Myrtis Lynn (Pearce) North was born in Casper, Wyoming on August 30, 1931. She floated up to Heaven on January 26, 2020 at the age of 88.
She was the last of 6 children born to John Robert and Myrtis Lillian Pearce. Sadly, her mother died during her birth; thus, she was given her mother’s name, Myrtis. Bill and Alice Jarman (aunt and uncle) raised Myrtis separately from the rest of her family, and they became her “Mother and Daddy”. It wasn’t until October 1988 (at the age of 57) that she was reunited with 4 of her siblings (1 had passed by then).
Life growing up had some challenges, including a car accident when she was 6 that landed her in the hospital for nearly a year, moving from state to state (including 7 times one year) for her daddy’s work in the oil fields, living in less than luxurious housing, etc. Despite all of this, Myrtis talked about how she always felt loved.
There was also joy during childhood. At the age of 11, her family moved to Las Vegas to join her cousins’ family. Myrtis’ fondest memories were spending time playing with Ethel and Derron in Las Vegas and then later in Portland for a short time.
Once she moved to Portland, Myrtis attended Abernathy Grade School and then Commerce High School (now Cleveland). She studied office skills (typing, shorthand, bookkeeping) at Commerce and landed a job working for the school district upon graduation, where she worked there for 7 ½ years. Greba Logan hired her and became a significant mentor and friend in Myrtis’ life. Prior to the school district job, Myrtis worked in the berry fields and as a “soda jerk”.
Myrtis also talked about how meeting her husband (Norman A North) “saved her”. They met at a skating rink in Portland when she was 16 (he was 23), and after dating a while he insisted Myrtis and her mother move from their rundown apartment to a nicer place. They were married at Mt Tabor Presbyterian Church on June 16, 1950, and began building their life together.
Myrtis always dreamed of becoming a mother and homemaker. Her dreams came true when her first child, Sharon, was born in August 1956. Then came Pam in July 1958, Brian in August 1960 and Sandi in August 1961. Her happiest memories of young family life were Christmas holidays, birthdays, and even camping. She didn’t love the teenage years as much but said “the most rewarding experience was that you all turned out so great…”.
Another huge blessing in Myrtis’ life was her husband’s family. Although she didn’t have anyone from her own family in her life after her Mother passed away in 1961, her 3 sisters-in-law, 1 brother-in-law and their families lovingly filled that void with endless activities, birthday parties and holiday celebrations.
After 18 years as a homemaker, Myrtis decided it was time to venture out again, so she worked at Montgomery Wards and then Meier & Frank. She worked in various departments for 14 years; with her favorites being dresses and better sportswear (she loved nice clothes!).
Myrtis enjoyed the grown-up years with her growing family, including gaining 2 sons-in-law (Dean and Bob) and a daughter-in-law (Joan). She was so proud of her kids and their families, and she enjoyed every opportunity to spend time with them – holidays, birthdays, trips to the beach, eating out, shopping (she loved shopping!), and just spending time together made her happy.
When asked how she felt when she learned she would be a grandma, she said, “Very happy! I said if somebody didn’t have a grandbaby for me, I was going to go out and adopt one. It was great – wonderful!” Sean, Whitney, Kelley, Garrett and Courtney were the lights of her life. She danced and sang with them, taught them how to bake pies and sew, and just loved them so much. And there’s no doubt they loved her and their grandpa in return.
Norman left the family too soon (passed away on Christmas morning 2003), and this was a tremendous heartache for the entire family. Myrtis had tirelessly cared for him during his last couple years while battling prostate cancer, and it took a lot out of her. But with help from family, she got through the worst days and continued to enjoy times with her children and grandchildren. She also reconnected with her church and became a Deacon; something that gave her a great sense of joy and accomplishment. Another dream of Myrtis’ was to live long enough to have a great grandchild; and that dream came true as well! She loved experiencing 3 of her grandchildren’s weddings (Sean marrying Brooke, Kelley marrying Tyler, and Whitney marrying Jonathan), and then thoroughly enjoyed becoming a great grandma 4 times (with the 5th on the way)! Some of the most precious memories are Myrtis holding her great grandchildren for the first time, as well as their visits with her these past few years. Finley, Grady, Presley and Emerson were the latest joys of her life. She would totally light up when they visited and when she looked at new pictures and videos, and they were so loving and tender towards her.
Change was hard for Myrtis; moving from her home of 57 years to a retirement community for 6 years and then to an adult care home these past 3 months was difficult. She suffered from health ailments and was under the care of Hospice her last several weeks. Her caregivers and hospice team were complete angels, and she was very fortunate to have them.
Myrtis overcame the challenges from her early childhood, and lived a life filled with love and a strong faith in God. When asked what she would want to be most remembered for she said, “Loving my kids – that’s the most important accomplishment in life.” She loved her family with all her heart, and she knew how much they loved her as well. That gives her family great comfort at this difficult time…
Myrtis is survived by her children – Sharon, Pam (Dean), Brian (Joan) and Sandi (Bob); 5 grandchildren – Sean (Brooke), Whitney (Jonathan), Kelley (Tyler), Garrett and Courtney; 4 great grandchildren – Finley, Grady, Presley, Emerson, and 1 on the way; cousin Ethel; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at Mt Tabor Presbyterian Church (5441 SE Belmont St, Portland OR 97215) on Sunday, March 15 at 12:45 PM (service will start promptly at 1:00 PM); followed by a dessert gathering in the church basement.
In lieu of flowers, we request donations be made to Mt Tabor Presbyterian Church (5441 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215)
Date: Sunday, March 15, 2020
Time: 12:45 pm
Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church
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