Flora Martin Gates


Flora Martin Gates born to R. Homer and Maud Estelle (Nail) Martin on January 3, 1921 in Odessa, Oregon, Klamath County; as her life began at conception, she died at 100 years of age (99 birth years) on Palm Sunday morning, April 5, 2020 near Woodinville, Washington - making her own "Triumphal Entry" in through heaven's gates.

Maybe we over romanticize that you were raised on a farm in a log house, surrounded by woods. You pumped water from a well, cooked on a wood stove, milked cows and sold their milk and the butter you made. Bath time was once a week in the large kitchen in a big galvanized tub filled with water heated from the stove: dad (R. Homer Martin) and stepmother Mary (Whaley) first, then the two oldest kids (Bernice and Robert) before the water was dumped outside and refilled for the rest of the family (Neil, you, Lettie (Whaley), Wilma, and Ben (Whaley)) to take their turns - oldest to youngest.  The house was heated by the kitchen stove and the living room fireplace.  In winter time it was a very cold night time walk to the outhouse where the Sears catalog had other uses than reading and ordering from.

Sadly, your mother (Maud) had become ill a few days before your 7th birthday and died a few days afterward on January 10, 1928.

Growing up, most mornings found you and Lettie singing in harmony with Bernice on the piano.  You taught yourself to play the piano and read music by hearing "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" on the radio, finding each note on the piano, then the words in a hymnal, and finally the corresponding notes in the musical score.  You were also a crack shot! When gophers were destroying pasturage with their burrowing, you would be paid $ .25 per tail, shooting them from up to 50 yards away, and giving the money to your little brother, Ben, if he would perform the grisly deed of fetching the tail.

Your public school education culminated with an overall four point average.  As a graduating senior from Glendale high school, you received every award but one available to female students at the time.
Then on to Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, working your way through school: as a live-in maid, waitressing, working in the shipyards constructing naval vessels during World War 2, and caring for a sister (Wilma) who was struck by polio. (After working in the vessels while under construction, you also had the privilege of presiding in the formal "court" of dignitaries when the vessels were christened.)
Leaving school early to answer the need for wartime school teachers, you later returned to college where you meet Dad. You were married on February 26, 1948 in Boise Idaho. Next came 5 kids (there were no disposable diapers or baby diaper services), PTA's, helping your children with homework; cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.  Upon acquiring a neighbors' unwanted piano, you would accompany yourself singing favorite tunes, as well as the rest of the family, during Christmas and family gatherings; and being sure your kids were familiar with the piano keyboard.  For those of us who were interested, you taught us to play it and the guitar - you are the only one we knew who could yodel!

By 1951 you lived in Seattle (Jeff and Tim had been born in Oregon) where Mary, Terri, and Elizabeth Sue [Libby] were born. In the spring of 1963 the family moved to Bothell. As your kids began graduating from public school, you got your drivers license, returned to work with Headstart, and then on to complete your BA and MA degrees in education at Seattle Pacific College in Seattle; followed by over 20 years in the Northshore School District at Cottage Lake and Wellington Elementary.

Out of all the years you taught, you spent most of your teaching career as a first grade teacher. While kindergarten was supposed to get children used to a classroom environment, first grade was where an interest and excitement about learning itself could be inculcated. Since children maturated at different rates, it meant that when reading or arithmetic, etc. was introduced not all were capable of understanding the concepts. How the teacher handled each students responses could affect the child's self image: self confidence in facing new things, attitude toward a particular subject, or the ability to work through difficult situations. You took great delight in seeing each child successfully awaken to their new challenges and especially to hear of their continuing success as they advance on through elementary school and beyond.

Dad's death on January 10, 1989 dealt us all a terrible blow! But you continued on as you and Dad had done: caring for grandkids, tutoring those needing help with school, information central in keeping us all updated with family news and activities, hosting large family gatherings; but then adding some volunteer work such as with the Northshore Senior Center. Sadly, gone were the quiet moments you shared with Dad over a morning cup of coffee, your regional trips around the countryside in your motor home, and attending Seahawks' games as original issue season ticket holders.

Since Dad's death, every Memorial day you have taken a thermos of coffee and a lawn chair to Pleasant Ridge Cemetery in order to sit next to Dad's grave and the tombstone engraved with the couple standing next to a flowing stream, and have a cup of coffee with Ozzie.

By the end of the 1990s, you oversaw your move to Maltby, Washington (near Woodinville) immediately followed by double knee replacement surgery. Your extended family surprised you in January 2011 on your 90th birthday with a 3 day party in the snow at Huntley Lodge. And you blessed us with return trips to the lodge for the next six years (and you went sledding with us for how many of those years?).

I know that this is a very sketchy biography, but hope it serves in honoring you, your unique personality, and the many occasions where you interjected those qualities into the many lives and situations of your time.
Finally (though not conclusively), thank you for being our mother, for your love, devotion, and commitment to all five of us, and all our families. On a number of occasions you have said that you were not the "touchy feely" grandmotherly type - the type grandchildren could easily warm up to. None-the-less this did not change the love and commitment you have displayed for your family, friends, and students over the years!

We love you, Mom, Flo, Grandma, Great Grandma, Aunt, friend,
Jeff (Elizabeth), Tim, Mary, Terri, Libby (Brian), and many grandchildren and great grandchildren

  • Taylor A.K.A. One of the great grandkids (Posted: May 01, 2020)
    Hi! We all miss grandma so much we all miss her smile her laugh and her feistiness but she was a sweetheart.
  • Taylor. Aka grandmas flora gates great granddaughter (Posted: May 01, 2020)
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