Maxine Myrn Oldenburg Morgan died Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at age 87, in Spokane. She was born July 25, 1931, in Pomeroy, to Virgie Mae (Koller) and Leo Otto Herman Oldenburg, the second of three children. The family lived on the farm on the Snake River on Wawawai Grade Road in Garfield County.
Maxine and her sister walked 2 miles to attend the one-room Long Glen School House until she completed the fifth grade. The homestead was 3 miles to the top of the hill, where the school bus picked them up to go into Pomeroy for grades six through high school. When the weather was bad, Maxine stayed with her grandparents, Richard and Ollie Koller, or an aunt in town, or at Mrs. Kraemer’s boarding house. During this time, Maxine worked for Mrs. Hugh Cardwell and Mrs. Hal Obenland and others. From these ladies, Maxine learned about crystal, fine china, serving at formal dinners and many other things that sparked her appreciation and love for beautiful crystal and red glassware.
On Oct. 15, 1949, Maxine married the love of her life, Lloyd Francis Morgan, in Pomeroy. They settled down and farmed on Deadman Creek and later at Central Ferry, where they built their home. Maxine continued to help her parents during their soft fruit harvest, and as the two children got older, Maxine worked for several summers as a cook for the harvest crew of Mr. and Mrs. Pearl Gwinn. She later worked part-time for Dr. Rich Long at his Colfax veterinary clinic, where she cared for the animals and assisted with minor procedures.
After building a house at Central Ferry, Maxine started gardening in earnest. She joined the Petal Pushers Garden Club in Pomeroy and developed a lifelong interest in raising irises, tulips, daffodils, peonies and succulents. Two of her aunts encouraged her love of flowers, and in later life the sight of an iris they had given her would stimulate memories of trips to flower gardens and happy memories of those travels.
Maxine had been in 4-H as a young lady and later became a 4-H leader in both Garfield and Whitman counties. Her passions were sewing and cooking and teaching others the basics of how to give a great demonstration. This involvement and her activities with the Garfield and Whitman county flower clubs led to her working at the fairs in both counties. She served as department superintendent as well as a fair board member.
During the summer of 1966, Maxine and Lloyd were displaced from Central Ferry to Rosalia. The Army Corps of Engineers wanted to build the first of two dams on the Snake River. In the rush to finish harvest at Central Ferry and the move before school started, the house they were to move into at Rosalia burned. The move still had to take place, but temporary quarters had to be developed in a rush. A 10-foot by 12-foot cabin was moved into, outhouse readied and beds for the kids set up in the small shop 300 feet from the cabin. It was a cold winter, but after four months, a basement was poured, house was moved in, heat hooked up and a plank set up to the front door.
Once they settled into a new routine, Maxine and Lloyd worked on the house, unpacked and got involved in local Grange activities and Masonic endeavors. Following sports in the St. John school system helped them become acquainted with neighbors and soon, northern Whitman County became home.
In 1970, Maxine was the show chairman for the Inland Empire Garden Clubs Annual Christmas Show of Trees at the Ridpath Hotel in Spokane. Garden clubs throughout the Inland Empire would decorate one tree for display, and then the tree was auctioned off. This was a time Lloyd remembers fondly, as he and another husband volunteer learned how to flock Christmas trees in the alley behind the Ridpath.
In 1974, Maxine was appointed as one of seven members of the Washington State Fair Commission by Stuart Bledsoe, Washington state director of agriculture. She served two terms, traveling throughout the state, attending fairs, community shows and previews, and allocating funding for those shows. Her travels, meeting with fair boards and sharing good ideas from other locations were the moments she enjoyed the most.
The late 1970s also brought along her involvement with the Farm Home Administration, where she served on the eastern Washington board of directors. She was an outspoken voice on the behalf of farmers as budgets were reviewed and discussed.
In the late ’70s, Maxine was taken with a Grange presentation and she persuaded Lloyd to venture overseas on their first trip to Switzerland, Germany and Bavaria. She was ready to go again the next year, but waited and convinced 16 other friends to join the tour. Maxine was raised in a household with her German grandmother, who spoke very little English. While on the second trip, Maxine would surprise herself and others when she knew what some of the local people were saying as they strolled through small German villages.
From 1984 to 1990, Maxine served on the Washington AgForestry Foundation board of directors. Early in the formation of the organization, Maxine helped fundraising efforts, recruited members and promoted the program through her local organizations and networks. Maxine believed people could accomplish anything they wanted if they had enough information to achieve their goal. To that end, she was a lifelong learner and encouraged others in their endeavors.
In the early 1990s, Maxine actively participated in fundraising for the Whitman County Daughters of the Nile and the Whitman County Shrine. One year, the annual Nile Style Show featured a theme around angels. Maxine gathered a group of ladies, and they made 75 lace raffia angel centerpieces for the tables. The next year was a Clowning Around theme and again the group gathered, stitched and decorated more than 150 clown centerpieces. The angels and clowns were sold after the style show and the proceeds were donated to the Shrine Children’s Hospital in Spokane.
Maxine is survived by her husband, Lloyd Morgan; daughter Annette Moller (Dusty) and son Terry Morgan (Janet); grandson Gabriel Morgan; stepgrandsons Ben Di Biase (Katherine) and Garrett Di Biase; stepgranddaughters Grace and Heather Di Biase; stepgreat-grandchildren Roman Schulze, Sam and Prudence Di Biase; sister Erma Ward; brother Charles (Gwen) Oldenburg; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Richardson-Brown Funeral Home, Pomeroy, followed by a brief graveside service. Memorial donations may be given in her name to the Washington AgForestry Foundation; or the National Alzheimer’s Association for Alzheimer’s Research.