Fern Stella Pomeroy
January 3, 1922 – March 27, 2018
Fern Stella (Borden) Pomeroy
January 3, 1922 - March 27, 2018
Fern Pomeroy, 96, of Renton Washington passed away at The Good Samaritan Adult Family Home on March 27, 2018. She suffered with dementia in recent years.
Fern was born January 3, 1922 to Artie and Martha Borden in Stratton, Colorado. She was the oldest of four children- Dorothy and twin boys Harold and Howard. The family had a dairy farm in Los Animas in eastern Colorado, until they lost everything to the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. They sold all of the cows except one because they could not grow enough grass to feed them. The children could not go to school because the dust clouds made the school house too dark.
In 1932, Fern was 10, Dorothy was 8, and the boys were 5. Their father packed everything into a wagon drawn by two horses. Their belongings included a cook stove to cook on along the way, chickens, a newborn calf, and a cow that walked along the side of the wagon. The family set out west for Florissant, Colorado via Ute Pass near Pikes Peak, to homestead. The trip is about 157 miles. Florissant is at 9100 feet elevation on the east side of the Rocky Mountains
Along the way people offered help but Fern’s father did not like to take handouts. The wagon got stuck in the mud near Ute Pass. The road was steep and the horses could not pull the load. A man came by with a vehicle and pulled them to the top of the pass. One of the horses died shortly after getting to Florissant. It took two to three weeks to arrive in Florissant.
Their homestead was 40 acres. Fern's father made a one room dirt floor log cabin with the neighbors help, dug a well, made an outhouse, a chicken house, and a rough barn for the wagon, horse and cow. The children went to a two room school for elementary school. Fern’s grandparents and some aunts soon came to live with them. Then her aunt, Cora, died in childbirth. Cora's 5 children were distributed among the grandparents and aunts, often 2 or 3 lived with Fern’s family.
Life was hard in the mountains. In winter, there were many times that they had little but bread and potatoes for dinner. Fern hitched the horse to a buggy or sleigh go to school in the sub zero winters. She drove the sleigh while her brothers huddled around hot rocks on the sleigh floor to stay warm She remembered that the mail man had a pet baby bear that bit his hand off one day and that a neighbor was killed by lightning while walking to his car from the house. One time she scalded her arm badly from boiling water that was heated on the woodstove, and on another occasion was rushed to the hospital in Colorado Springs for food poisoning from a red sucker. They grew their own, vegetables, beef, chickens and preserved
food for the winter in a root cellar. They grew potatoes, vegetables and chickens as cash crops that the kids harvested and sold on at their stand. Fern’s father sometimes went away to work for the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), after it was enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of the New Deal in 1933.
She enjoyed playing dolls with her friend while watching the sheep, and played in the willows. Sometimes they got 5-cent dill pickles from a barrel at the store.
When Dorothy went into 9th grade the girls were sent away to Colorado Springs to work as nannies and finish high school. Fern graduated from Colorado Springs High School in 1941 and started working at Kaufman Department Store.
Her father fulfilled the government requirements for the homestead and sold it. Then the rest of the family moved to Colorado Springs when the boys finished 8th grade in 1942. The boys joined the navy and left to fight in WWII.
Fern was active in youth activities at United Brethren Church in Colorado Springs. The church sponsored activities for the soldiers from Fort Carson where she first met Vernon. Vernon was trained as a medical corpsman and assigned to the USAHS Marigold, a hospital and transport ship for injured service men, first in the Mediterranean then the South Pacific. Vernon had a short leave in May 1945. He purposed and married Fern on May 23, 1945. He returned to the ship at the end of the two week leave. It hardly seemed to Fern that she was married. Japan surrendered September 2, 1945, and Vernon was discharged. They lived in Colorado Springs on the same street as Fern's grandparents, who she visited daily. Fern gave birth to Illa in July 1947.
In 1949, when Illa was 2 years old, they moved to Seattle. After Earl was born, they moved in November 1950 to a small farm in Arkansas. Vernon developed eczema on his legs during the war and it was worse in dry heat. The Veterans administration transported him to San Antonio Texas where he was hospitalized and Fern, Illa and Earl followed via Greyhound bus. San Antonio was believed to be a healthy place for skin disease. He only got worse. He would sit on the bed and his skin would flake off onto the floor. A physician told him he had to leave or he was going to die.
Ruth was born in 1952 in San Antonio, and when she was 6 weeks old, the family bought a dark green 1950 Chevy pickup, filled it with the washing machine, furniture and belongings, and headed to a cooler and higher humidity climate (Seattle). They had purchased a radio for the truck before they left San Antonio but it quit working the next day. Vernon was too sick to drive. Fern had not yet learned to drive. She drove while Vernon worked the shift and clutch. It was too hot to drive through the desert in the day. They were advised to drive through the night and to place a cardboard box with ice on the floor to help keep them cool until they could
get to the coast. There were two adults, a baby, a 1 year old and a small child all on the truck bench seat as they traveled.
Vernon’s health improved as soon as they got to San Diego, California, where there was marine air. They continued to Seattle and lived in subsidized public housing in White Center, near Mt View Presbyterian church where they fellowshipped. Vernon worked as a door-to-door salesman selling Watkins products.
When Ruth was 5 months old, she got sick and died from pneumonia. Ruth is buried in Riverton Crest Cemetery.
Fern became part of a women’s Sunday School Class taught by Dorothy Vinton. She challenged the women to memorize scripture and offered a study Bible as a reward for memorizing 150 verses. Fern reviewed the verses out loud as she did her house work. Illa particularly remembers hearing the verses about salvation and heaven over and over. Jerry once commented that he had always known the salvation verses. He did not need to learn them.
Vernon’s brother, Gerald, and his family were living in Foster near Tukwila. Vernon bought Gerald’s old house and Fern had twins, Alan and Alice in 1954. The family was living in a house of less than 900 square feet. A neighbor lady came over to their house in the mornings, so Fern could bathe and to help get the children up and ready for the day. Three years later Vernon got a job with Boeing, and things were better. There were 6 people including 4 children when they moved to the Burien area in January of 1957. Alan and Alice had just turned 3. Jerry was born in 1958.
The family had good times together. They went to the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962. It was the first world’s fair in the U.S. since before WWII. They had a great time. That was a year many relatives came to visit and the family also went camping at the ocean and in the San Juan Islands.
While growing up they went camping even in bad weather. They would huddle under tarps and sit by the fire if raining. When the rain let up a little they would dash out and gather more fire wood. As the kids got older they would bring friends along and go on day hikes. Vernon and Fern still raised and canned most of their fruits and vegetable. On one memorable trip Fern was making pickles which had to simmer for several hours. They were cooked on the edge of the camp fire in a dishpan. They were the best pickles ever with a little smoky flavor.
Fern taught piano lessons for many years to help bring in extra funds. She loved to can (most of the time) and always made great meals for family and guests, including church friends, relatives, and veterans. She was always baking, crafting, sewing, and did long term crocheting
projects making bedspreads, afghans, and pleated wool rugs . She enjoyed working with kids. She volunteered at church working with the kids club and in the nursery. She especially liked working with the babies.
Earl was in a car accident in December 1969. He lived two months and was buried at Riverton Crest Cemetery on February 14, 1970 as a result of his injuries.
When Fern applied for Social Security at age 62, she legally changed her name from Stella Fern Pomeroy to Fern Stella Pomeroy. She didn’t want to get her Social Security check written to Stella Pomeroy. She had always been called Fern.
In 1995 Fern and Vernon moved to Huntington Park, a retirement community in Des Moines, where they enjoyed walking and gardening. They then moved to The Chateau in Renton. Vernon passed away at age 90 in 2006. Fern suffered with dementia and moved to The Good Samaritan Adult Family Home in 2013, where she was well cared for and dearly loved, until her passing March 27, 2018.
Her real legacy was her love for the Lord Jesus and how that impacted her life and others around her. She genuinely loved others and devoted herself to them to show God's love through her. She struggled with losing two children and being in Seattle without close relatives. God was gracious and led her through these tough times. These events became blessings many years later when she realized that God gave her insight on how He had worked in her life even back then.
She was grateful that her grandparents had read and explained scripture to her when she was young, and that her mother made her and Dorothy go to Sunday School each week. When in Colorado Springs she dedicated her life to God and was baptized at 18. She continued on this spiritual journey in her private life by reading, praying, trusting, memorizing scripture, walking in God's world, and allowing Him to work in her life. She learned new things from classes, teachers, and instruction, and raised her family the same. She loved the Lord, and her family and prayed for people around her daily, that God would protect them, that he would work in their lives, so that they would love God as much as she did.
In her journal over the years she wrote, "I had a precious time with the Lord this morning first thing. It's so great to know that the Lord is my strength. That I can just feel his lovingness around me."
She also wrote, "About 10 o'clock I drove over to Seahurst Park and went for a walk. It was cloudy but beautiful over there. The seagulls were playing in the water like it was spring. It seemed like God almost spoke to me out of the waves rushing up on shore. Then His voice was
different out of the brook that rushed down. It was so quiet. The sound of the water was beautiful."
On March 9th 1978 she wrote, "This morning, as I was watching Vernon go to the car to work, I saw the crack of dawn. It was so neat to see, all of a sudden there was this bit of light. The birds were singing too. It immediately brought my mind to the thought of God, how he made everything. He left nothing out. His world is so beautiful."
She is preceded in death by her daughter Ruth (5 months), her son Earl (19 years), and her husband Vernon (90 years). She is survived by her children, Illa, Alan, Alice, and Jerry and her grandchildren, Laura and Grady.
Remembered and composed by Alice, Illa and Alan Pomeroy.
- Artie Borden, Father
- Martha Wence, Mother
- Vernon Pomeroy, Husband
- Alan Pomeroy, Son
- Alice Pomeroy, Daughter
- Illa Pomeroy, Daughter
- Jerry Pomeroy, Son
- Earl Pomeroy, Son
- Two Grandchildren, Grandchildren
- Visitation Wednesday, April 4, 2018
- Memorial Service Wednesday, April 4, 2018
- Graveside Service Thursday, April 5, 2018
Fern Stella Pomeroy
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