Tribute by: Sarah Beckelheimer
Lylah is my paternal grandmother (Grandma) and is
the epitome of a strong, hardworking, faith-filled
woman. She was very influential in my life. Her life
story is inspirational and an example of how education
and hard work can get you to your goals. Lylah Lavina
Lehmann was born on December 17, 1917 in Minnesota
on a farm. She was born prematurely and because she
was so small, they did not think they would survive.
They gave her the middle name Lavina as kind of a bad
joke. But survive she did, she was born a fighter.
She grew up during the Great Depression and her family
struggled to survive. She was very close to her father and
preferred being outside helping him in the field and with
farm work as opposed to being inside doing housework
Her dream was to be a teacher. So that is exactly what
she did. She was a live-in nanny for a family to earn money
for college. This also gave her a place to stay. She paid
her own way through college and became a certified
classroom teacher. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse
for many years. She taught all the children in grades K-8, including music, P.E. etc.
Her love of teaching did not end when she stopped teaching in the classroom. She continued to tutor students after school in reading for many years during retirement. She charged such a low rate and also gave the children many snacks. She probably lost money tutoring. Her passion was to teach and she lived by example.
I have also always had that passion and she encouraged me to follow that dream. I would go to her house every summer for many years and help teach bible school at her church. I absolutely loved it and looked forward to spending one on one time with her.
Grandma was also very artistic in many ways. We share many of the same interests. She loved photography and capturing memories with pictures. She loved to write and kept journals and wrote down many things she remembered about her life and children and grandchildren.
She also loved to do oil paintings and I remember her always bring "in progress" of at least one painting.
Grandma was an amazing storyteller. She always had stories about her life growing up, and she never tired of sharing them. And yes, she really did walk miles to school through snow in shoes that were so small that she had to cut the ends to allow room for her feet. (Her family didn't have money to buy new pairs of shoes every time the girls' shoe sizes changed.) I loved listening to her stories and even though she retold many of them, I loved how she painted such vivid pictures. I could easily envision exactly what she was describing.
Although music was not something Grandma pursued to my knowledge (it really wasn’t an option in her situation), she always encouraged and supported me in my pursuit of music.
Most of all I remember her love and her stories. Her strength set an amazing example of the kind of woman I wanted to emulate. I dedicate my piano studio to her at the new business we have opened. Thank you Grandma for being so amazing and loving me with everything you were. I will love you always!!!