March 21, 1928 – January 19, 2021
Margie Lou was born in La Grande, Oregon. She grew up on her parents’ grain and sheep farm near North Powder. She was a true depression and World War II child who learned the value of hard work and sacrifice early. Her life experiences developed her into a determined, hard-working woman.
When she was 16 she worked a farm job called “punching header” which was steering a grain cutting head that was pulled by a caterpillar. The job was hot and dusty and she said it was the hardest job she ever did. The only reason she didn’t quit was because a hired hand said she’d never last a day. Her ability to persevere would continue through her life.
Her intelligence was evident as she advanced through school quickly and graduated when she was barely 16. She went directly on to Oregon State College and graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Bacteriology. She became a pilot in 1946, at the age of 18.
In July 1948, mom was on the first voyage of the newly post war reconstructed M.V. Britannic from New York to Liverpool. She attended a course at the University of Edinburgh, toured the UK and returned home in September to work in the Chemistry Lab at OSC. It was there that she met her future husband, Elwood, and they were married in September 1949.
They became partners in her family’s farm in North Powder until 1962 when they immigrated to Soda Creek, with 4 young children. They purchased what was then known as Richmond Farms and developed it into the current day Dunlevy Ranch. They added two more children to the family in the 1960s.
Margie was an active community member most of her life. When she discovered that local children didn’t have access to swimming instruction she organized and taught basic swimming lessons at McLeese and Duckworth Lakes. Her students were deemed capable swimmers when they successfully swam across Duckworth Lake with Margie in a boat beside them.
She was involved in 4-H as a child member and later as a leader. When her youngest child developed into a golf prodigy she became the Williams Lake Golf and Country Club Junior Manager. She played golf for nearly 40 years and was awarded a Lifetime membership to the club in 2005.
Margie felt fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom, able to include her children in learning to maintain a home, gardens, and help with farming chores, learning very practical skills. When it came to real discipline she had it in spades. She was a diligent worker and expected her children to be the same. She was such a hard task master that a son sewed Sergeant Stripes onto her shirt sleeve! As a grandmother she took time to spend with each grandchild. She is revered by her grandchildren, for whom she was a reservoir of inspiration, knowledge, unconditional love and patience.
She was SO determined to do a job that needed to be done that she often didn’t wait for help. In 1981 a cow needed to be taken to the sale. No one was around to help her so she tried to do it herself. The cow did not want to be loaded and the result was that the cow knocked her down, stepping on her head. She was badly injured with a broken jaw. Her daughter-in-law found her and called an ambulance, which transported her to Prince George for surgery.
She was a great cook and published two volumes of “The Family Cookbook” with recipes from four generations. She had an impressive green thumb. Her flower garden was massive and spectacular, her vegetable garden productive and her numerous expertly pruned apple trees abundant.
One of her last conversations was with a grandson advising him on how to prune the trees. She also preserved much of her family’s food, her roots in self-sufficiency learned from her mother.
As a child she learned to ski. She and her siblings strapped wooden skis to their feet and slid down a hill next to their house. Mom loved skiing but it is possible skiing didn’t love her. Three separate accidents resulted in two broken legs and one broken hip. That didn’t deter her and for 23 years she organized and funded an annual 5-day family ski trip to Silver Star, Vernon. The last trip had to be taken without mom because she had hurt herself in what turned out to be a crippling injury. 2011 was the last family trip because it just wasn’t a trip without mom, and she couldn’t continue after that.
Margie worked hard beside her husband building the family farm over the years. She battled noxious weeds, worked the potato harvester, branded and inoculated cows and calves, checked calving cows at the 2 am shift and drove the silage chopper until she was 84.
Did she have time for anything else? Why certainly… she and dad travelled extensively… Over the years they visited 20 countries. In addition, they travelled the eastern seaboard of Canada and the USA. Many winters were spent golfing in Arizona and Mexico. She fished in Bella Coola, visited family often in Oregon, Washington and California, and was an avid reader.
In 2012 she became a paraplegic and spent four months at G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver. She was no longer able to do most of the work she loved. Even though she was confined to a wheelchair she continued to contribute by sharing her great knowledge and mending clothing, specializing in replacing broken zippers and patching worn out knees.
She operated an adapted sewing machine using her left arm. She had always been a good seamstress and made many articles of clothing for her family, including a bridesmaid and 4 flower girl dresses. She also knit custom Christmas stockings for her extended family: at least 53 stockings.
Margie enjoyed bird watching. She had always been interested in watching birds at the feeders and in the fields, but it was a special joy to her after she became paralyzed because it was something she could easily do from her wheelchair. She became a Project Feeder Watch participant as she could watch the birds from her picture window. She loved music and listened to all kinds. Before she was paralyzed you knew mom was somewhere in the house if you came in and music, usually classical, was playing.
The family thanks Dr. Scrooby, the staff at Kornak & Hamm Pharmacy, the home and community care team for doing all they could to allow her to stay in her home, under her daughters’ care. Thanks also to the many caregivers who provided personal care for her last 8 years.
Margie’s husband of 71 years, Woody, passed away in November 2020. She is survived by her sister Audrey (Dave) Cummings, children, Kathy, Ron (Gloria), Janet (Eric) Stafford, David (Anne), Steven (Linda), Son-in-law Robin Storoschuk, 23 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren, 4 nieces and 9 nephews. Her honesty was truly epic and our appreciation of her legendary diligence lives on in all of us.
She will be laid to rest in the Soda Creek Cemetery with her husband, near their beloved daughter, Laura, who passed away in 2016. We plan a celebration of Life for our parents when Covid 19 restrictions are lifted, hopefully in the summer of this year.
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