Rhea was born September 8, 1892, in Evanston, Illinois, the third child and daughter of my paternal great-grandparents, John Pape (1851-1945) and Gertrude Kramer (1859-1919). The Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index gives her name as Maria, and her baptism record at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Evanston says her baptismal name was Maria Gertrude, but she was better known as Rhea.
In 1914, Rhea appears in the Mason City, Iowa, city directory, rooming at 314 Swasey with her oldest sister Clara. Both are stenographers. While Clara continued to live in Iowa (from at least 1912 to at least 1946), Rhea moved back home to Illinois. She's there at 1043 Sherman in the 1917 Evanston city directory, and also there on the 1920 Census, working as a saleslady in a retail dry goods store (probably her father John's).
By 1922, single, 30-year-old Rhea was involved with a married man five years older, William F. Hunter. Daughter Patricia was born in March 1923. Pat is unnamed on the birth certificate, but an amendment dated May 29, 1942, gives her name as Patricia - and it is signed by her father.
Rhea appears in the 1925 and 1927 Evanston, Illinois, city directories, but with addresses in North Chicago (south of Evanston). She worked as a clerk and saleslady respectively at the Variety and Varsity Dress Shops respectively (although the first spelling may have been a typo). Here's an ad for the Varsity Dress Shop, from the March 1924 Northwestern University Purple Parrot (the dress shop was just south of the campus):
I also found Rhea and Pat in the 1944 Davenport, Iowa, city directory, both living at 1406 Brady. Rhea is working as a saleswoman for Mrs. Sylvia M. Noack (Corset, Lingerie, and Gift Shop). Pat is an operator for Tri-Cities Broadcasting Company - which is owned by the same man, Col. B. J. Palmer, who also owned Central Broadcasting Company / WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa, where Pat worked previous and subsequent years.
By this time, sister Clara was a statistician in the Iowa state auditor's office in Des Moines (she'd been working for the auditor since 1933), and she may have pulled some strings to get Rhea a job as a telephone messenger with the Iowa State Senate (record from January 26, 1944 proceedings):
In 1947, Rhea and Pat are living at 1002 Des Moines in Des Moines (Clara's former address). Rhea is now working for the Iowa State House of Representatives as a general research clerk in the law library (record from January 27, 1947 proceedings):
I found Rhea on an April 1950 passenger list, traveling from Seattle to Yokohama, Japan. I suspect this was to join her daughter Pat, there with her military husband Gordon Parks and expecting the birth of her first child in August. Rhea gives her address as 210 17th, Wilmette, Illinois. (This was her widowed sister Martha Pape Bleidt's address in August 1977).
Rhea, Pat, and granddaughter Kim Parks are on another passenger list in June 1951, returning from Yokohama to San Francisco. Their home address is listed as 3936 Lower Beaver Road in Des Moines, which was Pat and Gordon Parks' address in March 1949.
Rhea was living with Pat and Gordon and their six daughters when Pat was killed in an auto accident in April 1967. The next year, Rhea apparently moved to San Francisco, where she died on August 29, 1977. She is buried at St. Henry's Cemetery in Chicago
© Amanda Pape - 2012 - click here to e-mail me.