Friday, August 7, 2015

Headstone Inscription that Led to Discovering a Tragedy

As I was transcribing the headstone of Jay Edwin Rauch into my family tree, I read it and was brought up short. What could it possibly mean?

Jay Edwin Rauch headstone; photograph courtesy of Find A Grave volunteer,

He carried on though his heart was broken.

Further investigation revealed his wife, Irene St. Clair Beard, who was a twin sister of Inez Fleming Beard and my first cousin twice removed, and their only known daughter Martha Anne Rauch, were killed in a automobile accident on 25 November 1967 near Roanoke, Virginia. This was just two days after Thanksgiving and one month before Christmas.

Irene (Beard) Rauch was 59 years old when she died and daughter Martha Ann, a student at the University of Richmond, likely home for the holidays, was just 23.

Twin sisters, Inez and Irene Beard; photograph courtesy of Mary Logan
Eubanks via member Sophia143Martin

Martha Ann Rauch from the 1964 University of
Richmond Yearbook,  The Web; photograph courtesy of

ROANOKE -- Police yesterday identified Mrs. Rauch and her daughter, Martha, as the victims of a head-on two-car crash Saturday night on State Rt. 117, just north of Roanoke.

Treated at Community Hospital for injuries they received in the crash were Ralph T. Moses, 35, and his wife, Mrs. Angaline K. Moses, 30, of Staunton.

Trooper H. T. Haskins said Moses was the driver of of a 1962-model auto which was in a collision with a 1963-model car driven by either Mrs. Rauch or her daughter.

Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on 27 November 1967.

Such a short, terse article to describe an unimaginable tragedy as Jay Rauch lost his entire family in the blink of an eye.

Jay Edwin Rauch was struck by a driverless rolling car on 15 January 1970 and died two days later at Roanoke Memorial Hospital. He was buried beside his wife and daughter in Evergreen Burial Park, Roanoke, Virginia.


  1. What a tragic story. I am glad someone took the time to have those few simple words inscribed on the headstone otherwise you might have never known. I gain so much inspiration from the stories of those that endured tragedy and kept going.

  2. Sad but it's nice that you investigated further to solve the mystery of the epitaph. I am always following the trials for the closure of each person's life ( if records are available)