Another Tragedy from Grandpa’s 1950 Graduating Class

IN MEMORY OF: Bonnie Huffman and LaVerne Sullinger.

The image above is from a “where are they now” type booklet given to those who attended a class reunion in 1990. This was the 40-year reunion for the 1950 graduating class from Delta High School in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. Here is Grandpa’s page (no. 3 cropped out to protect the living):

As was not uncommon at rural, small-town Missouri schools, Grandpa was related to a few of his classmates. Previously, I shared the story of Bonnie Huffman’s murder. She was Grandpa’s 7th cousin-in-law.

Virgie LaVerne Sullinger was more closely related to Grandpa, as she was his third cousin. LaVerne was born 25 January 1933 at Advance, Stoddard County, Missouri. Her parents were Claude E. Sullinger and Maudlue Tidwell.

LaVerne graduated from Delta High School in the Spring of 1950, and within a couple of years was married to George Thomas Reeves (1928-2011). The couple welcomed daughter Rebecca Anne in February 1953.

Five years later, a “tragic series of mishaps” would conclude with the deaths of both LaVerne and Rebecca.

Daily Standard (Sikeston, Missouri)
Monday, 29 September 1958 – pg. 1

Search Fails In Effort To Recover Body Of Girl Drowned Near Allenville
CAPE GIRARDEAU — An unremitting search had failed to recover the body of [5-year-old] Rebecca Ann Reeves, who drowned through a tragic series of mishaps in the diversion channel near Allenville shortly after noon Saturday.

Mr. and Mrs. George Reeves, the parents who live in Cape Girardeau, had gone fishing with their two children and, in some manner, Rebecca fell into the water. The father went to her rescue, got her to the bank where Mrs. Reeves came to help her on land. Mrs. Reeves slipped and also went into the water and all three went under. In the struggle, the girl slipped loose from her father’s grasp.

Mrs. Reeves was given artificial respiration en route to the hospital and was apparently in good shape when she reached there, but today it is reported her condition is critical, mostly due to shock.

— Source:

Daily Standard (Sikeston, Missouri)
Wednesday, 1 October 1958

Mother Of Drowned Girl Died Monday Evening
Mrs. George Reeves, of Cape Girardeau, who was rescued from drowning near Allenville last Saturday, died in a Cape Girardeau hospital Monday night. She had suffered from injuries while being rescued from a drainage ditch and from a subsequent attack of pneumonia.

Her daughter, Rebecca Anne Reeves, who fell into the water at the time her mother did, was drowned and her body was recovered Tuesday half a mile from the point of drowning.

Funeral services for Mrs. Reeves and her daughter were held in Cape Girardeau this afternoon.

— Source:

LaVerne and Rebecca were buried together in Union Park Cemetery at Chaffee, Scott County, Missouri.

— Image by Brenda Johnson (2018) via FindAGrave. Permission for use granted in bio.

May mother and daughter rest in peace.

Visit Virgie LaVerne Sullinger’s page at the Lincecum Lineage database.

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