Today we celebrate and remember, Willie June Armistead’s well lived 96 years. She loved life and it loved her right back! Her amazing spirit shined like a beacon to create new friends from perfect strangers; while her fierce independence allowed her to live on her own till the very end.
She taught us 5 kids to enjoy every moment, especially to be thankful and always appreciate the little things, just like she did. Mom loved to dance, laugh, smile and inspire others to enjoy a zest for life. Perhaps her dancing repertoire started in grade school by winning tap-dancing contests at 9 and 14 years old.
Born in Gunnison, CO; Willie was the 14th of 16 kids. As you might imagine, Willie was quick to share numerous fascinating stories of life in rural America from the 1930’s and ‘40s. Like hanging freshly washed clothes outside in the middle of winter where they froze. Shake off the ice icicles to find the clothes almost dry. Or snow drifts so deep, they had to tunnel from the house to the barn to feed the livestock. She carried creek water in a lard bucket to the house.
As a young teenager, her family relocated to Alger, WA where she helped her dad build the family’s log cabin and later helped build the log cabin where her first two children spent their early years. At the start of WWII, Willie made bandages and collected scrap metal to support the war effort. She was 18 before she had her first date, being forced to take her brother and sister along as chaperons.
Her first drink was at 48 with martini’s becoming her favorite. Vodka straight-up, 3 big olives and the ice it was shaken with on the side. Married 4 times, Willie’s favorite story for the gullible was that “3 of them died from eating poison mushrooms. The 4th one died of a broken neck because he wouldn’t eat the mushrooms!”
The love of her life was Gene Armistead. They traveled, were snowbirds to Arizona for many years, laughed, dined and danced.
Perhaps you’ve heard one of her “Granny-isims”: You’re worth your weight in goober peas. I’d rather have a cold-water enema than do that. Or, You’re not brand new, but you’re OK!
In her lifetime she saw “the man in the moon”, become a man on the moon.” Other inventions included: sliced bread, Mickey Mouse, penicillin, Legos, Sputnik, TV & color TV, computers & cell phones.
Through the ups and downs of life, her faith in the Lord sustained her to keep a generally positive attitude while spreading a smile. (in between hugging those grand babies).