Submitted by Sandy Michael
Eunice Whiting was born on a homestead near Hebron, North Dakota on Oct 20, 1918 to James and Clara Johnson. She grew up with 2 sisters and 4 brothers. She had a wonderful hard working father and mother and with that had some remarkable experiences. Her father during the off months of mining had horses and constructed new roads across North Dakota. During the summer months the family travelled with their father, the horses drawing a large wooden wagon used for cooking and living. A canvas tent was brought for the kids to sleep in. This time is remembered with a smile when Eunice shares. During her junior and senior years of high school her mom ran a boarding house and bunk house for mine workers. Eunice remembers this as one the best memories of her life helping her mom each morning make breakfast for all the men. This early work ethic stayed with Eunice her entire life.
During her high school years she loved to dance. There were no sports offered at her school and Eunice danced as often as possible. Her companion to dances and to spend time with was Harold Whiting. Harold had a car and Eunice was always going places with him. Asked if it was love at first sight, ” she said no, but he grew on me” That relationship lasted 66 years. Eunice graduated in 1936 and married Harold in 1937. It was hard to find work in Zap, North Dakota their home town. If you didn’t speak German, jobs were scarce.
In 1942, Bremerton, Washington was their new home. Harold worked at the Navy shipyard. Life was good and their first child Earl was born. In 1945, Eunice’s husband came down with tuberculosis and was admitted for a year to a sanitarium for isolation and care. Eunice’s father also died in 1945 at the early age of 56. Eunice’s mom moved in with Eunice and lived with her and her family for 20 years. Eunice even though pregnant with her second child, began working at the Navy shipyard as a rail freight checker while her husband couldn’t work. Many times during my interview with Eunice she kept repeating “ You do what you have to do to get by .” Eunice second child, a sweet baby girl named Gay Patrice was born in August of 1946. Eunice loved being a mother and wife. In 1949 Eunice and her husband moved to Montesano and bought a shoe repair business and they also sold men and boys shoes. Harold worked the business and Eunice stayed home with children, ran the home, and always had a wonderful home cooked meal on the table every evening. One of her favorite meals to prepare was meatballs and gravy. Church was important and they attended weekly with many church family gatherings throughout the year. Eunice supported her son’s love of sports and her daughter’s love of music. In 1961, her son graduated from high school and head to Grays Harbor Community College and Eunice was right alongside him. Eunice took the LPN nursing courses and loved every minute of it. After graduating she worked at the Aberdeen Hospital with medications her specialty. She loved nursing and eventually took her second nursing job at Oakhurst in Elma. Eunice had a 20 year career in nursing.
In 1965, they sold the shoe repair business and Harold began working at a saw mill. Eunice was always proud of her husband’s work ethic and reinventing himself. In 1969, Harold and his son, Earl started a logging truck business, which soon grew into over 20 trucks on the road. Eunice’s daughter Gay studied education at Central State College and was a teacher for over 40 years in the Renton School district. Eunice’s grin increases as she speaks of her children’s accomplishments. Eunice and her husband retired in 1981 and spent winters in the Palm Springs area. They had a travel trailer and would join their children at Mason Lake for many summer outings and great swimming parties. Eunice has 5 grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren.
Eunice lost Harold in 2003 after 66 married years and over 80 years of knowing each other. Eunice shared it was the hardest time in her life. Eunice experienced a second loss in 2015, her son Earl passed away.
In 2012 Eunice moved into the Colonial Inn Retirement Apartments in Olympia. Asking Eunice about how she fills her days now; her morning begins with coffee, toast and fruit. She listens to audio books because now at 100 years old her eyesight is failing. She just completed “The Thorn birds”. She attends Bible study, plays cards and cherishes all family time.
Asking Eunice if there is anything she wishes she would have done, her reply is instant “go for more schooling and become an R.N”. There were no R.N. schools near the Montesano, Aberdeen area.
When asked what advice she would want to share with the younger generation, her reply “ No extremes and stay close to God.”
Eunice is a marvel. She remembers every date, every home they lived in, every last detail even the story of her mom injecting her father diagnosed with bone cancer with snake venon. Eunice is one sharp cookie. She is alert, smiling and always sees the good in each of her days.
Her family with be celebrating her birthday with a wonderful lunch and carrot cake. Hold the raisins Eunice doesn’t like them.