O christmas tree

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By Laura Hagan

A family tradition spanning more than 50 years is now revived, thanks to a newly-planted tree.

In the early 1940s, Lucy Ricketts’ great-grandfather planted a tree in front of what is now  Heady-Radcliffe Funeral Home in La Grange. From that Christmas on, every year her family decorated the tree for the holidays. 

When her father sold the family business and building – McCarty-Ricketts Funeral Home – to Heady-Radcliffe in 1990, it is the last year the family decorated that tree. 

The funeral home employees continued the tradition and when it grew too tall, members of the fire department brought equipment to help. 

But in recent years, the tree became so tall no piece of equipment could safely reach it to decorate. For the past five or six holiday seasons, the trees has gone without Christmas decorations. 

A few weeks ago Ricketts spoke with employees from the funeral home about the tree. 

They decided to remove the tree, and replace it with a new tree in memory of Ricketts’ mother, Jean Kay Radcliffe, who died in June, and her father, Richard Radcliffe, who died in 1996. The Radcliffe family lived on the second floor of the funeral home beginning in 1949.

Lucy grew up there. 

“That’s why it means so much to me,” she said. 

Ricketts said she hopes to find colorful lights to adorn the tree in the future, to keep with past traditions. For now, though, the tree is covered with white lights. 

Ricketts said even though a lot of new people have moved into the city in recent years, there are still those residents who remember the original tree and how it always looked at Christmas time.

Monday night some of the family will bring back the tradition of decorating the tree that stands in front of the funeral home, complete with the original star Rickett’s grandfather used to place on the tree. 

While the tree is significantly smaller – it’s about 10 feet tall – Ricketts said she hopes it will become part of her family and community’s traditions once again. 


E-mail us about this story at: lhagan@oldhamera.com.