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Letha Virginia Sormanti

August 26, 2018

 

Letha was born on March 18,1925 in Ogden, Ks to Hazel Katherine (Allen) Anderson and Hallie Earl Anderson. She was their second child, their first being her older sister, Lois  (Prince). She also has three younger brothers, Ernest  Anderson,(Lou) Earl A. Anderson and Ronald Anderson  and a younger sister, Sharon K. Sigman (John). 

Letha lived her early life in Ogden and Manhattan, but moved to a few smaller towns in Kansas as her Father's work for the Union Pacific Railroad required. One memory she often shared was her dislike of yellow houses "because the railroad houses they lived in were always yellow". That was almost the only negative comment she ever made about growing up during a time when school meant attending a one room schoolhouse, houses didn't have indoor bathrooms and the challenge of making the trek out to the outhouse in rainy, snowy and cold weather, (and the tricks and pranks they would pull on various occupants of the outhouse), tending, planting and reaping all kinds of produce from theirs (and sometimes her Grandafather's) large gardens and fruit trees, tending chickens, geese, cows, goats, horses, a donkey or two and various other animals from time to time as her Father may have "gotten in a good trade" .  One favorite school lesson  she mentioned frequently and reaped the benefit from the rest of her life was her Math teacher's practice of bringing a radio into the classroom so they could  listen to the World Series. Their lesson was the requirement to keep the box scores of all of the games.  She continued to love baseball the rest of her life and when she sat in her blue recliner, sometimes wearing her Royals jersey, drinking her tea or water out of her Royals cup, she'd always keep the game's box score. (The box score of the last Royals game she watched still sits on the table by her chair). 

She graduated from high school early and when World War II broke out she worked at Fort Riley in the Signal Corps. One of her jobs was to deliver messages throughout the base, so she learned to ride a Harley motorcycle, which was an experience she liked to tell her Grandchildren about!  

During the war, her older sister, Lois was working and living in Kansas City, so Letha would take the train some weekends to visit. One weekend, she was introduced by her sister's boyfriend to a couple of his acquaintances, Navy cadets stationed at the Olathe Naval Air station. One of the cadets, Raymond C. Sormanti, was immediately attracted to this vivacious young women (whose nickname was "Jinx") and he decided he wanted to to try and become  better acquainted with her so he asked her sister Lois, if she would tell him the next time Letha was going to be in town. A couple of weekends later, when Letha was in town and out on a double date with her sister,Cadet Sormanti just happened to show up at the skating rink, where they all met and enjoyed the evening as a group. Another weekend, Letha was surprised (and secretly pleased) to find Cadet Sormanti with a couple of friends sitting directly behind Letha and her date at the local movie theater. It was just a matter of weeks when she was seeing Lieutenant (j.g.) Ray Sormanti when she visited Kansas City. They had found the loves of their lives and wrote to each other daily when Ray was deployed to the Pacific Theater. After the war, when Ray was discharged in Pensacola, Florida, Letha took a train to Florida where they were immediately married in 1945. They were married for 61 years until Ray's death in 2006. 

Like many young married postwar couples.it wasn't long before Ray and Letha began their family: Raymond C. Sormanti, Jr. and Linda Johns(Marvin) were born within a few years and they settled in Kansas City, Kansas. A decade passed when they expanded their family and Debra Self (Phil) was born, followed a few years later by Joan and finally Michael . Letha assisted her husband in his construction business, doing the office correspondence and company bookkeeping.   While her children were still small, Ray introduced Letha to Golf, a sport he had played since he was a child in Rhode Island. Ray was an avid  and very good golfer, so after a brief time, they joined Victory Hills golf club where Letha discovered the next great passion of her life, Golf. She became an avid golfer herself, immersing herself in the sport, regularly playing in tournaments and then becoming very involved  with the KWGA (Kansas Women's Golf Association) by serving as its Handicap chairman for several years and also its Tournament Chairman for several years. Evenings were often spent discussing golf matches, rules and other sporting details with Ray and they enjoyed an active social life with all of their golfing friends. 

When all of their youngest children were in high school, Letha, like many of her contemporaries decided she was going to get a job. She loved music all of her life and had a small but impressive record collection so she went to Indian Springs Mall and worked for Musicland for a number of years in the 1970's-a job she enjoyed immensely. While working in the Mall she became fascinated with an engraving store that was located right by Musicland. Over time she became acquainted with the Manager, who eventually offered Letha a job where she would learn how to become an engraver. Letha jumped at the opportunity and discovered another passion in her life-engraving. She worked at the store for several years, steadily promoting to Assistant Manager and then Store Manager. When one of the engraving supplier representatives mentioned the owners of the engraving store at Oak Park Mall were retiring and wanted to sell their business, Letha and Ray decided to buy the store and Lea's Engraving was established at Oak Park Mall. They owned the store for 13 years before Letha retired and closed the store. 

Shortly after Letha retired she had more time to research the family genealogy-a hobby she had begun in the 1960's. She shared this hobby with her daughter, Joan, and they made many trips to various towns in Kansas, tracking down birth, death and marriage records, visiting graveyard sand memorials, museums, archives, and libraries. One day at the local library, Joan introduced Letha to research via the Internet-something Letha had never done. In a few minutes, they were able to locate a record of Letha's Great Grandfather's Civil War record -and another passion was ignited. Within a few days after leaving the library,Letha had a computer and was enrolled in basic Adult Education computer classes. She expanded her knowledge  and computer abilities rapidly and was quite proud she had a Facebook page before any of her children- something that stunned her grandchildren when they received a "Friend Request" from their Grandmother! 

Throughout her life, Letha loved to travel, but Ray, who traveled while in the Navy as not so fond of travel. So he would tell her "To Go" and several times she packed  up her youngest two children , Joan and Mike and drove cross country to Rhode Island to visit Ray's family. After about a month, Ray would fly out and join her and the kids and then drive back to Kansas. She always had a varied and interesting itinerary and one of her greatest thrills was driving her 1970 Chrysler Imperial  around the actual Indianapolis 500 race track. 

She also had many opportunities to visit Colorado and the Ozarks with Linda and Debbie and their families as well as trips  with her sister and her children. After Letha retired she regularly went on road trips around Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri with her daughter, Joan , and also cross country trips from Kansas to California. She also enjoyed several trips to California and Las Vegas, as well as Hawaii and a cruise to Alaska where they also visited Vancouver, a city she had longed to visit for many years. Her travels slowed down a little in her late Eighties but she still enjoyed trips to Mount Rushmore and Arkansas and Minnesota. 

During these busy years, children were married and Granchildren were born  Jeffrey Johns  (Tanya) and Denise Daicy (Angela) followed a decade later by Alesia Hansen (Justin) Nicholas Self (Blair) and Christina Self Ruth. Years passed and Great Grandchildren arrived: Tevin Schweiger, Whitney Schweiger, Jack Conley, Jefferson Johns, Oliver Hansen and Claire Hansen. 

Throughout her life she enjoyed reading and was a prodigious reader. A few days before her death, she went to the local library  where she selected her usual 13-15 books- as she would read a book a day. It was a passion she and Ray shared and a lifelong habit they passed on to their children. .

The family will receive friends, 9:30- 11:00 Am, Friday, August 31. 2018, followed with the Rosary 11:00 A.M. and prayer service 11:30 A.M. at the  Mary Butler Meyers Funeral Home, 6300 Parallel Pkwy, Kansas City, KS.   


Donations may be made to:

Christ the King Catholic Church
3027 North 54th, Kansas City KS 66104


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