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Thanks and Giving: NamesakeThanks and Giving: Namesake

Day 18 of giving thanks…for the kind of folks you want to name your kids after.

Holly Spangler

November 19, 2010

2 Min Read

Remember earlier this week, when I told you about Jenna Louise?

Well, this is Louise.

Louise Efnor will be 92 this month. She swims at the Y. She leads Bible studies at her apartment building. She makes it to our little church in the country nearly every week. She will witness to the power of Christ in her life to anyone who will listen – including a hospital orderly. She volunteered at Faith Bible Camp for something like 40 years or so. Generations of campers still call her Grandma, because of Bible Time with Grandma. She gave my husband the Bible he still uses and, though it's falling apart, refuses to replace.

We are not related to Louise by blood, but by friendship and by love. She and her husband built the house where my family now lives, just a quarter mile or so from my in-laws. For years as a young boy, John trekked across the waterway to hang out with Pete and Louise, his neighbors and adopted grandparents. Then in the early 1990s, Pete came down with cancer. By 1995, they were ready to move to town, closer to family and to the hospital. They sold their place to John, who'd just graduated from U of I. This house and this location, just across the field from their grandparents, has been one of the greater blessings in my young family's life.

When I was pregnant with Jenna, we wanted her to have a name with meaning. We chose Jenna, mostly because I liked it and it reminded me of a sweet little girl I used to ride the bus with. But we chose Louise because it invokes thoughts of a woman with a Godly heritage, who is running the race well and whose life we want to emulate. It's a total side benefit that John can call Jenna "Wheezy." And she loves it. And no, I don't expect that to continue forever.

I will not, ever, forget calling Louise, just hours after Jenna was born, to tell Louise of her name. John sat on the hospital bed with us, and held his cell phone so I could hear, as he shared her name. "Oh," she said. And then, "OH!"  And then she started to cry.

And in the eight years since, Louise has hardly missed the opportunity to come to a birthday party or to introduce Jenna as "my little namesake." We love her so much, and are so grateful for her legacy.

Thanks & Giving Day 20: Cousins

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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