Celebrating Winnie Theobald

Winnie - 2016
Winnie & Charles - 1946
Celebrating Charles' Release from the Service at the
Hawaiian Room in Elizabeth, NJ
The "Pose"
Winnie and Her Four Children
(Charles, Eileen, Lorna & Stephen)
Winnie with Her Grandchildren
Winnie with Her
Great Grandchildren
Winnie & Allan
Winnie the Red Hat Lady

Celebrating Winnie Theobald

July 17, 1926 -- December 26, 2020

By Kae Mattingly

(This celebration was originally published in Sept 2018)


The woman we celebrate this month compares her early years as like the book, Little House on the Prairie, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  She never learned to drive a car, but that didn’t stop her from doing what she wanted to do.  She became a U.S. citizen in 1959.  She is also a cancer survivor.  This month we celebrate Winnie Theobold.

Winifred Stratton was born on July 17, 1926, to Steven and Ellen Jane Stratton.  She was born in Newfoundland (when it was under English rule), in the little village of Badgers Quay, in Bona Vista Bay.  She was the fifth born of eight children.  Her dad was a fisherman, and would be gone at sea for three months at a time.  He was missing the children and felt  like his wife could use the extra help at home.  He then became a manager in a lumber camp.  He cut wood and ran the paper mill.  Her mother was a housewife.  Looking back to the early years, her life was like living in that little house on the prairie.  They raised all their vegetables in the garden, delighted in homemade breads, cakes and pies, and fished from the sea for dinner (not like the prairie).and enjoyed pickled corn beef.  Their clothes were handmade, and because of the large family, hand me downs were pretty common.  The radio was used only for listening to the news.  There was no inside plumbing, and even worse, no toys.  Winnie did have a wooden doll that her brother made.  She shared it with her sisters.  They sewed clothes for the doll.  When Winnie was six years old her mother died.  Francis, age 13, took over as mother and home maker.  Everyone got along.  Her father was very loving and giving.  Everyone in the village became their mother.  They grew up with very little, but had much love.

At the age of seven, Winnie started school.  St. Albans School was a large building divided into two halves. On one side were grades K-6, and the other side 7-12. Winnie participated in plays during her elementary years.   She graduated from 8th grade.

Winnie, as a child, was a God-fearing Christian.  She was raised in the Methodist Church, attending every Sunday with her father.  Her mother attended the Church of England.  At the age of 13, Hilda, a friend of Winnie at the time, invited her to visit her church.  While attending that church, Winnie felt like she spiritually fit in.  Her father said it was fine to go there as long as she went every Sunday.  On Good Friday she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

After graduation Winnie went to live with her Uncle Joe and Aunt Janet in St. Johns.  Her aunt was expecting, and Winnie went there to live and take care of the younger children.  While in St. Johns, Winnie and her cousin Violet would go to Bannamen Park on Sundays.  One Sunday while they were there two soldiers, a sailor and an Air Force guy were playing “There’s a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere” with their guitars.  An American Soldier was standing behind Winnie and Violet and commented, “Nice music, isn’t it?”  Winnie replied, “Yes it is.”  As the girls walked away, he followed them and sat on a park bench next to them.  He wanted to know everything about Winnie.  Soon they parted ways.  The following Sunday he knocked on Aunt Janet’s door.  Winnie answered and with surprise said “What are you doing here?”.  Winnie told Uncle Joe and Aunt Janet about the American Soldier that she and Hilda had met at the park, and asked if he could come in.  They fell in love with him.  They started courting.  Winnie took him to meet her dad.  A year and a half later on June 21, 1944, Winnie married Charles Arthur Hickman. 

Winnie and Charles had an apartment on St. Johns, and Lorna was born there.  Charlie was stationed at Fort Peprol at St. Johns.  He had 3 months of service  time left.  Charlie was helping Winnie get the paper work completed to come to the United States.  In 1945, when Lorna was five months old, she and Winnie came through Ellis Island and arrived at pier 92 in New York.  When they arrived all  the paper work was in order.  Millard, Charlie’s brother, picked them up, and soon Winnie and Lorna had an apartment in Lindon, New Jersey.  A few months later Charlie arrived, and they bought a house in Rahway, New Jersey on Maple Avenue.  Charles went to work as a bus driver for the city.  On October 21, 1946, Charles II was born, September 24, 1950, Eileen was born, and six years later Steven was born on December 6, 1956.

On November 9, 1959, Winnie became a citizen of the United States.  In order to become a citizen, you had to have a sponsor.  A sponsor is a person who had known you for five years.  Her sponsor was Charlie’s sister.  Lorna was considered a citizen of the United States when she arrived in 1945, because her father was a citizen.

Later Charlie went to work for a clothing store, and Winnie continued to take care of the children and home.  The clothing store went out of business, and Charlie became the manager of Cumberland Farm, a dairy store.  Always trying to better himself, he moved on to First National Bank working in the mail room until he died on January 26, 1987.  He was loved by everyone. 

Winnie was alone now.  The next four years she took care of everything, even though she had never had a drivers license.  Everything she needed was within walking distance.  Friends took her to the Episcopal Church where they both attended, and where Charlie began his Ministering journey.  Winnie was very active in the church teaching Sunday School and was a member of the Altar Guild.

In February 1991, while taking a walk in her neighborhood, she passed the house of Allan Theobold, who was attending to his truck. (A few years earlier, Charlie and Winnie had helped Allan and his wife, Evelyn, during a difficult time.  They all attended the same church.).  Allan’s wife had been deceased for a while.  He said, “Hi” and they began talking.  He invited her to a Valentine’s Day dinner.  She accepted, and they went to a high-class restaurant.  They enjoyed the delicious dinner and each other’s company.  In June 1991, a Neighbor, Vicki, a mutual friend of Winnie of Allan, was getting married.  She invited them to the ceremony and reception.  They enjoyed the wedding and danced at the reception, and had lots of laughs.  They also talked about church.  Allan was raised in the Lutheran Church.  Allan started going to activities with Winnie at her church, but would not attend the worship service on Sunday mornings with her.  He was too busy with sports.  He participated in all sports, and worked out at the gym.  He would drive her to Sunday Service, and wait for her in the car.  Finally, one hot and humid Sunday, Allen said “ It’s too hot to sit in the car and wait,  I’ll see if I can find a seat inside.”  She told him there was one next to her, and he never missed a Sunday Worship Service after that.  Allan worked for RCA and GE making satellites from 1962-1990.

Allan and his first wife liked to play golf in South Carolina.  He went there looking for a new home.  He found one at Murrells Inlet.  When he returned to New Jersey he told Winnie he was very fond of her, and asked her if she would move to Murrells Inlet with him.  She thought about it.  She had been alone now for four years.  She said, “yes”.  They left for South Carolina in 1991.  About a month after they arrived, Winnie began to have some health issues.  She had cancer.  In September 1992, she had a hysterectomy and was in the hospital for ten days.  Allan took good care of her.  During a month of recuperation he cooked and kept the house in order.  After she was well and strong, they were married on April 21, 1999, by a Justice of the Peace.  After the wedding, Sharon, Winnie’s granddaughter who was living and working in Brussels, arranged for Winnie and Allan to come to Brussels for their honeymoon.  She also  arranged a ten day trip to Germany, France, and Luxembourg for them.  Sharon and her husband Jason, and Charles ll (Winnie’s son) and his wife Judy joined them on their ten day adventure.  Allan always said, “I never had any children, but she blessed me with four brats”.  They all loved him.

In 2003, they moved to North Carolina.  During their retirement years, Allan played on a soft ball league.  Winnie enjoyed line dancing. They traveled to Florida five times in one year to Soft Ball Tournaments that Allan was playing in.  He also enjoyed volleyball and continued to play all sports until he had a stroke in 2008, at the age of 80.  Life changed.  They needed help to take care of things now.  He died on September 25, 2014, at the age of 86.  He was buried in New Jersey at the Veterans Memorial Park next to Evelyn.  After the funeral, members of Allan’s family thanked Winnie for blessing Allan with a loving family.

Winnie and Allan joined First Presbyterian Church on June 29, 2003.  They both participated  in the Egg Ministry.  Winnie was a egg roller and Allan carried trays full of eggs to the closet.

Today Winnie spends her time at Arbor Ridge enjoying her friends.  She participates in chair yoga, senior fitness classes, playing bingo, and being creative in arts and crafts activities.  She enjoys the entertainment at Arbor Ridge, and she likes the sing-a-longs.  Spending time with her family is top on the list.  Going shopping and eating out with Lorna is lots of fun.  Her daughter Eileen, who lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia surprises her with visits as often as she can.  Her son Charlie lives in Oak Ridge, North Carolina calls her often and comes to visit also



Accepting Christ as her Lord and Savior.


Meeting Charlie, having her first baby, and raising a wonderful family.



Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


Winnie at Myrtle Beach
Winnie Vacationing with
Family Members at the
Outer Banks
Winnie with Her
Great Great Grandchild
Entire Family (minus a few)
at Winnie's 90th
Birthday Celebration