Emily Edith Botsford
February 12, 1925 – February 24, 2021
Link to live stream services https://vimeo.com/534946734/281471427a
Emily Edith Gilliland was born February 12th, 1925 in the home of her parents, Hallie and Rena Gilliland, on Denver Street in the small town of Pawnee, Oklahoma.
Downtown Pawnee consisted of one main street with a grocery store, dry goods, drugstore, dime store, bank, post office, feed store, and the gas station where her Dad, Hallie worked. Emily remembered her Dad as one of the kindest men she knew. He was also adventurous. He once told her that as a young man he enjoyed riding horses but also did trick riding on two horses. Hallie would stand with one foot on each horse’s back, holding both sets of reigns, and gallop around the pasture. Her mother Rena, a former teacher, looked after the family and also the garden she loved. She could make anything grow and although the family had very little income, they never went hungry.
Emily was named after her great grandmother Emily and Rena’s sister Emily. Her middle name came from her Grandmother Burgman whose middle name was Edith. Emily had one sister, Velma, who was seven years older and passed away in 2018, and one brother, Hallie Jr., who passed away as a toddler before Emily was born. Emily’s earliest memory of home was having a picture taken with her sister Velma out by their front porch with Emily insisting her doll had to be in the picture. She also recalled their kitchen being one step lower than the living area, and they had gas lights.
Their yard was at the side of the house; it sloped downhill a little and was pretty uneven. Playing croquet was challenging, but the yard was great for cartwheels, handsprings, and other acrobatics that both Emily and Velma enjoyed. Their very favorite hiding place was under the front porch. They also sang together—not to entertain anyone but themselves—Emily singing alto to Velma’s soprano. Emily’s favorite place in town was the Dime Store. She didn’t have money to spend, but there were so many things to look at and wish for.
Emily recalled that when she was young Pawnee Bill had a small rodeo. When a few of his buffalo got loose and started snooping around their home her mother pulled Emily into the house right away. When one of the critters began to nose his way onto their porch her mother proceeded to whack it on the head with a broom stick until it backed off. Then another time she grabbed her garden hoe and killed a threatening rattlesnake in the yard. One could say that the example of perseverance and dealing with life as it came was given to Emily very early in her life.
The family worshiped at the First Christian Church in Pawnee—a stone building with stained glass windows. Emily’s mother told her when Emily was small, she would stand on the seat beside her parents and sing the hymns—whatever words she knew. Her mother said, “God Lifted Me” was Emily’s favorite hymn.
When Emily was 11 years old, her parents packed up whatever they could fit in their car and moved the family to Puyallup, Washington. Emily recalled the many things they had to leave behind simply because there was not room: many of her mother’s special possessions such as her china and things that had belonged to her own mother. Emily talked about having to leave behind her beloved doll house and how she cried in the car for miles and miles – until her mother turned around and said she’d “had enough of that.” Deep down, Emily knew her mother was also grieving the possessions the family had to leave behind.
Once the family arrived in Puyallup, a kind man offered a job to the family to pick his raspberries for a small income which helped with room and board. After some time Hallie was able to find work as a mechanic, and then later owned his own gas station and mechanic shop on Fruitland Avenue. Rena ran the small store attached to the station. Emily grew up in Puyallup helping in the store and going to school. In high school, she met Bernie Botsford who was a grade ahead of her. One could say that when Emily made a decision she was determined to be all in and didn’t look back. Case in point: Emily attended a high school dance and one of those decisions was to cut in on Bernie and his date on the dance floor. The rest, as they say, is history. The family fondly recalls Emily sharing, “I chased him until he caught me!” Bernie and Emily were married January 6th, 1944, while Bernie was on leave from the Air Force. Ten days later Bernie shipped out to the Pacific Theater as a B-25 tail gunner during WWII and they did not see each other for over two years.
They wrote each other every single day while Emily lived with her parents and worked. Once Emily received the exciting news that Bernie would be coming home safe and sound she was overjoyed—but in her excitement while picking him up at the train station she saw him… and just steered the car toward where he was standing, driving the car over a curb almost hitting him! Emily giggled about that all the years of her life. Once Bernie was home they decided to burn all their letters to each other because they reflected such a sad time of war and it was so hard to be away from each other. They saved just one letter—the one where Bernie wrote to say he was coming home.
Their first home together was on 9th Street in Puyallup in the house once owned by Bernie’s grandparents. The house was right across from Bernie’s parents, L.B. and Harriet Botsford, who helped out often with their soon-to-be growing family.
In 1946 Bernie and Emily welcomed their first child, Steve, and in the 14 years that followed welcomed 5 more children: Jim, Mark, Paul, Dean, and Lisa. Just before Dean was born, the family built and moved into their home on Fruitland Avenue next to Emily’s parents. While Bernie worked as a salesman, Emily ran the home. She was small, but boy was she mighty. Her children learned to “respond well” to her requests the first time she asked anything of them. If a child made a poor decision, that decision and the child’s bottom were met with something other than a smile. Just ask the child who made the decision to run from Emily and climb a tree to escape her. What exactly was it like to have Mom climb up that tree after you and bring you down with her? Our guess is, it was terrifying. Attempted getaways in Red Flyer wagons were also met with the same grim outcome. Yes - small, but oh so mighty.
The family attended the First Christian Church in Puyallup. They enjoyed camping vacations and a huge garden in the summer, with Emily canning and freezing much of the harvest. Her ability to feed a large family of eight, including 5 boys with huge appetites, was a feat in and of itself, but her meals were always plentiful, beautiful, and delicious.
At the age of 46, Emily lost her leg due to injuries from a traffic accident. As we said before, when Emily made a decision she was determined to be all in, and this was exemplified in her learning to walk with a prosthetic leg, acclimating over the months to once again care for her family, Bernie and the four children who were still at home. For easier gardening, Bernie built Emily some beautiful flower boxes on their balcony which she filled with flowers and herbs. Much like her mother, Emily loved making things grow and she excelled at it.
Emily volunteered at Good Samaritan Hospital on the Transportation Department phones, this being the same hospital where she gave birth to all her children, and had recovered following the accident. She continued to sing in the church choir, singing many solos on Sundays, at weddings, at memorial services. Her singing ability was only one of the many gifts God gave her, but she always shared it willingly and with love.
Just as before, Emily continued to live a life of love for God and others, welcoming their children’s spouses into the family with open arms. As many people know, Emily didn’t do “in-laws”. To her, she had 6 sons and 6 daughters and she treated them all as such. The feeling was completely mutual and to say that she was deeply loved in return would be a complete understatement.
In 1998, Bernie and Emily made the hard decision to move from Puyallup and the home they had built and raised a family to King City, Oregon. Without hesitation, they placed their membership at Tigard Christian Church having visited there many times over the years. They attended as a couple, enjoying 55 years of marriage until Bernie went home to his Lord in 1999. He was the great love of her life, but as Emily would later write in a journal about Bernie, “I haven’t lost him, I know where he is.”
Emily continued to worship at TCC later NCC, encouraging the many relationships that came her way with her famous smile and warm hugs. She “adopted” many into her fold, several of which called her ‘Mom’, ‘Grandma Emily’, and countless others who simply called her ‘Friend’.
As Emily’s family expanded with more and more grandchildren, her invitations to celebrations, sports games, ballet and music recitals, and dinners came with rapid fire. With such a large family, holidays were spent individually, and Emily said she actually really enjoyed her children’s playful arguing over ‘who got Mom’ and when. Even with all the invitations she somehow made time for everyone, because as she put it, her family was her favorite hobby.
Throughout her years in dealing with the occasional falls, phantom leg pain, hospitalizations, cancer surgeries, and chemotherapy, Emily continued to set examples not only for her children and grandchildren, but for all those who came in contact with her—examples of what it looks like to persevere when life is more than tough, what it looks like to continue to believe God has your best interests at heart especially on those tougher days, what it looks like to have active compassion for others—visiting and talking with fellow amputees when they felt they may have nothing left to offer this world. Our circumstances do not define who we are, but living as an amputee still gave Emily a choice of how to live within her circumstances. She chose to live with joy, because she knew that in Christ, she could truly do all things—she knew to Whom she must go for strength and knew she needed a lot of it. She lived her entire life in that truth and never hesitated to share it, even after she left this earth. For example, found in her Bible was a note to her grandchildren. It said this: “You are first of all, God’s children, but I thank Him every day for the privilege of having you for my grandchildren. When you are faced with heavy troubles, stand straight and lift your chin, not in arrogance or pride, nor forced indifference, but in the strength God gives you to get through it.” Can you hear the absolute love and wisdom in those two sentences?
In all of Emily’s 96 years, February 24th was most likely her favorite day. In the early morning hours, she met Jesus face-to-face—and we believe she ran to Him on two strong, good legs. She was surrounded by her family, loved and prayed for through every moment of her journey there. We all mourn immeasurably at our loss, yet at the same time we’re immeasurably overjoyed at her homecoming into the arms of Jesus. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Your children still stand and bless you.
Emily is survived by all her children: Steve and Helen Botsford of Orting, WA, Jim and Terry Botsford of Port Orchard, WA, Mark and Mona Botsford of Newberg, Paul and Julie Botsford of Portland, Dean and Linda Botsford of Molalla, Kyle and Lisa Bernard of Tigard. Emily’s incredible legacy also includes 27 beloved grandchildren, 44 beloved great grandchildren, and 2 beloved great-great grandchildren. She was many things in her life to those she loved: daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, cousin, grandmother, great grandmother, great-great grandmother, and friend, but she also knew her most privileged title was ‘Child of God’. Her joy and longing was to be with Jesus, share Him with everyone she knew and loved, and be reunited with them in heaven in God’s time.
Perhaps you may not know Jesus the same way Emily does, or perhaps you don’t even know that you really want to. But ask yourself this: knowing Emily, who she was, how she lived her life, and how she loved—at the end of your days on earth don’t you want to be where Emily is? What she knew and what she would share with you today, is that Jesus sacrificed His life for her—and for you. With His life He paid a debt on our behalf as a gift, willingly and lovingly, and all we have to do is accept this incredible gift. Where Emily is now, you can be too. Emily is with Jesus, and her wish for your life would be that you are there with Him as well. Emily’s entire life reflected the very real love of Jesus so in a sense, you have already seen Him, in her. Your next step could be life-changing in a way you might never have imagined. So, be like Emily, and get to know Jesus—we would love to help you do just that.
P.O. Box 13679, Portland, Oregon 97213
Saturday, April 10, 2021
Emily Edith Botsford
April 8, 2021
Emily was always happy to see us when we visited Kyle & Lisa. Always had a smile! Will truly miss her. Barbara & Charlotte
Linda & Martin Messer
April 7, 2021
Dear Lisa and Kyle, So sorry to hear of your loss of your dearest Mother, Emily!
She always had such kind words to say, and she would always shine her sincere and happy smile your way.
Looking forward to seeing you both in person in a few weeks after we have had our 2nd Covid vaccines!
We are keeping you and your family in our prayers.
Blessings, Martin, Linda & Cheyenne
March 31, 2021
We were so grateful to know Emily over the years-she was a true example of a Proverbs 31 woman of God. See you again, Emily. Tom and Loretta Richardson
March 30, 2021
Emily could pick up on a conversation you had with her as if it were yesterday. A very classy lady who loved her family dearly. She was selfless. She will be missed.
March 1, 2021
Emily was a wonderful lady! She always made me laugh and she was always smiling! Our prayers and hearts are with the Bernard and Botsford families!
Ken and Sandi Doherty