Nelda Jones 1931-2023, passed away peacefully on June 15, 2023. Exactly to the Date of day she and her family arrived in Homer, Alaska in 1956. Sixty seven years she lived here. A life well lived. She is preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, Stanley Jones. She is survived by her 6 children and spouses: Helen Loosli and Bill Davis, Randel Jones and Terry, Cecil Jones and Ina, Troy Jones and Linda T., Joe Jones and Maxi, and Linda Davis. Fifteen grandchildren and many great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren.
How to capture the dash, between the dates, that was Nelda’s life? And how to do it in a few short paragraph?
She was born in Texas in 1931, Nelda Lou Crump. She told stories of cooking for her brothers and sisters when she had to stand on a wooden crate to reach the top of the stove. She told of picking cotton as a young child when she was too little to pull a cotton sack so her dad gave her a pillowcase to fill.
In 1946 she met and married Stanley Jones. They dreamed of coming to Alaska and homesteading. For several years they saved money for the trip from Texas. They started their journey in the spring of 1956 with the 4 oldest children.
The homestead that was available to them was 20 miles from the small community of Homer. There was no road, so they walked the beach to the head of Kachamak Bay and climbed a switchback trail up the bluff, across country for over a mile to the property that would be their home for over 60 years. There were times that Nelda and the children would not go to town for over a year. Groceries came to Homer once a year by steamship. If they ran short of an item Stanley would walk the beach to Homer and carry what he could home, on a packboard.
Family was the most important thing to Nelda. She always had time for her children and the generations that followed. Other things that brought joy to her, was berry picking and making jams. I have seen her for many years carrying a rifle on her shoulder and a berry bucket in her hand, wandering over the swamps and the fields, hunting berries.
Memories of Nelda, in the old homestead cabin on a hot summer day, the wood stove burning, making chili beans, fried moose meat, ‘baking powder’ biscuits and gravy. Enough to feed a hay crew of 20 to 30 people. I never saw her use a recipe,
I never saw her turn anyone away from her table hungry. She always had a sweet treat for the children, rhubarb jam on a biscuit was a favorite. She was also pretty famous for her No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal cookies.
Over the years I never heard her complain about her workload. For years, caring for her family and friends, with no electricity or running water. She washed cloths by hand and carried water from the creek. On one occasion when Stanley was away on a job, they were out of meat, she shot and killed a moose, butchered it and canned it in jars. They had meat again.
She had a deep abiding faith in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When we attended church together, her prayer every Sunday was for all of her family to know Jesus. It was always the same prayer for years, her hearts cry was for all of her descendants to know Jesus so they could go to heaven. A very simple, never wavering faith. No fancy frills.
The beginning and the ending of every life is set in stone but the dash in the middle covers a lot of living. It is so hard to give even a little glimpse of who Nelda was and what she experienced. Her passing is truly the close of a chapter in history. Like water in a stream, that water flowing over the stream bed to the sea, will never pass that way again. So with a degree of sadness, but also with joy we celebrate her life. She is with her Jesus. She has been reunited with her husband of 55 years. He has been waiting on her since 2001. And I imagine there might even be a berry patch in Heaven.
The Memorial will be Saturday-June 24th at East Gate Fellowship. 20 mile- East End Road at 2pm.