Alice Mae Gillenwater, 96, passed away Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, in Lakeview.
She was born to Estelle (Johnson) and Louis Johnson on the Wind River Reservation in Riverton, Wyo., on July 9, 1925. Her parents homesteaded on Soda Mountain on the Green Springs near Ashland.
The family left the homestead and moved to Paisley in May 1937. Household belongings were moved in open trucks with racks by a Green Springs neighbor. Alice and her sister, Helen, immediately enrolled in Paisley School and promptly got “kicked out twice” as her sister told the story. Though both were exemplary Ashland students, the Paisley teacher deemed they had “scabies” and sent them home. Their mother took them to Paisley physician, Dr. Hanson, who diagnosed the condition as eczema and had them return to school only to have them removed again. The teacher would not give them their report cards, causing Estelle to write to Ashland requesting former teachers provide grade reports. The Paisley teacher was a secretly married female and at that time it was not permissible for married women to teach as the jobs were to go to males to support their families. This was the end of The Depression era. The girls in later life laughed about getting “kicked outta grade school twice.“
Alice was Paisley School’s 1943 valedictorian and Daly Fund recipient and attended Southern Oregon Normal School taking a new program called secretarial science. This was during World War II and there were only about 50 students in the school and only two were males. She worked at ZX Ranch when she graduated from high school and returned there when she finished her year at SON. She was assistant bookkeeper when W. W. “Buster” Vaughn was superintendent. Office co-workers were Robert “Bob” Severn bookkeeper and Bill Cannon also the assistant bookkeeper. Alice had many fond memories of her ten years at the ZX and thought she learned more there than anything she’d learned in school. Her memory of employees’ names and the type of work they did from the 1940s and 1950s was phenomenal. She said over 200 people were employed during hay harvest. Revisiting the ZX office 60 years after leaving, she reminisced where co-workers sat, wood stove location, and pointed to a wall where the crank phone hung. There was no restroom in the office so a trip to the garage or superintendent’s house was necessary to use facilities.
While working at the ZX Ranch six days a week, Alice was also Paisley School board clerk from about 1951-54. She enjoyed her Rebecca lodge membership.
Alice married Grover Morgan in 1946, in Carson City, Nev. and they had a daughter, Brenda. Alice and Grover separated in 1955 and Alice moved to Bend where she resided for about 50 years. Alice married Bill Gillenwater in 1957, and they had a daughter, Dena and, adopted Marie in 1969.
Alice and Bill were founding members of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bend. Alice enjoyed knitting, spinning, weaving and was a member of the Central Oregon Spinners and Weavers Guild for many years.
Alice moved to Paisley in 2015 and enjoyed pinochle, exercise group and walking around town visiting.
She was preceded in death by: husband, Bill; and her daughter, Marie.
She is survived by: her daughters, Dena Gillenwater (Bob Lammert) and Brenda Morgan (Jim Baldwin); five grandchildren; and two great-grandsons.
Desert Rose Funeral Chapel is overseeing the arrangements. Condolences may be expressed, or the guest book signed online at www.desertrosefuneralchapel.com.