Bertha Windham (Verne's Mother) Passes

MHS Class of 1964 Classmate News

My mother Bertha was also the second grade teacher for some in our class. Attached is her obituary, which will be appearing in Moscow and Lewiston and in much shorter form in Spokane.

Verne Windham

Bertha Windham, 88, passed away early Sunday morning, February 20, at Aspen Park Health Care in Moscow where she was lovingly tended for three years. The family wishes to thank her care givers for their gentle care in ministering to her.

Bertha was born Bertha Doris Marie Pabst on December 27, 1916, in Lookout, ID, (which no longer exists) on the edge of the Camas Prairie to German farmers Mary and Herman Pabst. She tagged along with her dad as he gardened and farmed, and was proud to have her “own” horse, Sis. She learned homemaking and music beside her mother, who sang as she worked and spent time at the pump organ playing hymns for Sunday’s worship.

Bertha traveled two miles over the hills to the Gifford school and loved the few times she was able to go on her sled. Especially memorable was the day the sled broke through into the creek, wetting her thick woolen clothes. She spent that day with a woman across from the school, waiting for the clothing to dry over the wood stove.

At 16 Bertha graduated from Gifford High, completed two-year teacher preparation at the Lewiston Normal School and was ready for her first teaching job at Cream Ridge, just north of the Clearwater River. Three years later she met Stanley Windham, a dashing music teacher from Texas, on a street corner in Weippe where both were teachers. It was love at first sight, and they married four months later in 1938. They lived in Genesee in 1941 where Stanley taught, then moved to Opportunity (WA) when he began working in the Post Office.

At the end of WW II they settled in Moscow where they eventually built Evergreen Trailer Park. Bertha re-entered teaching in 1953 at Russell School and continued in second grade at Genesee for 13 years and concluded her teaching career in Boise.

She was a master of the classroom, using a generous overlay of humor added to a natural dignity which commanded the respect and attention of the children, all of whom she loved.

After the death of her husband in 1969, Bertha expanded her horizons by learning to weave, traveling to visit relatives in Germany, taking a tour to the Galapagos Islands, and spending time camping and visiting her children and grandchildren. She returned north to Clarkston in 1983, then to Moscow where she spent her last six years.

An avid outdoorswoman, there was hardly a rock, plant, mountain stream or wildflower in Idaho which she couldn’t name or explain the geology of. Many huckleberry bushes gave up their fruit to her nimble fingers.

Music was of prime importance to her from early childhood when she played the organ for church even as she was entering elementary school. Bertha was the star of several musicals at the Lewiston Normal School, a pillar of her church choir, and a regular in the UI summer chorus after moving to Moscow. This love she passed on to all four of her children, active supporters of the musical arts.
  • Growing plants was another love borne out in beautiful gardens and flower beds which surrounded each of her dwellings and enriched her table.
  • Bertha was gracious, loving, thoughtful toward others, with a ready sense of humor. Here are some observations by her children and grandchildren:
  • Bertha had the guts to take off with Stanley Windham on a wild honeymoon adventure to Texas. She loves adventure.
  • Bertha encouraged independence in her children. She encouraged them to strike out on their own, to travel, to explore.
  • Having climbed trees since she could walk, Bertha believes in tree climbing. If a child did not know how to climb, she’d teach him.
  • Bertha is curious, always learning. When she travels, she asks questions so she can understand her surroundings.
  • Bertha was an amazing elementary school teacher and never stopped using those skills once she retired. Into old age she helped her grandsons with their homework.
  • Bertha was a runner in school. She earned ribbons from a lot of races she won.
  • Bertha loves music. She has loved it all her life. She encouraged her kids to love music.
  • She encouraged my musical ear in testing the doneness of canning jar lids.
  • She loves all blooming things and passed that love on to her children.
  • She had the stomach to cut off chicken heads.
This remarkable woman is survived by her sister, Verla Hall, of Roswell, NM, brother Norman Pabst of Midvale, UT, children Dean and his wife Roberta in Pendleton, Keith in Issaquah, Elaine and her husband Gerry Queener in Troy, and Verne and his wife Susan in Spokane. She has 16 grandchildren and 4 great-grandsons.

Bertha’s memorial service will be Monday, February 28, 11:00 A.M. at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Moscow. The family suggests that memorials be given to the Dorothy Barnes Vocal Scholarship Fund at the University of Idaho Lionel Hampton School of Music.

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