Marna Hing (March 19, 1941 to August 8, 2010)
Some Love Is Like a Flower
(a song lyric)
Some love is like a flower
Grows so beautiful and strong
But, flowers grow in seasons
And those don’t last too long
Some love is like a windmill
On a gusty-windy day
But, then sometimes the wind will stop
And the purpose goes away
Some love is like a sweet, sweet song
So mellow to the ear
But most of us are deaf or mute
So we lose what’s close and dear
Some love is like a long-lost friend
Kept inside your heart
So, if a newfound friend is there
You both will have a start
Some love is good; some love is bad
Some love was meant to be
And now, I’d like to share with you
The love inside of me
My love is like an ocean
So wide, so deep ‘n strong
Unlike the flowered seasons
My love goes on and on
~ Gary “Spyder” Lewis
Groundwaters, Summer 2009
By Pat Edwards
How is it possible to sum up over 35 years of friendship in a short eulogy? Don’t get me wrong… Marna’s and my friendship wasn’t the kind of “buddies-pals-and-partners” arrangement where we hung out together and had coffee every day. In fact, I’m wondering how good a friend I was, for in the end, I wasn’t there much for her… But, I think that she knew that all she had to do was ask and I would come running. That was the problem. Marna was not a complainer. She bore all of the infirmities that descended upon her over the past 15 years with a strength and resiliency that I can only marvel at. She was a fighter and was fiercely loyal to her friends and family.
Marna Lee Helser Hing
Actually, my husband Jim knew Marna and Bob before I did. Before moving to Lorane in 1971, they frequently shopped at the Mayfair Market in Santa Clara where Jim was manager for several years. They came to have a nodding acquaintance and immediately recognized each other when they met again at one of the Lorane events. Like many in our generation, Marna and Jim shared a mutual liking for Elvis Presley and his music. Marna, especially, was a huge Elvis fan. The four of us – Marna, Bob, Jim and I – also shared a love for card games, pinochle, especially, and in the early years of our friendship, we spent some fun evenings playing the game.
I officially got to know Marna back in the mid-1970s when I took on the role of the Lorane 4-H coordinator. It was my mission to find leaders and kids to form various types of 4-H clubs in the area. I had already found leaders for the livestock clubs – beef, sheep, swine, rabbit, etc. – and cooking and sewing clubs, but I was still seeking leaders for groups that would allow kids to explore other kinds of interests. Marna approached me about forming a dog obedience club, as she was active in dog obedience groups at the time. She had a special way with dogs… she loved them – all animals, really – and they loved her in return. At the time, she had a couple of wonderful Doberman Pinschers, Bonnie and Zorro, who despite their breed’s reputation, were sweethearts. Marna’s 4-H club proved popular and her kids learned a lot about the patience and quiet determination that it takes to train an animal… areas that they were able to carry forward with them and apply to other aspects of their lives, thanks to Marna’s leadership.
Marna eventually came to work for us at the Lorane Family Store which we bought from the Mitchell family in 1977. I was running the store in those days with the help of Nancy O’Hearn in the old original building. It was dusty, rather dark and the old wooden floors creaked and slanted downhill from the door, but we loved greeting the customers and ringing up sales of mainly milk, bread, pop, beer and cigarettes. Pumping gas and sweeping floors were less popular activities… especially since a thick layer of dust would settle onto the shelves each time we swept and we waged a constant battle with the dust.
The three of us formed a close bond at that time. Nancy descended from several generations of Lorane pioneers and when she talked about them, she piqued Marna’s and my interest in our own family histories. Those were the days following the very popular “Roots” series on TV that had everyone trying to trace their family trees. We began actively going to the genealogy libraries together, staring for hours at those horrible little microfiche films of white-on-black census records, trying to locate our ancestors. As we talked about them, Marna and I became more and more interested in Nancy’s family and its connection to Lorane’s past. Nancy brought out old pictures of Lorane and the people who populated the area. She told stories that her grandparents had told her. She discovered that it was her ancestor, Lily Crow, who named the town “Lorane” after a favorite niece. Lily, Nancy’s great great grandmother, was married to William Crow who was the town’s first postmaster. Another thing we discovered was that the town became officially “Lorane” in 1887. We realized that in three years, Lorane would be having its 100th birthday as a town. From that realization was born a plan… we would turn our energies to researching Lorane’s history and compile our findings into a book. Knowing that I loved to write, Marna and Nancy asked me if I would be willing to write the book if they helped research it. When I agreed, we became the “Three Musketeers of Lorane”… pouring over documents, pictures, letters, newspaper articles, microfiche census records and recording every story and little bit of information we were able to uncover. We set up interviews with the “old timers” of that time… listening to and recording the stories that their grandparents had told them about early life in Lorane. Marna usually sat at one end of the table with a tape recorder and I would sit at the other end with a second one so that we could catch as much of the conversation as we could. Nancy took handwritten notes. We all asked questions and let the conversation flow in whatever direction it took. We picked up a lot of wonderful stories that way.
Marna was especially good at knowing what questions to ask that would put our subjects at ease and start the memories flowing. Several times, she and Nancy went out to interviews by themselves when I was unable to go. I transcribed the tapes and Nancy’s notes and entered them into my computer. Soon chapters began to form and our book took shape.
Our project began to pique the interest of others in the community. Soon we were involved with the planning of a major Centennial celebration to recognize Lorane’s 100th birthday. Those three years were labor-intensive for all of us, but we seemed to be in our elements. Our pictures and story appeared in all of the local newspapers and magazines and we were invited to be interviewed on TV. We felt like real celebrities!
A few weeks before the Centennial, Marna, Nancy and I headed over the Cascades to Bend where we joyfully picked up our first 500 copies of our newly printed book, Sawdust and Cider; A History of Lorane, Oregon and the Siuslaw Valley from our publisher, Maverick Publications. We notified those who pre-ordered copies that they were ready and scheduled a booksigning at the Lorane Grange where people were invited to join us for a party at which they could pick up their books. The grange rapidly filled with people who were anxious to read about their own families and the rest of the history of Lorane. We sat at a long table, greeting people and signing their copies of the book. It was a heady experience for three “country girls!”
Marna, Pat and Nancy signing autographs in their new book, Sawdust and Cider, at the Lorane Centennial celebration
In August, 1987, there was a large turnout for the three days of activities, games and displays that the Lorane Centennial committee planned. People came from all over the country to touch their roots. One of Marna’s biggest contributions to the event was the video of the old homes and sites of interest in the area that she and Bob made. It was a taped tour of the area and Marna served as the tour guide with her commentary and bits of history of the area. I don’t know how many people bought the tapes, but I still have mine.
Kelly Edwards wearing Lucy’s Portland Rose Festival Queen dress for the Cottage Grove fashion show
During that time, Cottage Grove was celebrating its history, too. They planned a fashion show featuring vintage styles of dress over the past century. Its organizers approached Marna, Nancy and I, as authors of Sawdust and Cider, to participate as a mean of publicizing our book. While trying to figure out what type of costume we could include, Marna was inspired to suggest that her mother, Lucy, had been the 1923 Portland Rose Festival Queen and she had an exquisite flapper dress that we could use. The problem that it presented, however, was that none of us were small enough to fit into the delicate measurements made for Marna’s obviously slender mother. Our youngest teenaged daughter, Kelly, however, was the perfect size and had been doing some modeling, so we asked her if she would model the dress in the Cottage Grove show. She had her hair done in fingerwaves with a tiara and strode up the aisle in the beautiful dress, carrying a copy of our book. We were so proud!
In June 1973, Marna and Bob were part of a group who became charter members of the newly-formed Lorane Volunteer Fire Department. (Bob remembers the other charter members as Bruce and Berneda McDonald, Mike and Linda Jenks, Gary and Lil Thompson, Joe and Barbara Brewer and Jim Kotrc.) There weren’t too many fires to deal with, but Marna made frequent runs with the other volunteers to traffic accidents in the area. There was a need for experienced emergency technicians to aid the victims until medical help arrived. Always ready to lend her help wherever it was needed, Marna began the extensive program to earn her license as an EMT-2 responder. Bob served on the board for many years and, combined, they amassed over 46 years of service to the community with the Lorane Volunteer Fire Department.
Marna and Bob were also long-time Grange members, serving the community, once again, through Grange events and activities.
For a few years of our friendship, Marna and I joined with Phyl Narzisi for weekly horseback rides during the good weather months. I packed my lunch and trailered my Arabian gelding, Gharahas, to Lorane to meet Marna and Phyl, usually at Marna and Bob’s house. Marna’s favorite mount was Bob’s jet black gelding, Satan, although Marna’s own horse, Ginger, was usually available, too. We frequently turned the horses’ heads towards the hill across from the Hing place, riding on the trails through forested land belonging to George Damewood – with his permission, of course. Halfway through our ride, we stopped for lunch under the big fir trees or at an old homestead site. In the fall, we’d pick and eat apples, pears and prunes from the old orchards vacated decades ago. Other times, we’d meet at Phyl’s place on Siuslaw River Road and ride on the trails near Fawn Creek. Those were fun times, indeed!
Eventually, I went to work at the University of Oregon and our friendship became one of occasional email greetings. Marna took on the role of unofficial “community news” person. By then, many of us had email and she maintained an email list to which she sent news updates of things happening in the community.
In 1995, Marna was moving some hay in the barn when the unstable hay rolled out from under her. As she began to fall, she reached for one of the support posts in the barn to try to keep herself from falling. Her arm hit the post hard, causing the bone of her arm to snap, just under the shoulder joint. She had multiple surgeries and procedures performed on the break, but it refused to heal. Despite the pain she must have been in, Marna continued living her life as normally as possible, but her health, over the next 15 years continued to deteriorate.
She and Bob continued to enjoy friends and family; they traveled every winter to Arizona and lived their lives to the fullest under the circumstances. Bob and Marna always maintained a close relationship with their long-time classmates and friends in Tigard and kept in close touch with them through the years and, of course, they had made many many friends in Lorane.
Marna was a caring person in every way. She cared about her community, taking a special interest in doing what she could to make it that unique place that many of us call “home.” She became actively involved with any project or event where she felt her energies were needed.
She loved her friends. She was outgoing and was always there whenever one of us needed her help and support in any way.
… And, then there was her family, children and grandchildren, who meant so much to her – and Bob. He was her life’s companion and soulmate who was by her side every step of the way throughout their marriage… for better and, unfortunately, for worse. For all of her infirmities in the last 15 years, Bob was always there for her… sharing, as best he could, whatever came her way. His devotion is testimony to what a very strong and great lady Marna Helser Hing was. She will truly be missed by all of us who were fortunate enough to have known her.
May you at last rest in peace, Marna.