Aug. 7, 1928 - Sept. 30, 2021
Former Sweet Home resident Gertrude Irene Reeserpassed away peacefully at home in Yuma, Ariz., on Sept. 30, 2021.
She was born Aug. 7, 1928, to George and Evangeline Emmert in Molalla. Gertrude grew up mostly in Sweet Home, attending school there and in Heston, Kan. She married Maynard Reeser of Albany in 1946.
In 1953 the couple boarded the steamship Baranof in Seattle with their two young daughters and sailed to Petersburg, Alaska. There, they raised their family and Gertrude went into business, owning and operating a women's clothing store for over a decade, then working as accountant for Kayler Dahl and Ocean Beauty Seafoods.
She became active in the Women of the Moose Club and the Business and Professional Women's Club, eventually serving as State of Alaska BPW president.
She was later appointed chairwoman to a newly-created Commission on the Status of Women by Gov. William Egan, sometimes working in Washington, D.C., in order to get it up and running.
Gertrude was always an advocate for women; a quiet actionist who worked diligently to improve the lives of and uplift many, especially Alaska Native women in remote villages as well as locally. She felt truly honored to be adopted into the Tlingit tribe by Mary Reyes, thereby becoming"family."
Over the many years in Alaska, she particularly loved salmon fishing; her favorite spot was at the mouth of Blind Slough. She enjoyed canning and pickling salmon and making kelp pickles.
"Gertie," as most her friends called her, was a great cook and an admired hostess, still preparing and serving wonderful meals to her friends and family well into her 92nd year of life.
She and her husband moved to Seattle in 1975, where she continued to work in the seafood industry until 1999, when she retired and moved to Yuma.
She enjoyed volunteering for the humane society, Stone Ridge Church and Crossroads Mission, as well as having more time for her hobbies.
Gertrude was featured in an article in the Yuma Sun when she took a welding class at the college in her 70s, turning her newly-learned skills into art. The pool area of her home showcased her metal and pottery creations.
Gertie loved to host the many family members and old friends who visited Yuma, as well as new close friends and neighbors.
She was a prolific potter and excellent seamstress, who loved to travel with close friends and with her daughters. She made many cruises, trips to Hawaii, Mexico, and overseas as well as month-long road trips. Her "special place" was the island of Maui.
Gertrude enjoyed robust health up until five months before her passing, when she fell and broke her hip. At 92, she had just returned from a month-long trip with one of her best friends.
Over the summer, working toward recovery, she deeply appreciated and spoke often of the love, care, calls and cards she received from family and friends.
Gertrude left a legacy of giving, having spent much of her time making and doing for others, from the 100-plus handmade rag dolls (each with its own unique dress) made for the children of Haiti, thereby enhancing young lives in a beautiful way (they had been playing with old shoes as "babies") ... to sewing 52 school uniforms for children in an orphanage in Mexico... to the many pieced quilts she made and gave away to residents of Crossroads Mission, retirement homes and animal shelters in Yuma.
She was a follower of Christ and a true helper to those less fortunate than she was. She often said she felt the Lord gave her a long life so that she could help more people. No one who came to her for support or in need was turned away, whether it be a friend, stranger or animal.
A life-long dog lover, over the years she adopted several from the animal shelter, usually choosing the oldest, least attractive one because she felt it needed a good home the very most. Those were some lucky dogs!
A much beloved and missed mother, sister, grandmother and aunt, Gertrude is survived by her two daughters, Linda Reeser Rustad (Tom) and Susan Lyons (Greg), sister Ailene Estes (John), grandchildren Mathew Daniels (Tara), Aaron Martin, Desiree LeFave (Kristopher), Shane Lyons (Emily) and Jay Miller (Crystal), beloved nephews and nieces in Alaska, Oregon and Washington and 15 great-grandchildren.
Had she lived another three months, she would have also become a great-great grandmother.