Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Eunice didn't wake up this morning ...

Eunice Willifred Jerred Richter didn't wake up this morning.
She died at age 98 in her apartment in Davis, California after a rapid decline.
She leaves behind her daughter Lois Richter (with son-in-law Jim Drummond) and son Jim Richter (with daughter-in-law Jamie Kaiser) and many friends. Her husband, parents, siblings, and aunts and uncles all predeceased her.
Born 22 January 1916 to Fred Hampton Jerred [1883-1975] and Melvina Caroline "Vina" (nee Sheeks) Jerred [1889-1979] at their farm near Marcellon (Columbia County) Wisconsin, Eunice was the youngest of three children.
Her brother, Floyd Gordon Jerred [1912-1973] married Clara Lobeck and remained living in Columbia County all his life. He died of a heart attack on his own front porch while bringing home a queen bee for his hives. Floyd and Clara had two children -- Floyd Gordon Jerred, Jr, "Gordy" was born in 1937 and Jaclyn Jerred, "Jackie" came along in 1942. Both children married and had children, and that Jerred line continues on today.
Eunice's sister, Venita Mae Jerred [1914-?] married Harley Larson and also remained in the area her whole life. Venita and Harley had two children -- Gary Larson and Gail Larson (who has since changed her name to Abigail Larstein). Both children had offspring, but none named Jerred.
Eunice, on the other hand, did not remain in Columbia; she loved to travel. She was the first one in her family to go to college (Whitewater State Teachers' College), and she was the only one to serve in the WAC. She had been teaching in Niagara Wisconsin before the war, and that's where she met Elmer Paul Richter. They kept in contact during the time they were both in service, and were married (22 May 1944 ) while he was stationed in North Carolina -- even though Private Richter was not supposed to be "fraternizing" with on officer (Lt Jerred)!
Elmer had been born [7 Dec 1912] on a farm in Marinette County, Wisconsin, and was living in Niagara (also in Marinette County) while working at the Kimberley-Clark papermill and caring for his father, Mathias "Matt" Richter [1870-1945], after the death of his mother, Louisa nee Rosenthal [1870-1935]; when he met his future wife on a skating rink. Elmer worked for the Kimberley-Clark Corporation "K-C" from age 18 to age 59 and would have been happy staying in Wisconsin his whole life. But when he was also happy to re-locate when Mom suggested it -- wherever Eunice wanted to live was fine with him. (At least so it seemed to their children.)
Ah, children ...
Elmer and Eunice had two children -- in 1947 James Frederick Richter (who later officially changed it to Jim Richter) and in 1950 Lois Catherine Richter (who was known as Cathy Everett for the one year she was married to Hugh Everett in 1970, but then took back and kept her own name, even after she married James Root "Jim" Drummond in 1996).
In 1952, the family moved out of their rental house in Niagara and bought a home at 145 Elizabeth Street in Kingsford (Breitung Township, Dickinson County, Michigan) and each workday Elmer drove the five miles to the same K-C mill in Niagara.
When Jim and Lois were teenagers, the family moved to California. K-C had bought a mill in Anderson and asked for volunteers to move there and work in it -- Mom was eager, Dad said yes, and the kids were out-voted.
By the time Elmer was laid off in 1970, the children had grown and gone off to college (Jim to Kalamazoo in Michigan, Lois to UC Davis in California). After selling their home at 3456 Thomas Lane, Elmer and Eunice drove around the country looking for work and/or a place to settle. First they went to Wisconsin to visit Mom's parents and Dad's siblings for the summer -- and to see if any of the paper companies were hiring. Then they drove down south and across the country to winter at a mobile home park in Hemet, California. They played bridge (Dad was a duplicate director), made friends, and saw the sights. The second spring sent them north to Oregon, where a friendly employment director told them about a Japanese mill in Alaska that wanted experienced workers and didn't have the same union-required restrictions that was keeping all the US mills from hiring Dad. (Elmer had been a wonderful millwright for many years and knew his job inside and out. The unions had, some years before, decreed that anyone wanting to be hired as a millwright had to have a welding certificate -- even though millwrights didn't weld! So none of the US mills were able to hire Dad although he was much better than many other candidates.) Finally Dad was hired at ALP (Alaska Lumber and Pulp Company) and they lived for 5 years in Sitka, Alaska. They got to see more of the world and made friends with a couple from Japan when they were on a trip to Glacier Bay. Yutaka & Sadako Watanabe remained penpals the rest of their lives and the four visited together many times in both Japan and America.
After Elmer retired at age 65, he and Eunice built a house in Sequim, Washington. Later they moved to Ashland, Oregon and built another house. And finally to Redmond, Oregon to build their fourth house. To be clear, they didn't do the actual BUILDING; but instead hired builders to construct a house to Eunice's very detailed and well-thought-out plans.
After retirement Dad always had a garden, Mom always had house plans, and together they played cards.
They left their Redmond home and moved to Davis -- where both their children lived -- into a senior living apartment. That didn't last very long. They didn't like sharing walls with other people, eating food Mom didn't cook, not having their own garden, and being around so many old people -- so they bought a mobile home 40 miles away in Dunnigan and moved there. After a few years, taking care of that property became too much work and the hot weather got to Mom, so they tried to sell; but there were no buyers for years. It wasn't until 2000 that they were able to sell and relocate back to Oregon -- this time to the Linus Oakes retirement community in Roseburg (Douglas County). Elmer died there 8 Sep 2007.
Lois and Jim remain living in Davis, where they met at UCD in 1969 and were married in 1996. Jim and Jamie spend many years living in their own house in Woodland (Yolo County), then some years on a boat in the Pacific, then travelling with a trailer around America, and finally settling in San Diego in 2012.
During her long life Eunice taught school for a few years, was in the Women's Army Corps for a few years, but spent most of her time as a homemaker. She sewed, cooked, raised children, planned houses, designed landscapes, decorated her homes, square danced, played cards, wrote to many people (eventually daily via email with the "Elders" group), and learned about health issues and alternative medical treatments for her many ailments. After living 91 years with other people -- parents, roommates, and Elmer -- Eunice was living alone for the first time. She still had many card playing friends, dinners in the residence dining hall, and lots of penpals; she was still very connected for the 2 years after Elmer died.
In 2009, she lost much of her vision to macular degeneration.
While she could still see to walk around, she was no longer able to use the computer, read, or play cards with a normal deck. She moved back to California to be close to Lois and her husband Jim so they could be her eyes. She tried four different places within Yolo County during her last 5 years; finally settling in at the brand new Carlton Plaza in Davis.
Eventually Eunice learned to use a talking memo tool, large number playing cards, and had helpers (usually students) assist her in doing computer research and emailing friends.
Since neither of her children had children, Eunice 'adopted' various young people over the years and continued chatting with some of them weekly. A month before her passing, she gave an interview about her wartime experiences to a teacher whose class was making movies of "Heroes". Her stories will live on.

(written by Eunice's daughter, Lois Catherine Richter)

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Coming late to painting and other 'traditional' outlets, I've been enthused by making Artist Trading Cards since 2004. I prefer to trade face-to-face, but also trade online thru several forums and lists. My ATCs include digital and hand-crafted originals, as well as photos of larger art pieces. My TV and radio shows are not included here, but current radio shows can be heard thru the stations archives at: KDRT.org I hope you enjoy this and will share your own similar experiences. (See my old bio at GoTouring.com/bio.html for more details.)