Helen Mary Westaby
(1915 - 1997)
The following Ancestory was written by my 13-year-old daughter as part of an Art project called "Venerations". The students in her middle school art class were instructed to pick one family member they wished to honor. They learned to draw a portrait using the grid technique of enlarging and copying. They researched the life of their subject within a historical context, and wrote a report. The final draft of the report was done in calligraphy, a new skill for many of the students. Lastly, an open house was held to display their results. I was impressed by the quality of work presented by these young people, both in art and in writing.
"Grandma Tucker, my great-grandma, was born in 1915. Many important things happened in that year. Warren G. Harding was the U.S. president. On February 12, in Washington, D.C., the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was put into place.
"The big movie that year was The Birth of a Nation starring Lillian Gish. A hit recording was Carry Me Back to Old Virginia by Alma Gluck. A popular book was North of Boston by Robert Frost.
"My great-grandmother was loved by all. She was everyone's favorite grandma or great-grandma.
"I know her best as Grandma Tucker, but she was born as Helen Mary Westaby on October 28th, 1915 in Glendive, Dawson County, Montana. When she was seventeen, she married John Franklin Midkiff, II, my great-grandfather. That day was November 28th, 1932. They had three children, including my grandfather. My great-grandparents divorced before 1956. Helen married again, to Clifford I. Tucker, on May 18th, 1956.
"Grandpa and Grandma Tucker's farm was one of my favorite places to go. I have memories of Grandma Tucker's food, talking with my great-grandparents, sitting in their living room, hanging clothes on their clothesline, and raking leaves with my three girl cousins long after dark.
"Great-grandpa Tucker passed away on June 29th, 1997, from heart problems. A few months later, my great-grandmother passed away, too. That day was November 8th, 1997, when she was 86 years old and I was a few days away from my seventh birthday. She was laid to rest on the 13th, at Lower Valley Memorial Gardens in Sunnyside, Yakima County, Washington." (obituary)
--by Melissa Midkiff
More facts about Helen Mary Westaby:
Sometime between her birth in 1915 and before 1920, her family moved to Forsyth, Rosebud County, Montana.
In 1920, her family moved to the Yakima Valley in Washington State. They do not appear any where in the 1920 Federal Census, so they must have missed both the Montana and Washington census takers during their move. George Westaby had a cousin, Charles Thomas Westaby, who was already living in the Yakima Valley, and that may have been a factor for settling in the area.
In 1930, the Westabys were living in a rented house on the Inland Empire Highway in Parker, Yakima County, Washington...not too far away from Helen's future husband's family. John Midkiff was living with his mother and step-father, Margie Ethel (Tolliver) and Kenneth Macrum Daves just down the road.
Helen attended Parker Heights Elementary School near the town of Sawyer, Franklin Junior High School in Yakima, and Wapato High School in Wapato. All three communities are in Yakima County, Washington. She started school a year early, and graduated high school in 1932, at the age of 16 1/2.
Helen and John were married in Yakima. Helen and Cliff were married in Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho. At their marriage, Helen became a step-mother to Cliff's two adult sons. She and Cliff lived on the outskirts of Sunnyside, Yakima County, Washington.
Helen worked for many years at a dry-cleaning business in Sunnyside. She was a devout Lutheran.
She loved camping and fishing, especially at Deer Lake in Lincoln County, Washington. She always had a garden (vegetables and flowers), and loved cats. She was one of the sweetest, gentlest people I know, and is loved and missed by many.
More about my husband's grandmother, Helen Mary Westaby, will be found in the upcoming AnceStories of her parents George Rice Westaby, III, and Rena Lerfald, her first husband, John Franklin Midkiff, II, and her second husband, Clifford I. Tucker..
Thanks to Aunt Carol for the photos, and to Missy for all her hard work on the "Venerations" project.
Miriam (Robbins) Midkiff
created: 20 Dec 2003
updated: 27 Dec 2004
© Miriam Midkiff, Melissa Midkiff, 2003 - 2006