On This Day: Birth of Jean Linton

Jean Linton was born October 15, 1921, in Denison, Kansas. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Jean Linton is my 1st Cousin 1X removed.

Jean Linton Hemphill at a granddaughter’s wedding in 2012

Jean Linton and her younger sister Frances Linton (born in 1924 and also still living) were the children of William Roy Linton (1881-1964) and Vida Cathcart (1890-1994)—my great aunt.

Jean left the farm of her childhood to attend Geneva College in Pennsylvania. It was there that she met the man she would marry: Willard Edgar Hemphill (1915-2003.) Like so many of my ancestors, it was a shared membership with the Reformed Presbyterian Church—with which the college has an affiliation—that figures into the story of how they met.

Willard and Jean Linton Hemphill

On May 18, 1943, the couple made Geneva College history as the first married couple to graduate together.


Jean Linton Hemphill, surrounded by her husband and three sons

The couple raised three sons, all of whom attended Geneva College. One of their sons became a pastor and served Reformed Presbyterian congregations in Shawnee, Kansas; Selma, Alabama; Westminster, Colorado; and Laramie and Casper, Wyoming, before recently retiring.

Vida Cathcart (Jean’s mother) holds her young half-sister, Ina Vera Cathcart (my grandmother)


Unfortunately, my personal contact with Jean has been minimal, largely due to distance. However, following the completion of my Masters degree in 1987, my first professional job was a one-year post as interim oboist with the Con Spirito Woodwind Quintet, which was at that time an ensemble-in-residence at Duquesne University. During my year in the Pittsburgh area, my mother and maternal grandmother, Ina Cathcart Harding (1911-2002)—Jean’s aunt—came from the Midwest to visit me. The three of us visited Jean at the Reformed Presbyterian Home where she resides today.

Because of the Internet in general and social media in particular, I have been able to get vicarious glimpses of Jean in recent years through the social media posts of one of her granddaughters. And in the process of researching this post, I happened upon a gold mine of information about Jean’s life in this beautiful tribute to Jean’s late husband, written by another of her grandchildren.

(It would appear that the Hemphill DNA is associated with high academic scholarship and a talent for writing!)

By all accounts, she is in good health and good spirits as she celebrates her ninety-eighth birthday!