Eulogy written and delivered by Vanessa LeMaster
Hello everyone. I want to thank you all for taking the time to attend these services today. Grandma would have very much enjoyed seeing all of your faces. Her friends and family were everything to her. So now Id like to take some time to talk about her life and what she meant to me.
Maude Lavonne Barton was born in Sedro-Woolley WA on April 25 1922 to Noble and Mable Barton, and sister Anna Ruth, aged 5, who was casually known as Ruthie. She was named after her mothers sister, Maude Orth, a nurse, who she would be close to her whole life. Maudes grandmother, Anna Orth, lived across the field from them in a shotgun house. Grandma Maude never forgot that house, and could describe it right up until the end. It was kind of a long house with a covered front porch and all of the rooms were connected in a line, so youd have to go through each room to get to the next. That picture of Grandma as a small child in her birthday suit thats displayed on the table was taken by her Aunt Maude on that front porch. Grandma had many fond memories of her grandmother, who often spoke German to her. She would always laugh about how every time shed be heading back home from a visit her grandma would tell her to be careful Maudie, dont step in the ginzie dreckie (sp?) , which meant goose you-know-what. (I wont use the exact language Grandma did today though. She was never afraid to cuss a little if the situation called for it.) She remained close with her Grandma Orth right up until the end, of course, even travelling to Sedro-Woolley every week to cook and clean for her. It was also during these early childhood years that Maude acquired her love of dancing. Her aunts doted on her as a child and she recalled fondly the visits with her Aunt Myrtle, a classic flapper type gal, who taught her how to do the fox trot, and she and Myrtle would laugh until they cried during their raucous lessons.
The Bartons lived in Sedro-Woolley until 1932 when Grandma was 10 years old. Until that time the family had a fur farm, but when the Great Depression hit, folks no longer had the need or the means for luxury items like fur, so they closed up shop and headed north to Haynie, where they would live until 1940 or 41(?). Maude had many stories of the people she met at Haynie, many of whom would make the transition from childhood friend, to lifelong friend. During these hard times, no one had much, and the Bartons were no exception. In spite of this, they would take in many stragglers throughout these years including a pair of young girls travelling with their father. The father asked if the girls could stay with the Bartons while he travelled back east to secure a job and make enough money to come back for them. They said yes, the girls stayed, and the man did come back. There was also the man who they took in that had cancer and was very sick. According to Grandma, her mother Mabel nursed him back to health and all the way into remission by feeding him a strict diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. Definitely a woman ahead of her time, considering todays holistic and naturopathic remedies that are so popular! Then there was Mr. Clyde Griswold who came to them by way of Concrete, WA. He stayed with them until he died. He had no family to speak of, so when he passed away and was buried at Woodlawn cemetery, Maude would always make sure to stop by on Memorial Day and leave some flowers for him. The generous open-door, anyone is welcome policy that Maudes parents cultivated definitely made a strong impression on her. She herself would never turn anyone away, and you would always feel welcome in her home. Stop by, and she always have a hug, some coffee, and a slice of pie or cake or cookies, or whatever was on the kitchen table. She always said there was room for one more at the table, just throw another potato in the pot! Sadly, it was also during this time, when Maude was 14 years old, that her beloved older sister Ruthie would pass away from fever. This event had a big impact on Maude, and she would feel the loss and miss her sister for the rest of her days.
Maude would attend Custer High School, where she graduated in the class of 1940 alongside her future sister-in-law, the lovely Verna Krenz. She wore a lovely dusty rose colored lace dress with buttons up the bodice. She was very proud of her education and talked about her favorite teachers and classes often throughout her life. She would also attend as many class reunions as possible, relishing the chance to see old friends and catch up. It was around these later high school years, sometime in the summer of 1939, that she would begin dating a local boy by the name of Ernie Krenz. The word on the street is that all the girls in Whatcom county were after the handsome and charismatic Ernie. Maude had known him casually through mutual friends, but thats about it. Until one night at the Haynie Grange. There was a dance that night, and Maude was there, watching the festivities, probably wondering who was going to be her first dance. Across the room, Ernie was standing with another local boy and they both spotted Maude. The other boy said to Ernie Im going to ask her to dance, to which Ernie replied, Not if I get to her first!. They spent the rest of the night trading dances with Maude, and in the end, Ernie was the better dancer, and captured Maudes heart as well as her hand. They dated for a few years, and were married at the courthouse in Seattle on October 10, 1941, with their friends Jean and Merton bearing witness. Maude said she was so happy, not just because she was marrying Ernie, but also because of all of the new brothers and sisters she would gain. All of the Krenzs, Brokaws and Brocks. She loved the idea of belonging to such a big family, and cherished her new relations. Just a few months later Ernie was drafted into the army and sent off to boot camp. Throughout the next few years Maude would follow Ernie from base to base across the United States, from Oregon to California, Texas, and Louisiana and Missouri. She would take odd jobs such as working in a tuna cannery in Astoria, OR, where she said she got so sick of tuna fish, that she couldnt eat it for years after that. In Texas she did housecleaning and laundry for a woman and earned $10 a month for it. Times were tough, but she remained determined to make ends meet and to be with her new husband. Eventually Ernie was sent overseas to Germany and France, and ended his military career in Japan during the occupation. Maude moved back home with her folks, who had relocated to the pink house on Portal Way in Blaine, which was incidentally built out of the salvaged lumber from the old Birch Bay schoolhouse. When Ernie was discharged, they spent a summer over on Lummi Island with Bud and Esther Brock and their kids. The men earned money reef netting for salmon, while the ladies took care of the kids and kept the tents that they spent the summer in ship shape. Maude talked fondly of these days when Little Ernie really was little, and she and her nephew Jim, who was a toddler at the time, would hunt for chicken eggs in the grass. After that Maude and Ernie rented a little cabin in Birch Bay before moving into a little white house on Portal Way across the field from her folks new place.
1950s & 1960s
Maude was unable to have children, which I find ironic, since she was THE most maternal woman I have ever known! So, thats why in August of 1953, she was overjoyed to be able to bring home her little son, Gregory Allen Krenz. He was the light of her life, and she loved him fiercely! She was a proud and doting mother who was able to stay home and raise Greg, often being room mother in elementary school, and taking him with her wherever she went. By this time, Ernie had gone into business with his father-in-law, Noble, and started his own dump truck business. In 1962 they built the yellow house on Portal Way. Most certainly a very proud moment for Maude and Ernie.
1970s & 1980s
Greg would graduate from Blaine High School in 1971 and head to eastern Washington for college. Ernie got a job with the highway department, and Maude started to work now too. As an Avon lady, and in housekeeping up at Stafholt care center in Blaine. She relished these jobs, and enjoyed the many people she would meet during these times. In 1977, her first grandchild, me, was born, and boy, was she ready. My parents both worked, but I was fortunate to never have to have a babysitter or daycare. Grandma was it for me, and we spent A LOT of time together. She was the quintessential Grandma. She baked, cooked, sewed, knitted, crocheted, canned, gardened, and even tried her hand at wine making in the 70s. My husband John and I had the pleasure of tasting a wine she had made in 1976 during a Christmas visit about 10 years ago, and it had aged beautifully. I have never seen such a beautiful amber color in a liquer, which is what it had become by then. It was like honey, but better. Truly delicious. I think my most treasured memory of childhood were the days when I would be at home with Mom or Dad, who had moved into the old pink house shortly before I was born, and suddenly the idea would come to me, Hey, can I go spend the night at Grandmas? Mom would say, Its ok with me, but you have to call and ask first. So I would climb up on a stool and dial the number on the old mustard yellow rotary wall phone in between the dining room and kitchen. 332-5124. I would ask, and the answer would always be yes. So, off to my room Id go to pack up my little lavender Going to Grandmas suitcase, and then out the front door to make the long walk across the field to Grandma and Grandpas house. In summertime, the grass would grow long, but Dad and Grandpa would keep a path mowed short for me to walk back and forth. Id cross our front lawn, go across the little wood plank bridge over the ditch that ran along the border of the field, then down the path, the long grass standing taller than me! It felt like such an adventure, and the anticipation of all the fun Id have is something I can still remember vividly. And then, when Id get to the end, the path would open up onto Grandma and Grandpas lawn, and there shed be, my Grandma, waiting for me in the yard. Best memory ever. She was my favorite person in the whole world my whole life from then until now. We would cook together and from the time I was little, we were always in the kitchen. Homemade potato soup, cookies, cakes, you name it. And always, there was ice cream after dinner. I have made a career for myself in the restaurant industry and still love to cook. It is my creative outlet. Its what I do when Im stressed, when Im happy, when company is coming. I love it, and I credit that to my Grandma. She also taught my mom a lot about cooking and taking care of a household. Mom was quite young when she married Dad, and she often talks about all of the things Grandma taught her. She was like a second mother to many people in her life throughout her years, and seemed like she always had room for more.
Ernie retired from the highway department in 1981, and then began their snowbird years. They bought a place in Yuma, AZ and spent winters there until 1990 or so. In 1985 a second grandchild was born, Kristi Alyn. And once again, Grandma was ready. She adored her grandchildren like no other, and we adored her back.
Eventually Maude and Ernie would retire from retiring, and the snowbird years came to an end. They bought a mobile home out near Birch Bay on Harborview Road. In 1995 I began to prepare for graduation. One day Grandma told me that she still had her graduation dress from when she graduated and wondered if I would mind trying it on for her so she could take my picture in it. I said sure, why not? And lo and behold, it fit like a glove! I said I would love to wear it for my graduation. At the time, I loved shopping in vintage stores, so the style was perfect, and I was happy to wear it. Grandpa took it to get dry cleaned, and Grandma got a kick out of the fact that it cost more to clean it than it did to buy it originally. It was a proud day for me to wear that dress, and I still have it. Maybe someday, I hope there will be another lucky young girl who will be able to wear it for her graduation, well see..
I remember the years after I graduated and left home as very difficult, but special, time for us. Grandma and Grandpa really stepped up into kind of parental roles for me, and I still came and stayed the night with them often. Those home-cooked meals tasted pretty good during my college years! I also remember Maude and Ernie being very much in love during this time. They would hold hands everywhere we went, and at home when they would pass each other in the hall, they would always stop and kiss. It was so sweet to see a love so strong after so many years. Very inspirational too. I can only hope to aspire to that kind of relationship myself, and seeing that it is possible, made a huge impression on me.
Eventually the years wore on, and age, that old bugger, catches up with us all. In August of 2008, Maude and Ernie moved into assisted living in Lynden. These years were hard on Maude, but she stayed strong and did her best. Ernie would pass away on October 2, 2009, with Maude by his side, holding his hand, only 8 days shy of their 68th wedding anniversary.
By this time Maude was at Lynden Manor, her final residence. She would make friends with a wonderful, beautiful person named Frances Leigh. Fran and Maude were like the Bobsey twins. Best friends from the start. They would grow close as confidantes, watch TV each night together, eat meals together, and be there for each other when times got tough. Grandma use to joke that Fran was hard of hearing, and she herself couldnt see, so between to two of them, they made an unbeatable pair! During her last years Maude enjoyed going to book club, attending all of the music programs, and receiving visitors. Her favorite thing to do when I would come for a visit was to go to Edaleen Dairy for ice cream cones. One winter, it was a bitter cold day, maybe even the coldest of the year, and where do you think the two of us were? Sitting in her car in the parking lot of Edaleen Dairy, eating ice cream! She said people must have thought we were crazy! She celebrated her 91st birthday this past April, an admirable feat by any standard. Her passing has left a big emptiness for me, as well as many of you here today. She was a woman of small stature, but larger than life personality and tenacity. She was a huge role model for me personally, and I know for certain there is no way I would be the person I am today without her. I will miss her every day. She once told my mother regarding death and dying, that its ok to be sad, but dont be too upset, because death is just a natural part of life, and you have to accept it and move forward. Wise advice, that has definitely helped me through this past week. So, whether you called her Mom, Grandma, Aunt Maude, Maudie, or just plain Maude, know that she would appreciate your grief, but ultimately, would want you to be happy, and remember the good times you had with her, which were undoubtedly plentiful. Take a good look at those pictures that are on display. They show a woman who had one heck of a good life. Always happy, always smiling, always busy with so many hobbies and family and lots of good friends. So lets take our cue from her, and celebrate the wonderful woman, and the wonderful life she led. And with that Ill say good bye my sweet Grandma, and just know that I love you and admire you and you have meant more to me than you could ever know. Thank you.
Farewell Tribute Information
The will be a visitation on Tuesday June 25 at 2:00 PM, followed by a funeral service and reception at 3:00 PM in the chapel at Moles Greenacres, 5700 Northwest Dr, Ferndale. A committal service will take place on Friday June 28 at Greenacres Memorial Park, 5700 Northwest Dr in Ferndale.