all praying for a speedy recovery for Helen who has suffered greatly from shingles and other maladies in recent times. Kenneth is shown here to Jim's left.
Mike and Mary Ann were newly found relatives from the Sacramento, California area. They flew into O'Hare and drove from there to Dixon. It was great to have them there. We are anxious to pool what they know about the Daniel O'Kane branch of the family with the Michael O'Kane branch (mine).
We have a lot of new information from them and they identified some of the people in the pictures that we did not know for sure who they were. We'll look forward to working with them in the future.
Seated at this wing were Bob and Thelma Hedrick. We were all so grateful to get to see them as Bob's health is a real challenge for both of them now. Helen (O'Kane) Adams is next to Thelma and Dick and Nellie O'Kane are on the right side of the table. Nellie is recovering from strokes but was there to our total delight. Her sense of humor is a great addition to any gathering.
There were 17 people at the reunion dinner. The whole crowd is: (left to right, seated) Kenneth O'Kane, James and Maxine O'Kane, Carol and Bill Hey, and Bob Hedrick. Standing in back of them are: (left to right) Lyle and Joyce Burt, Mary Ann and Mike O'Kane, Ron and Donna O'Kane, Nellie and Dick O'Kane, Helen and Ray Adams and Thelma Hedrick.
The direct descendents of the original John O'Kane family are shown here. Seated: Jim O'Kane, Bill Hey and Robert Hedrick. Standing behind them are: Mike O'Kane, Kenneth O'Kane, Ron O'Kane, Dick O'Kane and Helen Adams.
This is one of the nicest people in the entire world. Helen (O'Kane) Adams is the person who found Donna and me and made our attendance at this reunion possible. There are no words that adequately express our gratitude to this remarkable lady for being just the nicest relative a person could ever experience.
Monday, September 22nd
We remained at the Ronald Reagan Inn, but said, "goodbye" to our O'Kane relatives. We journeyed to De Kalb to visit with Chuck and Sharon Watkins and their family. That report is continued on the Heaslet side of this web site, but you can get there by clicking on the icon of the hotel below.