The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

June 16, 2013

Author, 92, recounts blessings in book

BY MARY WICOFF
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — While she’s had her share of thunderstorms in her life, Mandy Sexton Honold sees the rainbow at the end — and a shower of blessings.

In fact, that’s the name of her book, “Showers of Blessings” — published in her 92nd year.

The small paperback details the many adventures and illnesses she’s had in her life, and weaves inspirational messages throughout her stories.

“I did this for my family,” Honold said of her book, which was published by her nephew. “It’s for the family so they know what their heritage is. I’m not trying to do something for myself.”

The book arrived a couple of weeks ago, just in time for the Sexton family reunion. About 60-70 people are expected at the reunion, which will take place at noon Saturday, June 22, at the Hideaway Shelter at Kennekuk County Park.

The reunion has been a family tradition for more than 85 years. About 180 members are still living.

The cover of Honold’s book shows a group photo from 1983, with several five-generations represented. Honold and her “baby” brother, Charles Sexton, 90, who lives in Florida, have attended almost every year. Sexton is a retired lieutenant colonel with the Air Force.

The children in that photo now have families of their own.

People who have read the book like it, Honold said, describing it as an easy read.

Sharon Rogers of Danville is one of those fans, saying, “It’s very inspiring. She’s just amazing to me, the way she keeps going.”

As a minister’s wife, Rogers said, “I believe in the Lord, and I was very blessed by the book.” Her late husband, Gary, was pastor at the First Assembly of God Church for 20-plus years.

Honold has been through several illnesses and experienced healings, and God always brought her through, Rogers said. Those stories, she said, “may inspire some people to get to know the Lord.”

Honold dedicates the book to her late husband, Karl, who was pastor at New Life Pentecostal Church in Mount Prospect for more than 20 years. The book is also dedicated to the Sexton clan.

The book begins with Honold’s youth growing up in humble surroundings near Danville. Her father died when she was 3, and her mother was left to raise seven children during the Depression. After being educated in Chicago and Danville, she applied to a nurse’s training course at St. Elizabeth Hospital, but couldn’t afford the fees. She worked two years at the telephone company at $6 a week.

When World War II started, she worked in the war plant near Detroit and did USO tours with her husband, a professional dancer. When that marriage ended, she went to New York City and began selling memberships to a spa, and moved into other sales jobs across the country.

She eventually returned to Danville in the early 1950s, and became host of a program on WDAN-TV, called “Tots Revue,” featuring performances by area children. Her cameraman was Gene Hackman, and if she needed someone to fill in for her, she called upon Jerry Van Dyke.

Later, her show returned to Channel 24 as “Tot and Teen Toppers.”

She’s had a lot of firsts in her life as a woman, saying, “I was a person in the right place at the right time. And I believed I could do anything.”

In Danville, she also taught swimming and worked at Camp Music Store, and was involved in many other activities. When she married Karl Honold, her life settled down so she could raise their son, Jim.

However, even in her 90s, she remains active.

She’s always enjoyed writing, and writes a column for the monthly edition of the Immanuel Senior Residence newsletter, “In Touch.” She also started “The Nineties Group,” made up of women over age 90.

Honold, who is Pentecostal, meets every Saturday morning at the Rock Church with about 20 other people to sing old Christian songs and listen to a taped preacher. In the book, she talks about her conversion in 1973 and how she was healed after being crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. She’s an ordained minister in the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith.

Her book also describes all the changes she’s seen over the years — from the buggy days to cars and telephone to the space program.

The book was published by her nephew, Rex Sexton of Gig Harbor, Wash., and her relatives assumed the cost.

She’s working on a second book, “Cry for America,” reflecting on how things have changed through the years.

Looking back on the success of getting a book published, she said, “It’s what God’s done for me. He carried it through all the way.”

FYI

To order copies of Mandy Sexton Honold’s book, “Showers of Blessings,” call her at 446-1250; cost is $10.

Honold will sign copies of her book from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 9 at the Danville Public Library.