An Obituary for the beloved Elsie Clyde Root
Another member of the "Greatest Generation" has left us. On Monday, March 22, 2021, in the early morning hours, our mother, Elsie C. (Purdy) Root, passed away peacefully in her sleep just six days after her 92nd birthday. This had been her wish for many years: a peaceful ending/ transition.
She was born on March 16, 1929 in Pasco, WA to John A. and Martha E. (Sparks) Purdy, their last child and only girl. (Momma's mother was from Paducah, Kentucky and came out west in a covered wagon with her sisters and parents (Daniel and Rebecca Sparks) to settle in the Soap Lake area of Washington as they'd been told the waters there had medicinal powers. Several of the sisters were afflicted with TB and hoped for a cure. Remnants of their homestead still remain. Our grandmother's doctor told her she was "too old" to have another baby when she found out she was carrying our mother, (she was in her early 40's) and that she needed to have an abortion. The story was told that our grandma looked at her doctor and quite firmly said, "NO!" Momma was called by her middle name, Clyde, in her early years.
There are many stories of her early years on the ranch which was situated near the Hanford/ White Bluff area along the Columbia River. They had no running water or electricity and she was thrilled to be the only girl as in the winter months, she got the first bath outside on the front porch with fresh and hot/ clean water! She was also amazed at how her mother could make such wonderful meals as they only took the horse drawn wagon to town once a month for supplies! The "halfway house" where they stopped to water the horses and eat their lunch still stands. Another memory that was dear to her heart was about her horse, Chubbs. There were no fences on the ranch, so she'd stand on their front porch and whistle for Chubbs who would run up to the porch so Momma could climb on, and away they'd go, bareback through the sagebrush.
Soon after her tenth birthday, our grandfather's health declined and the family readied themselves to move to Orting, WA to be near the Old Soldier's Home where he could receive medical care (he was a veteran of the Spanish American War). Mom laughed a lot with this story as she and her pregnant sister in law rode the entire way in the rumble seat of their old Model A! 'Twas not a smooth nor fast ride!
Our dad, James (Jim), was friends with all of mom's brothers and since he'd been orphaned before his fourth birthday, our grandma (whom he dearly loved) signed for both him and her youngest son (also named Jim) to enlist in the US Army before their 18th birthdays. The day they left our grandparents home to walk to the bus stop, (off to basic training and WWII) grandma held Momma's hand and walked partway after them. Once they stopped, the two young men walked on until our dad stopped, turned around and looked at both and then said, " I'll be back for her one day Mrs. Purdy." At the age of ten, mom had no idea what he meant; but 10 years later he did return, became the love of her life and on August 29, 1949 they married. The best thing dad brought to their marriage was his daughter from his first marriage, our sister, Barbara Jean, who mom loved dearly. We are so grateful that she was able to come from "far away California" and stay with us so often.
They had many wonderful years together with time spent in Austria, travels around Europe while stationed there and then to Australia years later (mom's favorite place). So many friendships that lasted a lifetime from their high school friends to friends made while on active duty, during dad's Army National Guard years, to many neighbors from El Paso, TX, Federal Way, Parkland, Olalla, Port Orchard, Gig Harbor, Guam, Selah, Desert Aire, Dupont and (where mom's life ended) back to Gig Harbor, WA.
We spent many years on Puget Sound waters skiing, boating, camping and fishing. One fond memory brings us back to Blake Island where mom was water skiing. She suddenly started to panic, waving at those in the boat and pointing -- a "small" whale had surfaced just beside her!
Mom graduated from Orting HS with the class of 1947 and a scholarship has been established in her name per her wishes.
Mom and dad added four more kids to their family: Patricia Ann 1952, Kathy Lee 1953 James Wayne II 1954 and Daniel Harold 1956.
Most of mom's family and friends preceded her in death with our dad passing in May of 2008, mom is to be cremated and placed with dad at Tahoma National Cemetery in Covington, WA with a private family gathering to honor and celebrate her life.
She is survived by their 5 children: Barbara Jean (Gary), Patricia Ann, Kathy Lee, James Wayne II (Kari) and Daniel Harold (Denice). Grandchildren: Michael, Linda, Devin, Kellie, Debra, Savannah, James III, Justin, Jason, Brandi and Lisa. Many great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and dear friends.
We will miss you Momma, but are so happy you are pain free and with everyone. Whistle for Chubbs and ride with wild abandon wherever you want. You are free.
Miss Me… But Let Me Go
When I come to the end of the road,
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room.
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little, but not too long,
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love we once shared..
Miss me.. but let me go.
For this is a journey that we all must take,
And each must go alone.
It is all part of the Maker’s plan,
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart,
Go to friends we know,
And bury your sorrow in doing good deeds..
Miss me.. but let me go.
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