Thursday, June 12, 2014

Grandma Jo

I first met Grandma Jo Gates when my husband and I were dating.  She was an interesting person, I was this 'hick' from Wyoming who had just moved to California and was going through a sort of culture shock, she shared with me that she had moved to California with Grandpa Mel from Nebraska and that she had been born in Iowa.  I was born in Iowa and this made us instant 'kin'!  :)

I think she was already working on the genealogy back then in 1980, but I didn't talk to her about it until she started sending out questionnaires and then browbeating each of us till we turned them back in!  Maybe the appearance of great grandchildren spurred her on, whatever it was she was focused on getting as much as possible done before she died.  Born 6/26/1907 she was already pushing 80 when I met her and by the time she had great grands she was talking about getting things done before she died.  She ended up living to be 100 years old and in the last 20 years of her life she learned to use the computer, published a monthly family newsletter, compiled and edited her brothers diary, and researched the family tree back quite a few generations, went to Europe (amongst other trips) and served on the complaint board at the assisted living facility! 

Knowing her - none of the above listed accomplishments are really a surprise.  I will never forget the first time I saw her dance!  We had taken a houseboat trip, David and I, his parents and Grandma Jo, on the river delta near Stockton.  We had a wonderful trip and one night we stopped at a restaurant on the river that had a band that played big band era music and she and her son, my father in law (whom I knew as the very staid Rockwell engineer) 'cut a rug'!  They looked like 'Fred and Ginger', and I heard the story about how she had taught dance lessons to help earn money for her young family, and how her boys learned to dance from her. 

She worked as a telephone operator in North Platte Nebraska when she married Grandpa Mel.  When they moved to California he worked in markets and eventually had his own market.  She gave birth to 3 boys, was widowed at age 62 and left a lasting legacy. 

I wanted to introduce Grandma Jo because so much of the Gates side of the genealogy has been begun or worked on by her and she got most of the DAR paperwork ready for those who follow along behind her.  She and I had many discussions about family histories and I got to hear the stories from her directly.  What a gift!  In the next few weeks I will introduce some of the members of each of these 4 main families who told the family stories that got me interested in the history of these relatives as well as the names and birth dates of the ancestors!

Francis Josephine Kline Gates
1/26/1907 Malvern, Mills IA - 2/5/2008 Scottsdale, Maricopa, AZ
Grandma Jo 1987 with Wm Niel

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