Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Nelle Takacs 1907-2015
Nelle was a remarkable woman! Her astonishing life was marked by many memorable experiences for her and for the world.She lived through significant times of change: covered wagons, the invention of the automobile, World War I, the Great Depression, the invention of the television, World War II, jet airplanes, the civil rights movement, the ˙rst man on the moon, the Woodstock era, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the wars of the Middle East and fall of the Twin Towers to the times of the ˙rst black president, computer technology and Face-Time!
Nelle loved to talk about her past. She told stories of the end of World War I, of her dad getting so drunk he was banished to the barn to sleep it off, of a time meeting Andy Ryan, a Union veteran of the Civil War, and of the Great Depression when she had no furniture in their house and took in boarding school teachers to make ends meet.She told stories of World War II and the Germans from nearby prisoner of war camps coming to work their ˙elds. One day she allowed a POW to borrow the pickup. Fortunately, the German prisoner returned the vehicle, but Johnnie was “hopping mad!” “They were some of the nicest people we’d ever met.”
She told many stories of her parents and her family, of their hardships and their antics, in times when life was simple and family was everything.Nelle was born in Hartland, Wash., on Jan. 13, 1907, to Robert D. Cheyne and Frances Mae White. Her father wrote in his daily dairy of her birth, “Baby born. Little Nell. Snowed like hell.”
When Nelle was 18 months old, she fell into a well. Her mother, alerted by yells of alarm, ran and jumped into the well. Fanny held fast to a rope, supporting Nelle until the pair were dragged from the well by a team of horses.Nelle spoke fondly of her parents saying, “My dad was a real promoter, a going concern!” and her mom, “She was a quiet, good person. She had enough kids to drive anybody crazy!”
Nelle’s father was a hardworking wheat farmer who saw prosperity in Klamath County. After extensive planning, Nelle’s family left Washington in the fall of 1910 with four small children, traveling for three weeks by covered wagon to settle in the Klamath Lakes Basin.Nelle’s father and mother became prominent members of the area buying and farming many properties, making a fruitful life for themselves and their large family. Rob and Fanny eventually had 12 children all together, Viola, Bud, Nelle, Cecil, Alice, Bob, Mike, Lawrence, James, Rolo, Dale and Verna.
All the family worked hard on the Cheyne Ranch. Nelle helped her mother with the mob of younger siblings. She always blamed milking cows for her large hands and knuckles. Although Nelle disliked her hands, they gave joy to many others, past and present, through her love of sewing, quilting, baking, cooking, crocheting, embroidering, canning and gardening to name but a few.Nelle grew up in the Klamath Basin, getting her schooling in Fairview, Mt. Laki and Merrill.
In 1925, Nelle met Johnnie, the love of her life, at a Malin dance. He was a hardworking, hardplaying, motorbike riding farmer who Nelle fell head over heels for. They married Oct. 1, 1927, and moved to Tulelake to live with Johnnie’s parents, which proved to be quite trying for Nelle as Czech was the spoken language in the household. Johnnie worked hard farming potatoes, hay and grain in Tulelake and Lower Klamath Lake while Nelle cooked for the farming crew and the family.Nelle found the cooking difficult as it was all done on an old wood stove! One day she said, “I’m not cooking any more!” The next day, Nelle had a fancy new electric stove bought by her father-in-law to keep her happy and more importantly to keep her cooking!
In 1935, Johnnie and Nelle built their own home on Kandra Road. There, much of Nelle’s time was spent raising their three unique children Mervin, Margaret Ann, and Johnelle.Nelle and Johnnie worked the land, farming until 1978 when they retired and were able to holiday more in their trailer. One of their favorite spots was Medicine Lake, where Nelle favored camping in the meadow and entertained many grandchildren with camp˙res, ghost stories and toasted marshmallows. They also spent many memorable times at Indian Mary on the Rogue River. There, Johnnie enjoyed his favorite pastime, ˙shing for steelhead, and they both enjoyed the company of many good friends.
Nelle and Johnnie were together for 68 loving years, romantically holding hands and pinching bottoms until sadly Nelle lost Johnnie in 1995. Nelle and Johnnie’s relationship was one to aspire to, a love that held strong through good times and bad.Nelle lived in their family home until she was 101 when she moved to Pelican Pointe Retirement Home.
There are many fond memories from her house on Kandra Road: the smell of Nelle as you walk in the door, the larder with all of her preserves, her exercise “yoga” moves in her bra and panties, homegrown cut roses on the kitchen table, her eccentric hat collection, Christmas Eve with family and friends, fresh rhubarb pie in the oven, canned peaches for dessert, martinis at 5:00, and so many more!Nelle was always known for her incredible quilts, her tasty cookies and her lovely rose garden. We’re blessed Nelle passed on her many skills to her family and friends. Nelle was an inspiration, encouraging us to love the simplicities of life and appreciate life in the moment.
When asked her secret of living a long, fruitful life, she replied, “Cinnamon” and “I don’t ever plan; I just take things as they come. We work hard and play hard! I wouldn’t trade my life with anybody’s.”Nelle is survived by her youngest sister Verna, her daughter Johnelle, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and 19 greatgreat-grandchildren.
We will all miss her dearly as she was and will always be an inspiration to us all!Please sign the online guest book at www.heraldandnews.com/obituaries
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Page Updated: Sunday May 17, 2015 12:17 PM Pacific
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