Ethel has lived in Tonasket since 1956. She has been attending Tonasket Senior Center “ever since I could!” She loves the company of her community and enjoys the meals very much. There are activities that she has participated in at the senior center over the years and says that she really has a good time. She used to take the exercise class and is contemplating taking it up again.
In earlier years, Ethel was a cashier at Al’s (now known as Beyer’s) grocery store. She also used to ride horses at a riding academy in Grande Coulee. She still drives, even in the snow. The abundant wildlife in the area is appreciated often. Her highlight last summer was when a bull elk rested in her front yard.
This is Ellie. She is proud to tell me that she is 90 years old and had pictures taken for the occasion. She sent out 95 Christmas cards this year with her photo because she believes this will be her last.
Ellie is currently quite independent; she is legal to drive until October 2017 but says that is no big deal since she will be living in an assisted living facility and won’t need to drive anymore. She laughs mischievously and says that her grandkids will take her where she wants to go.
This quiet, sweet woman embodies what community is about. She and her husband of 43 years took in kids whose home life was unstable. They could stay as long as they wanted and they did. Now retired and in their 60’s, Ellie is proud of each and all.
She softly tells me that her husband passed away five months ago. They had lived on a farm up until recently when they moved to town. Her husband attended the same church from the time he was five years old until he was 85. His family had sold everything they had on their farm in the Dakotas in the 30’s and came to Omak for a fresh start. “The only thing they could grow there was tumbleweeds.”
Somewhere along the way, Ellie opened a charity thrift store in Okanogan where she would help anyone who asked. Her shop earnings went to assist with other charitable efforts. She smiles broadly at the memory and pats my hand.
Every Tuesday, you can find her at the Omak Senior Center for lunch. You can count on it. She loves the food and the companionship, especially as she adjusts to being alone after so many years. Once a month, her daughter comes from out of town to join her and help her if needed.
She says that she looks forward to Tuesdays and wipes her mouth delicately with a napkin.