Mary Elizabeth Wallace, of rural Burlington, Wisconsin, died at her home on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at the age of 100.
Always known as Elizabeth (and to younger generations, “Grandma Beth”), she was born October 15, 1912, in Genesee, Wisconsin, the daughter of Robert P. Claybaugh and Marion (Holloway) Claybaugh. After attending Teacher’s College in Union Grove as a teenager, Elizabeth taught in one-room country schoolhouses for several years, starting the fire each morning in the wood-burning stove, organizing school plays and programs, and participating fully in the life of the community. She met her future husband while teaching his younger sister in Paris Corners, Wisconsin.
She married John Thomas Wallace on August 21, 1937 in the Congregational Church of Union Grove, Wisconsin, where they raised a family of seven children, moving from Union Grove in 1957 to a 60-acre farm in Spring Prairie Township. In 1963, part of the property became Meadowlark Acres Family Campground, which Elizabeth operated with Tom (a plastering contractor) until his death in 2003. During those years Elizabeth also returned to teaching for seven years at Denison School in Lake Geneva, teaching 7th grade reading classes. As the always-cheerful and congenial hostess at Meadowlark Acres, Elizabeth made hundreds of friends and won a devoted following by making “Hole-In-One” doughnuts on weekends for hungry campers of all ages. She and Tom were founding members of the non-denominational Faith Chapel, now an Evangelical Free Church located in Burlington. On her 100th birthday, October 15th, 2012, Elizabeth Claybaugh Wallace was recognized as the oldest resident of Spring Prairie Township.
She is survived by five sons; Joseph (Joyce) of Burlington, Ralph (Gloria) of Delavan, Robin (Pamela) of Waukesha, Tim (Patricia) of River Edge, New Jersey, and Carl (Darcy) of Elkhorn; and one daughter, Yvonne Wallace Blane (Steven) of Lake Geneva; a daughter-in-law, Mary Catherine of East Troy; 16 grandchildren, 39 great-grandchildren, and a sister-in-law, Ruth Phelps, of Eagle Point, Oregon. She was preceded in death by her husband, John Thomas Wallace, and their oldest son, Daniel; and her four brothers, Robert, Stanley, Ralph and Amos.
A memorial open house reunion for family and friends is being planned for Mother’s Day weekend in May, when the ashes of both Mary Elizabeth and John Thomas will be scattered on their beloved Meadowlark Acres Memorial Ridge, a place of solace and remembrance for many since 2004.