Rites for Long-Time Resident Who Was Proud of Her New Citizenship
SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (AP) _ Gladys R. Weaver, a resident of the United States for 73 years but a citizen only since February, was buried Tuesday as her son recalled her pride in her new citizenship - something she thought she had all along.
″She just hoped to God that she would get her citizenship before she died after living here all her life,″ Harold Weaver said of his mother, who died last week at age 81. ″She didn’t want to die an alien.″
Mrs. Weaver, who came to the United States from London as Gladys Rouse in 1912 at age 8, grew up in Fremont, Ohio. She met and married Clarence Weaver, and the two settled down to farm near this central Indiana community in 1922.
Forty-three years and six children later, the Weavers moved to Florida.
Two years ago, after her husband died, Mrs. Weaver applied for a passport to visit England, only to be told she wasn’t an American citizen.
It was then her campaign for citizenship began.
She received a ″green card″ certifying her as a resident alien and telling her she could be naturalized in three years. But Mrs. Weaver said that at her age, ″three years may be too long.″
The Consular Affairs Office said alien women who married Americans before Sept. 22, 1922 automatically became citizens. Mrs. Weaver’s wedding was eight days too late.
She appealed to Perry Rivkind, the immigration director in Miami. One of his assistants tracked down documents showing that Mrs. Weaver entered the United States through Ellis Island in 1912 and qualified for permanent residency then. That meant she was eligible for citizenship five years after 1912.
Finally, on Feb. 14, Mrs. Weaver took her oath of citizenship.
A framed copy of a magazine story about Mrs. Weaver’s long journey toward citizenship was placed next to her casket.
″I think it meant a lot to her,″ said her son, Harold. ″But what hurt her more than anything else was that they gave her an alien card. She considered herself a citizen all those years.″
Weaver said his mother was always patriotic - paid taxes, voted regularly and had a Social Security card.
She died in Yakima, Wash., where she had stopped on her way home to Maderia Beach, Fla., from a trip to Alaska.
Mrs. Weaver’s family requested that memorial contributions be made to the Statute of Liberty Restoration Fund.