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I come from a devout Presbyterian family. My Dad’s parents, the Alexanders, came from Flora, Illinois, to homestead on Cedar Ridge, east of Kendrick, in 1886. They arrived by train to Moscow, and then relied on an agent to find the homestead. It took a year to find the right one. My grandfather helped build the Gold Hills church in 1908. On the other side, my mother’s parents, the Jenks family, also homesteaded near Cedar Ridge, so this area has always been special to me. Both families raised wheat, barley, oats, beans, and had large gardens. We still use the Jenks family homestead as a family retreat.  From a photograph, Beth Rimmelspacher recently captured the essence of the homestead in a wonderful painting.

Mom and Dad married in 1916 and had three children. I am the oldest, then two brothers (both deceased). Riding horseback, we attended the one-room Cedar Ridge School with all eight grades in the one room. As farmers, we survived the depression by being blessed with plenty of food, marketing the surpluses in Kendrick.

In 1934, we moved to Clarkston so that my two brothers and I could finish high school at Charles Adams High. We attended First Presbyterian Church with the Rev. David Brown, as pastor. Also attending was a cute young man who took my eye. After graduation in 1936, I went to Lewis Clark Normal (now LCSC) and earned my teaching certificate. We lived on 15th and Chestnut, so walking to LC everyday was an adventure in itself. Dad worked several jobs during these two or three years away from the farm.

My first teaching job in 1939-40 was a one-room, 8-grade school outside Juliaetta, with 15-20 children. Some were from the Nez Perce Tribe. In those days, duties included chopping wood, building the fire, cleaning the outhouse, cleaning the school room and, of course, teaching, all for $90.00 a month. I boarded with a family and paid my own expenses.

The cute young guy I mentioned above was Joe Michaelis, by then also a teacher, and I married him in 1941, Rev. Brown doing the honors. His mother too was a teacher, from Iowa originally, and his father came from Missouri. We celebrated our 50th in Hendrick Hall with many friends and family members. We had 58 and half years together. Very early in our married life, however, as I was driving (a car, not a horse) home one cold afternoon, I heard on the radio about Pearl Harbor. Joe went into the service within days, the first married man from Nez Perce County. I followed him later to several airbases in California and then to Roswell, New    Mexico where he spent five years of his military time. While he was instructing men how to pilot B-17 planes, I was learning how to be an officer’s wife and occasionally substitute teaching. Times were tough, but we both had our faith to see us through.
At war’s end, we moved first to the University of Idaho, and then to Forest Grove, Oregon, so Joe could attend Pacific  University’s  College of   Optometry.  During  his five years of schooling, I continued to teach, and we had two children, Joelle, born in Lewiston, and Marsha, born in Forest Grove.
We returned to our Idaho “roots” to settle for life and built a house, (which I still maintain with help). Joe established his optometric office at 10th and Bryden, not far from our home. I furthered my career by graduating from the University of Idaho after many summers of course work while teaching grade school in Lewiston. 
My adult life has revolved around my Christian upbringing. And First Presbyterian has been at the center. Both daughters were married in our “home church.” I served as a Deacon and Sunday School teacher, a youth group leader, and VBS teacher. Until recently, (because I don’t drive anymore—horses or cars!) I enjoyed the craft Fellowship group and OWLS. Our family functions with our daughters, their husbands, four grandchildren, and one great grandson are a joy. As I write this, a new great granddaughter is due to arrive in January, 2008. First Presbyterian is our second home and all who attend are very precious to us. Joe and I, from high school on, have lived our Christian training and have passed it on to our children.

Joe continued to fly after military service, mostly planes out of the Lewiston airport, many times with his longtime pilot friend, Floyd Roberts. He was an Elder. He maintained the old Jenks homestead, was an avid furniture maker and woodworker. The whole family has many of his pieces. The bible holders under the pews, and items to sell for the bazaar were his gifts to the church.

Retirement for me in 1979, but later for Joe, was a happy time. We enjoyed traveling in our motor home to the southwest, to Canada, and to the Midwest where we did some genealogy work on our two families. We haven’t found that “ghost” in the closet yet!

My beloved Joe went to his heavenly home on August 21, 1999, his 82nd birthday. I miss him terribly, but know he is with our Lord and for that I praise Him. I continue to knit, read, visit with friends, and “hold down the fort” as Joe used to say. Thank you First Presbyterian for constantly reinforcing our beliefs and always being there for us. 

Phone: 509 758-3381
Fax:    509 758-3382
Clarkston First Presbyterian Church
1122 Diagonal, Clarkston
Washington 99403