• Last modified 1661 days ago (Feb. 5, 2015)


His gift gone, too

Widow suspects statues stolen, seeks their return by Valentine’s Day

Staff writer

Marion County Reservoir resident Connie Rock is missing the statues of a Dutch boy and girl kissing that disappeared from her yard last year.

Their absence makes her miss her husband of 61 years, Donald, even more. He died Sept. 1, after a two-year battle with cancer.

“He was a doozy,” Connie said. “I loved him lots. We just got along, and I’m not easy to get along with. He was a funny man and a good man, but I hated it when he would buy me clothes for my birthday. They never fit right.”

One gift Donald got right was the statues he gave her for her 62nd birthday, she said, but now that gift is missing.

“When he gave it to me he said, ‘I love you Connie. Now you can’t say I never gave you anything,’” she said.

She noticed the statues’ absence one day shortly after his funeral while she was out at her mailbox.

“I looked over in front of our house near the fir trees where they usually sit beside the deer family and sacred heart statues, but I didn’t see the kissing Dutch dollies,” Connie said. “At first I thought that those dollies must have got under the bushes. But when I went over there, I saw they were gone, and even the stone they were sitting on was missing.”

Connie thinks someone stole the Dutch statues because they were light enough to carry off. She said the other statues were too heavy to pick up.

The Rocks moved to Eastshore in 1991 and nothing has ever disappeared before, Connie said.

She had a message for the thieves.

“Please bring back my statues, they mean a lot to me,” she said. “It would be great to get them back by Valentine’s Day.”

Connie is having a hard time without him right now.

“I’m just not over his death yet,” she said. “I have all our pictures and anniversary keepsakes out right now. He was a special man.”

Their story began with a chance meeting in Wichita while Connie was a working for Southwestern Bell and Donald was in the Air Force living in a tent city on Oliver St. before he shipped out for the Korean War.

“My friend and I were headed down to the Cowboy Inn [a bar in the area], and there were two guys outside trying to get us to pull over, so we did,” she said. “When we got out Don yelled at his friend, ‘I get the skinny one and you get the fat one.’ I only weighed 95 pounds at the time.”

They hit it off and after a couple dates, Connie introduced Donald to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Vanderslice.

“Mom and Dad were Holland Dutch, maybe that’s why he gave me the Dutch statues on my birthday, but he never said,” Connie said. “Anyway, Mom and Dad invited him to stay on our couch because it was so cold out in that tent community he was sleeping in.”

When Donald left for Korea, he asked one of his friends to look after Connie while he was gone.

“It didn’t work out and things got a little too hairy,” she said. “So I shooed his buddy away, but I never told Don about that.”

Donald professed his love while serving in the war.

“He proposed in the mail,” she said. “He wrote, ‘Well Connie, I guess you know that I love you, and I think we should get married.’ I thought ‘OK, surely I don’t want to be a spinster, so I wrote him back and said ‘I guess I’ll marry you.’ After that, I went to Michigan and his mother bought the ring.”

They were married soon after, and they renewed their vows on their 50th wedding anniversary.

“He was always a funny man,” Connie said. “He told me, ‘Now you ain’t getting away from me.’ Boy, I sure do miss him.”

Last modified Feb. 5, 2015