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Friday, May 6, 2016

11 children; 36 grandchildren ... Life for Cecilia Orosz ... priceless

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cecilia Orosz Photo by Chris Murphy
Webster's New World Dictionary defines mother as a female parent, but to most of us, a mother means much more.

Cecilia Orosz, 85, mothered 11 of her own children, their friends and others, but she wouldn't have had it any other way.

Cecilia bore children for nearly 20 years. In all, she and her husband, Zolton, had children living in their home for 43 years.

"We've said we've got 10 brothers and sisters but we've got 10 best friends," said daughter Georgia Harris, adding that all of the children actually got along with little sibling rivalry.

Cecilia and "Zolie" Orosz planted their roots here in 1952 with their five children: Mary Ruth, Susan Carol, Joanne Marie, Georgia Catherine and Michael Raymond. Through the years the couple added six more to their family: James Nathaniel, Karen Cecilia, Therese Szerna, John Patrick, Paula Kay and Thomas Lee.

"I don't know (why we moved here)," she said. "God must have brought us here because we didn't use our heads."

The couple learned of the area by looking at an ad in a State Farm catalog while living in Mountain Home, Idaho, after Zolton was discharged from the military, Cecilia said.

When the couple made the trek to the area they looked just at one property -- 530 acres with an old home, a big barn and woven wire fence. It was called the Vance Farm. With the little money the couple had, they purchased the farm and began to put down roots. When the couple moved to the area there were no paved highways around, Cecilia said.

After Cecilia graduated high school in Colorado in 1940, she began doing housework in Denver, Colo., with a friend.

When the war broke out and the men went to war, women were asked to go to work in place of the men.

Cecilia did just that. She packed parachutes and repaired flying gear at a factory in Pueblo, Colo. She met her husband, an airman in the Air Force, while working.

The airmen had to bring in their chutes to be repacked every so often. When Zolton came in, she told him he had the strangest name (first and last) that she had ever heard.

"That name Orosz really puzzles people," Cecilia said.

The couple began dating and became engaged soon after. In the Catholic church at that time, the priest announced the engagement three times. Cecilia's priest couldn't pronounce her betrothed's name.

"He said it was a good Irish name and actually it's Hungarian," she said with a laugh.

The couple met in December 1943 and married in February. Their first child was born late that year.

"I just feel it was orchestrated," Cecilia said. "The good Lord wanted us together."

"He was a very affectionate person, a kind, romantic person and he still is to this day," she said. "He doesn't cook and he doesn't dust. That's the only fault I have with him."

After the couple married, they lived in Pueblo, Colo., until 1945 when they moved to Alaska for more than two years. The couple then moved back to Colorado. This time to Denver. They then moved to Idaho for a year before Zolton got out of the military and moved to Arkansas.

Cecilia said she always wanted to be a mother. She grew up with only a sister around her. Her sister later became a nun.

Her parents lost two children to scarlet fever and her older brother drowned when she was eight years old.

After her brother's death, Cecilia worked on the farm with her father.

"I fixed fences, milked cows ... my sister was a klutz," she said.

Although Cecilia wanted her children to be all boys, that isn't what she got.

"I think God gave me four girls first to be a second mom to the rest of the kids," she said.

Zolton took a construction job in Cherokee Village in the 1960s and later worked for Chuck Holden until he retired after an injury.

While her husband was at work, Cecilia remained quite busy at home with all of the children, chores and household duties. In 1970 she helped with the census. She also did sewing for others from her home.

Although she said her family struggled, she didn't dwell on the negative. The family lived eight years without running water or an indoor toilet.

"At the time, you really don't think about it," she said. "People were very good to us. They knew we had a large family."

The couple never received food stamps except for a brief time in 1974 when Zolton was injured. The couple had too much land to qualify for commodities but they were given the leftover commodities from others.

People gave the family clothing and shoes. The family raised livestock, had a garden and canned food.

"All the kids had to work. That was for sure," she said.

The family grew two acres of cucumbers for two years. The children picked the vegetable despite the groans.

"Whoever's turn it was to babysit the little ones was happy," Cecilia said.

The family also raised broilers (chickens) for two or three years.

"I don't know how Mom and Dad raised us all," Harris said. "They raised us in a way we never knew we were poor. We were always together as a family."

Cecilia's mother moved in with the family in 1979 and remained 13 years before she died.

That time was beneficial for the children, Cecilia said. They learned to respect the elderly and how to play cards.

Cecilia said she and her husband tried to instill important values in their children. They made sure they said please and thank you, knew hard work and would offer to help others in need.

Of the couple's 11 children, 10 are still living. Their son, James, died nearly 10 years ago. Today, two of the girls live in Fayetteville, another girl lives at Norfork, one son lives in Poplar Bluff, Mo., and the remaining children live locally.

The couple also has 36 grandchildren of whom 17 are married bringing the grand total to 53. They also have 31 great- grandchildren and three more expected to make their debut into the world this year.

Their youngest son and their oldest grandson are the same age, Cecilia said. There are three sets of twins among the grandchildren.

Cecilia was a basketball player in school. Her children were also very athletic, as are her grandchildren.

In the late 1950s, the couple began watching local sports and kept on as more and more of their family played. In 1994, the Highland School District recognized the couple as #1 Loyal Rebel Fans and gave them a lifetime pass to ball games.

Although the couple knew no one but each other and their children when they moved to the area, they met people at church.

When the family came to the area, they attended the small catholic mission in Hardy. A priest traveled from Engleberg, near Pocahontas, once a week.

"Sometimes we were half the parish," Cecilia said, adding that the church was often crowded during the summer with vacationers until 1978 when the parish grew. A formal church was then established in Highland called St. Michael's Catholic Church. A full-time priest was then assigned to the church.

Cecilia has been at the church 56 years, longer than all but one member.

"I'm not the oldest but I'm getting there," she said. "We've seen many changes. A number of priests have come and gone."

Cecilia served as director of religious education for more than 13 years securing teachers for the catechism classes. When she began in 1992 there were 60 to 70 children who attended the church.

"That was a fun year for me," she said, adding that there were up to six different classes divided by age.

She was also instrumental in the St. Vincent DePaul Society. The society visits with people in need. She is still in the organization.

Cecilia is an avid quilter. She began quilting just last year and is now in the St. Michael's Piecemakers. She also crochets baby blankets.

Religion has always been large part of Cecilia's life. She even went to the Holy Land about 10 years ago when a friend gave her a free ticket.

"I was a little disappointed," she said. "I guess I expected the manger and there are big churches built all around."

She said although it wasn't what she expected, she wouldn't take her experience back for the world nor can she thank her friend enough for her generosity.

"I was grateful," she said. "She said God thought it would be better for two people to go than one person to go twice."

Cecilia also is a writer. She writes prose and poetry both. She began her art more than 20 years ago.

She often writes tributes to people who have died, pieces for people who are leaving and other needs.

"I just need to know a few basic facts and I can usually weave a story," she said.

Harris said her mother also makes greeting cards for children and grandchildren.

She even writes to an inmate in prison although she uses a different name.

"I stay busy," Cecilia said.

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What a wonderful story of a large family, and being the mother of that family!

My husband and I are the parents of 6 children, and we're expecting our 7th child in the coming months, and we're looking forward to more if the Lord sends them our way. Each is such an incredible gift!

I pray our life story one day bears a similar testimony of the Lord's goodness that I see in yours!

-- Posted by blessedmama on Fri, Jun 6, 2008, at 5:56 PM

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