Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wilma: The Obituary

This is my grandmother's obituary, written by my mother and her sister:

Long time Rainier resident Wilma Hackenberg, 95, passed away at home on December 14, 2008, of age related causes. She had been in declining health and was cared for by her loved ones with assistance from Longview Hospice. Mrs. Hackenberg was born July 15, 1913, in Portland, Oregon, the only child of Latvian immigrants. After her mother died, Wilma and her father moved to Rainier when he married a local widow. Wilma started second grade at the original Hudson Grade School, later used as the gym when her own children attended the newer two room school built on the site. She went on to graduate from Rainier Union High School in 1931.

Wilma married Joe Hackenberg in October 1934 and they lived on the homestead where they raised strawberries for over 40 years. All six of their children grew up working in the berry fields as well as many of the grandchildren.

During World War II the family made a temporary move to Southern California where Wilma joined other women filling war time vacancies in the factories. She was employed by a defense contractor and commended for her skill as a pipe cutter and had an opportunity to became familiar with tools she would later use on projects.

Wilma was active in the local community where she grew up. She volunteered to set up the hot lunch program at the grade school, procured the basic equipment and took her turn as cook until one was hired. Wilma regularly visited and assisted elderly neighbors, was a member of the Hudson Ladies Aid, and a precinct vote counter until she could no longer drive at night. Over the years many needing assistance have benefited from the Hackenberg’s generosity in providing shelter in the family home.

After they retired from the strawberry fields, Wilma and Joe delivered the Longview Daily News and Wilma was an Avon dealer for a number of years. She liked gardening and at one time had a large collection of dahlias. Later she was able to pursue her love of art, and was an original member of the Rainier “Art for Fun” group. She enjoyed pen and ink drawing, China painting, wood carving with the club in Longview and working with acrylic and oil paints. Wood burning on driftwood gathered at family outings was a special interest and she volunteered to teach that skill at Nasalle Youth Camp.

Wilma taught painting at Lower Columbia College senior outreach program for many years ending when she was 86 and developed severe vision loss. With her strong spirit and “can do” attitude she was able to continue working on art projects in her home with the aid of a magnifying machine until her stroke at age 92. She had many lasting friendships from the classes she took around the State and classes she taught. Art students of all ages came to “Wilma’s Paintin’ Place” in her home for lessons including a Portland TV newscaster whose session was shown on a local TV station.

Her family enjoyed Wilma’s many tales of country life in her youth – adventures walking to Hudson School and activities there, farm chores of rounding up the family’s free range cattle, dressing up in Civil War costumes and playing with memorabilia of that era, and the excitement of watching the occasional car go by on the nearby new Highway 30.

Even in declining health, Wilma’s strong spirit and determination were an inspiration to those close to her. She will be greatly missed by her many friends and loved ones. Wilma was preceded in death by her husband Joe Hackenberg in 1985, daughter Ruth Ring in 1996, and grandson William (Joey) Hackenberg in 2002. Survivors include sons Joseph Hackenberg and Robert Hackenberg, Rainier, OR; daughters Joan Linn, Forest Grove, OR; Carol McNeely, Renton, WA; Ina Hammon, Lake Oswego, OR; 17 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

Arrangements for her “celebration of life” service will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the “Ruth Kellar Book Fund Scholarship” at the Rainier Junior and Senior High School, Rainier, OR; Longview Hospice; or a charity of your choice

No comments: