By KEN CARPENTER
Great Bend Post
The story of Elgie Unruh, a man who lived his entire life in Pawnee Rock, is chronicled in a new book by his daughter, writer and columnist Cheryl Unruh. The book entitled Gravedigger's Daughter is composed of short vignettes that capture some of the flavor of Elgie's 85 years in the small Barton County town. Cheryl said her father had a weird and wonderful personality.
"I always wanted to write a book about my dad,” Cheryl noted. “He was an interesting person. He had a lot of jobs around town. I guess the most interesting job was his work in the cemetery. He dug graves by hand for maybe about 20 years. He was a school bus driver. He was a carpenter in town. He was a substitute rural mail carrier. So he had a lot of things going on, and I tagged along with him when I was a kid.”
Cheryl grew up in Pawnee Rock in the 1960s and 70's when the population was about 400 people. She has happy memories of that time.
"When you’re a little kid and you’re surrounded by friends and family in the community that’s generally caring about you, it’s a great place,” Cheryl remembered. “When we still had the high school which was closed in 1972, there was a lot, maybe not a lot going on, but there was stuff going on with the school. It was a good community for a kid to grow up in.”
A copy of Gravedigger's Daughter can be purchased directly from Meadowlark Press. You can order the book by clicking HERE. It is also available for purchase at the Barton County Historical Society.
Cheryl attended Barton Community College for one year before transferring to the University of Kansas. Currently a resident of Emporia, she was a columnist for the Emporia Gazette for 11 years. She has written two other essay books, Flyover People and Waiting on the Sky that can be purchased at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center.