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Ladene Fern Lytton 1923 - 2020
Ladene Fern Lytton

WICHITA — Ladene Fern Lytton, age 96, passed away of natural causes on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Ladene was born in Amarillo, Texas, on July 31, 1923, to James and Mary Bumgardner. James passed away from Typhoid fever in 1925 when Ladene was only two years of age. After this incredible blow, Mary moved along with her two young children to Blackwell, Okla., to get closer to family. Ladene threw herself into excelling at scholastic endeavors and graduated at the top of her class from Blackwell High School in 1941. After earning her diploma, Ladene chose to follow her mother’s footsteps by attending the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in Wichita. In those days, you could not be married while in nurses’ training. Love and companionship were calling, so she dropped out to marry her high school sweetheart, Virgil Elliot. Bookending Virgil’s time serving as an Army infantryman in the years of WWII, she gave birth to Randa Rae and James (Jim) Edward. Ladene was an industrious survivor and needed to work to help support her family. She rekindled her academic prowess and became an executive secretary, working first at the Tonkawa German Prisoner of War Camp, then moved to Continental Oil. And when in California, she was even an executive secretary in the C-suite of the famed JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

Although they loved each other deeply, the traumas of the war infected their marriage. After 20 years of struggle, Ladene and Virgil finally called it quits and divorced. Ladene, always a hard worker, immersed herself in work and caring for her two children. A few years later, in 1964, she met and married Sidney James Lytton. Even though they were in their late 40s, Sid and Ladene started another nuclear family with two children, Sidney Jo and Zeffin. She and Randa, her daughter from the first marriage, were pregnant nearly at the same time in both instances. The two families were virtually inseparable and made one big bunch, including Randa, her husband Dean Mahan, and granddaughters Kelly (Mahan Dancey) and Deana (Mahan Sturd).

Ladene was a 4-H club leader, a Girl Scout troop leader, a school classroom mother, and a Sunday school teacher. She was an exquisite seamstress, a voracious reader, and with pen in hand, she devoured each morning’s New York Times crossword with aplomb. Ladene had a beautiful voice and loved to sing; she was a decades-long performing member of the Sweet Adelines traveling all around the region for concerts and conventions. She loved the telephone more than anything and spent hours every day revolving through her Rolodex of friends and family.

Ladene carried an exceptional and unique love for each and every one of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother James Bumgardner Jr.; husband Sidney James Lytton; daughter Randa Rae (Elliott) Mahan; and stepson Michael Lytton. Ladene is survived by her daughter Sidney Jo Lytton Francis and husband, Scott of Wichita, Kan.; sons James Edward Elliott and wife, Tina of Rochester, New York, Zeffin Quinn Hollis of Los Angeles, Calif. and stepson Jim Lytton of Augusta, Kan.; 12 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. 

As a result of the Covid-19 governance, an intimate memorial was held at the family home on Sunday, May 17, 2020, in Park City, Kan. Memorials in Ladene’s honor are suggested to Asbury Park, 200 SW 14th Street, Newton, KS 67114, (316) 283-4770,

Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune May 22, 2020