Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Joan Cannon Innes 1927-2018

My heart is very tender.  My last living aunt has passed away.  I want to tell you about Aunt Joan's life.  Joan was my father's youngest sister, and she married my mother's only brother, making her my double aunt.  Joan had a rich and wonderful heritage.

Joan’s father, Collins Telle Cannon, was born in 1888 and studied civil engineering at the University of Utah.  Collins was one of the youngest children born into the large polygamous family of George Q. Cannon. 

Collins’ father, left, served in the First Presidency of the LDS Church and was well-known, probably an understatement.

Joan’s mother was Ida May Burton, born in Ogden in 1894, the fourth of eight children.  

Ida May’s maternal grandparents, William and Charlotte Driver, were very wealthy.  William Driver’s name was almost a household word in several western states, as he owned a chain of prosperous drug stores.  He was also one of the men who worked for Utah statehood and women’s suffrage.

Ida May’s paternal grandfather, William Walton Burton, standing center, had married three sisters, ultimately moving his family to Star Valley to escape persecution from federal marshals.

Aunt Joan’s maternal grandparents were Joseph Fielding Burton and his wife Mary Ann Driver.  Joseph was born in Utah in 1861, the grandson of British converts. Mary Ann celebrated her first birthday on the plains in 1866. 

Joan’s paternal grandmother was Martha Telle Cannon, who lived in Nauvoo as a young child.  Martha is shown here with Betsy, Joan’s oldest sister, who was born in Salt Lake City in 1915.

Joan’s grandfather, George Q. Cannon, posed for this picture in 1868 at the time of his marriage to Martha Telle. Martha was his fourth wife, and George was 61 years old when Joan’s father Collins was born.

Joan was just one of my many aunts, and she also had many aunts.  These are the sisters of her mother.  Ida May is second from the left.

Joan’s aunts and uncles from her father’s side of the family were quite numerous and some were very well-known.  One was a senator, two were apostles, and one served in the presiding bishopric.  Joan was one of the last surviving grandchildren of Apostle George Q. Cannon.  To my knowledge,  only one of Joan's cousins, born about 1930, still lives.

Ida May and Collins, known to me as Nana and Daddy Cannon, married in 1915.  Nana had three children within the next 37 months.

At the end of World War I, Daddy Cannon moved his family from Salt Lake City to Logan where he opened a woolen mill.  Although he had a partner, Grandfather borrowed the money and managed the operation.  At that time, the two youngest children in the family were Dad and his sister Maydae, whose official name was Ida Mae.  They are shown here modeling sweaters and caps for a catalog advertising the mill’s merchandise. 



When Dad showed me this picture many years ago, he told me that for this Christmas in Logan, the main gifts were dolls for everyone.  Even Dad seemed to be in on the experience, although I know he got a train set.  Janet, next to Dad, was born in Logan in 1922.

The family lived very well in Logan.  This picture was taken the Christmas before Joan was born.  When the Great Depression fell upon the United States two years later, Grandfather lost everything, including two cars: one a Buick, the other a Cadillac.  He moved his family back to Salt Lake City where he was able to find a job with the City engineering department designing streets.  He shared the job with another man who also had a family to support.  Daddy Cannon paid off his entire debt to the bank, although it took over twenty years, leaving a legacy for all of us.

Joan was born in the spring of 1927.  Of course, her family completely adored her.


Little Joan was enumerated with her family in 1930, not long after their move to Salt Lake City.

Joan’s family stayed in Salt Lake City for the next decade.  She had a happy childhood with her sisters, all shown here, plus friends (top left) in abundance.

Joan dearly loved her family throughout her life.  As a child, her closest sibling was Janet who was just three years older.

This photograph was taken about 85 years ago, in front of the family’s rented home on D Street.  Snow is on the ground, and Joan is coatless.  Perhaps this was a February like the one we are having this year.

I love seeing Joan with barrettes.  I can easily imagine Nana fussing with Joan’s hair and asking her to sit still.

Joan missed out on the doll-Christmas in Logan, but perhaps this doll carried over from that event.  Knowing now what no one knew at the time, this picture is quite tragic and breaks my heart.  This photo portends the great tragedy Joan would face. 

By 1936, Joan’s two oldest sisters and her only brother had graduated from high school and were out of the house.  

In the mid-1930s, Daddy Cannon took a job with U and I Sugar Company.  At the beginning of World War II, the company moved him from Salt Lake City to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, where he began designing a new sugar plant.  Nana later brought Janet and Joan to South Dakota, although Janet soon returned to Utah to attend college.

Between Joan’s junior and senior year of high school, she moved to Seattle for the summer.  There, she joined forces with hundreds of other young women at the Boeing Aircraft Assembly Plant.  Yes, it’s true!  Aunt Joan was a riveter.  It was a long summer of hard work, but she also made good money.  I am told there was a little bit of romance, too.

At that time, Dad had finished his officer training in California and he and Mom were living in Seattle. Joan lived with them. Mom, a registered nurse, was by this time the mother of a son, Phil, whom Joan adored.

About the time the War ended, Joan and her parents returned to Salt Lake City.

For a time, all of Nana’s children lived near her.  Mom is shown here posing with Nana’s daughters.  Back L-R:  Betsy, Maydae and Mom.  Front:  Janet, and Nana, who appears to have just spoken something sweet to Joan.  It would have been during this period that Joan became better acquainted with Mom’s brother, Reid.

Tom Innes, a dentist, and his wife Mary Grover, a secretary, were grandchildren of pioneers who had settled in southeastern Idaho, and both were born in cabins built by their respective fathers. Reid and my mother were two of six children born to this couple in Garland, Utah. 

Reid was born in 1925, a welcome son following four daughters.  Mom is on the right.  Hazel, called Hattie, is behind Reid.  Gladys, born in 1914, died of pneumonia in 1927.  Barbara, called Bobbie, is on the left.  Marilyn was born five years after this picture was taken.

Grandpa Tom died from heart failure in 1942 and Grandma Mary moved to Salt Lake City in order to secure a job to support herself and her daughter, Marilyn.  On occasion, Joan met Mom at Grandma Mary's, where she became friends with Hattie and her little girl Kay.  Joan often tended Kay and became very attached to her.  As Kay grew older, the family grieved as they watched this adorable little child sicken and die of Cystic Fibrosis.

Reid had served on a battleship in the Pacific.  Near the end of the war, kamikaze pilots attacked. One plane crashed into the ship, causing tremendous damage.  The captain ran the ship aground to prevent its sinking.  Reid lost many friends that day.

Reid and Joan married in 1946.  Their first baby was born the next year.  He was almost two months premature and only lived one day.  They were devastated.

Two years later, Barbara was born.  Joan dearly loved this little girl and sewed all her clothing.  As Barbara grew, she frequently became ill.  To Joan’s horror, she recognized the symptoms Barbara had as the same symptoms which had plagued little Kay.  At that point, Joan knew Barbara was going to die, but all she could do was love her little girl.

This picture was taken at a 1951 family gathering at my parents’ home in Rose Park.  Dad is in the far back, the father of three healthy children.  Mike, being held by Nana, was one of those kids.  Barbara is next to him.  A Cannon cousin, Karen, is on the right.  Uncle Reid is behind her.  Family gatherings usually included Grandma Mary, on the left, and Nana and Daddy Cannon, center, since they shared so many relatives.

Within 11 months in the early 1950s, four of Joan’s sisters-in-law had babies. Joan and Reid also contributed to the family that year, having a son whom they named Tommy. With the family on high alert, everyone watched closely for symptoms of CF in their children. Joan found them in her little Tommy. 

In 1954, five cousins were plunked on Grandma Mary’s couch in Salt Lake City.  Amazingly, we were placed left to right in the order of our births.  Aunt Marilyn was the mother of Tom, far left.  Aunt Bobbie was the mother of Sally.  Aunt Hattie was Ann’s mother, center.  Joan’s Tommy is next.  Joan planned to name her child Julie if he had been a girl.  Instead, I, far right, was given that name when I came along a few months later.  Aunt Joan often reminded me that she gave me my name. 

The occasion of these two photographs was Thanksgiving with the entire Innes family.  Cousin Jane is holding her sister Sally at the front left. Tom stands on the couch with Mike, holding Baby Mary.  Next to him are Susan, Barbara, me, Phil, Tommy and John.  In front of Tommy is Mary Jane holding Baby Sandy, to the right of Ann.

Barbara continued to weaken.  At first glance, this is a cute picture of a darling girl with her grandfather.  However, upon closer inspection, it’s easy to see that Barbara is quite ill and in fact dying from the complications of Cystic Fibrosis.  Tommy died in the summer of 1958.  When Barbara died six weeks later, two entire families, the Cannons and the Inneses, grieved.  For some, the grief never eased.

I still remember Mom leaving us with Dad, as we'd moved to Idaho Falls.  We only had one car, so Mom likely took a bus to Salt Lake for the funerals.  I was very aware that my cousins had died.  I knew everyone was sad.  As the decades passed, children on both sides of the extended families were diagnosed with CF.  Last year I had blood drawn for a DNA test.  Even though my own children had families of their own, I cried when I learned I did not carry either the Innes or the Cannon CF gene mutation.

Portraits of Barbara and Tommy hung in Nana’s living room by the front door for thirty years where everyone saw them as they entered and left the house.  No one ever forgot these children.

After Tommy and Barbara died, Joan and Reid moved to Colorado.  Family members always gathered when they returned to Salt Lake to visit.  This picture was taken on the front steps of Aunt Maydae’s home on L Street in Salt Lake City.  Dad is in the back between Aunt Joan and his mother, Nana.  Mom is standing next to Aunt Maydae.  Mary is behind Mom.  Maydae’s youngest daughter, Laurie, in front with Reid, built a very close bond with Joan, as did many other cousins from both sides of the family.

Three years after Barbara and Tommy's deaths, Daddy Cannon passed away.  Not long after this, Joan dreamed that she saw her father.  In this dream he told her, “I have seen the children, and they are fine.”  This dream brought great peace to Joan.

Mom and Dad visited their widowed mothers often, and frequently our visits coincided Joan and Reid’s visits.  This small gathering took place in the early 1960s.  My arm is around Joan.  Mary is in front of me.  Grandma Mary is next to Nana with Mom on her right.  I don’t remember feeling Joan’s pain about the death of her children when I was with her, but as I look at that picture today, it’s all I can see.

Gatherings continued as the years rolled on.  This picture was taken in 1973, when Grandma Mary, second from the left, turned 85.  On the left is Aunt Marilyn.  Mom is on the other side of her mother, with her left hand on Reid’s shoulder.  Hattie and Bobbie are on the right.  Grandma Mary died in 1980.

After losing their father in 1961, these Cannon siblings lost their oldest sister Betsy in 1979.

As the years passed, Joan became an expert in many things.  She was an especially great cook, but she was also highly skilled in archery.  Her speciality, however, was with fabric and thread, including quilts, knitting and needlepoint.  She has made hundreds upon hundreds of gifts for others.  When I finally had a little girl of my own, Aunt Joan cut out the pieces for a dress, smocked the front, and then sent me the fabric, directing me to sew the dress.  Perhaps you can tell that I had dressed Cori in warm play clothes on this December day, but Cori returned to her room and chose Aunt Joan’s gift to wear over her shirt and pants.

Aunt Marilyn, on the right, gave me a copy of this photograph taken at a family gathering not long after Grandma Mary’s death.  Marilyn put the date of the picture as 1986, but that date is too late, as Mom, left, passed away in 1983.  Aunt Bobbie, center, was the next to pass away at the age of 67, in 1988.  Hattie died in 2000 at age 86.  Marilyn, the youngest child in the family, died in 2010 just a few days shy of her 80th birthday.  Reid outlived them all.

In 1983, the same year my mother died, Nana joined her husband in death.  

In 1998, I traveled to Salt Lake City to celebrate Dad’s 80th birthday, joining many other relatives for this memorable event.  Maybe when Dad was a kid he gave his sisters a hard time, but as adults, they pushed back, and I’m certain the card Joan is handing Dad expressed her true feelings.

Dad was Joan’s next sibling to die.  Reid and Joan came to his funeral, which was held in Salt Lake City in 2003.  My sister-in-law Kay stands with Joan and Reid in this photograph.

Maydae and Joan were close, and Joan took Maydae’s death in 2011 very hard.  Aunt Maydae was a guiding force for good to all of our family.

Joan’s older sister Janet died just a few days before Reid passed away last year, leaving Joan the very last one of her generation in our family.

Last night, Aunt Joan, eight weeks before her 91st birthday, quietly slipped beyond the veil, joining her children, her husband, and countless relatives for a wonderful reunion. Laurie was with Joan during her final days.