Elma Hebler

Published 11:19 am Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mrs. Hebler passed away, Dec. 26, 2015, in Vicksburg at age 98.

Elma Hebler was born in Sebastopol in Scott County, Nov. 5, 1917, the daughter of Robert Lee Monk and Meadie Bradford Monk.

She graduated from Sebastopol High School and was valedictorian of her senior class. She attended East Mississippi Junior College and later came to Vicksburg in 1942 and worked a short while in the Vicksburg Telephone Company.

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Later, that same year. Elma became one of the first employees of the newly opened plant of the R.G. LeTourneau Co., south of Vicksburg. The plant was built to continue Mr. LeTourneau’s expansion of manufacturing of earth moving equipment, and later the construction of mobile offshore drilling platforms.

Mrs. Hebler was payroll supervisor and headed the payroll department for the plant.

Elma loved her job and was proud of what she was able to accomplish.  Later, after her retirement, while well up in her 80s, she remarked, “If they would take me, I wouldn’t mind going back to work today.”

Elma and her husband, William Hebler, both worked at the LeTourneau plant, and they would awaken at 5 a.m. to be ready for the 30-minute drive to the plant. They would leave the house at 5:55 a.m. and arrive at the plant at 6:30 a.m.  Elma said she liked to get to work early and “line up her work” before the daily distractions started.

At lunchtime, Elma would operate the plant’s switchboard and eat her one apple, which served as her lunch.

Mrs. Hebler was the first woman employee to attain membership in the prestigious LeTourneau “Quarter Century Club.”  She retired from LeTourneau after 38 years of very dedicated service to the company, from July 1942, to May 30, 1980.

At her retirement ceremony, Bill Thomas, her supervisor, said, “Elma easily wins the nod for our sweetheart, having been one from her first day at work.” Thomas continued, “Elma’s gracious manner has endeared her to every employee and she always performs her duties in a superior manner.”

Elma served her retirement years as a homemaker and a volunteer at the Vicksburg hospital.

Elma was a caregiver and a true friend to a whole host of relatives and friends.  She would serve them by cooking for them, calling and checking on them by phone, and taking them to doctor’s appointments and to the hospital.  Elma always wanted to help someone who was sick, lonely, or someone in need.

Her husband of 55 years was the true partner in her life that she both loved and cared for.  William Hebler died April 26, 2003.

She is survived by her only child, daughter Mary Ruth Fernstrom, and her husband John of Sarasota, Fla.; and one grandson, Eric Lee Fernstrom and his wife Elizabeth Fernstrom, of Tucson, Ariz.

Elma Hebler is also survived by many nieces and nephews, their children and grandchildren.

Elma regularly attended the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Vicksburg.

Services will be at Riles Funeral Home, 5000 Indiana Ave., Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, with visitation with the family at 10 a.m., followed by a service in the chapel at 11, with a brief graveside service and internment at Greenlawn Gardens cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 3005 Porters Chapel Road, Vicksburg, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.