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Kathleen Loftman addresses De Anza DAR in ‘Widow’s Weeds’

Left to right: Kathleen Loftman, Ruth Tilton, Joanne Dudek, Marti Meiners
Left to right: Kathleen Loftman, Ruth Tilton, Joanne Dudek, Marti Meiners

Wearing “widow’s weeds,” Kathleen Loftman presented a captivating program on “Mourning and Mourning Jewelry” at the monthly luncheon meeting of the De Anza Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution held May 5 at the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club.

Loftman is the chapter registrar and Executive Vice President and Director of Program Execution for SAIC in San Diego.

“A widow was expected to remain in mourning for over two years in 19th century Victorian England,” Loftman said in relating the proper attire for the three phases of Victorian mourning.

Women without means and children to support were allowed to remarry after full mourning, but resumed wearing black clothing after the wedding. Widowers usually mourned for two years, but had discretion when to remarry as he might have young children to rear.

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Kathleen Loftman in Victorian mourning attire.
Kathleen Loftman in Victorian mourning attire.

Full mourning lasted a year and a day. Clothing was dull black cloth without ornament and a full black crepe weeping veil. The nine-month long second mourning allowed minor fabric trim ornamentation and mourning jewelry, still with lusterless cloth, and the veil was lifted and worn back over the head. Elderly widows, including Queen Victoria, frequently remained in second mourning the rest of their lives. In the subsequent half mourning period, more elaborate fabrics could be used as trim and women could begin to wear color as they came out of this phase.

Mourning over parents or parents over lost children usually lasted one year with six months in crepe, three months in the second stage and three in half mourning. Young children mourned a year. Females under 17 did not wear the crepe of full mourning.

Loftman wore a Victorian garment of widow weeds made from 17 yards of silk crepe, a black silk satin petticoat and bustle, and full mourning veil. She also showed a small cap with attached veil for second stage mourning and discretely demonstrated a “split pants” undergarment. The audience had the opportunity to see Loftman’s collection of mourning parasols, including one with a spring hinge so the mourner could screen herself from passersby if she wished. She displayed an extensive collection of mourning jewelry and told the group about materials used to make the jewelry and the symbolism involved.

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In keeping with the thought of mourning, the chapter held its annual memorial service for those Daughters who had passed in the past year. Registrar Kathleen Loftman placed white roses in a vase as Chaplain Joanne Dudek read about deceased members Joan Kirkpatrick, Florence Marr, Doris Repa, former State Regent Kathleen Stowell and Eloise Street. Loftman placed an additional rose in the vase for 32 inactive De Anza members whose death dates were recently determined by Regent Laurel Lemarié and 2nd Vice Regent Sue Bubnack. Dudek finished the ceremony with a patriotic eulogy.

The newest De Anza DAR member, Ruth Tilton, was inducted into the chapter by Joanne Dudek, Kathleen Loftman and 1st Vice Regent Marti Meiners, membership chairman. Ruth’s American Revolution patriot ancestor is Private James Place of Virginia.

Located in Encinitas, De Anza Chapter has about 100 members who live in Cardiff, Carlsbad, Carmel Valley, Encinitas, Leucadia, Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and other nearby areas. De Anza’s active lineage committee helps prospective members with their applications. For more information, call Laurel Lemarié 858-756-2835 or visit https://www.deanzadar.org.


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