Bessie K. Brown passed away on June 26, 2012, at her son’s home in Santa Cruz, California. She was born on February 8, 1913, in Aberdeen, Washington, to Olaf and Marie (Skjelbrei) Knoph, 1906 immigrants from Norway. She grew up on a farm in the Newskah Valley where she moved by horse drawn wagon with her family when she was seven years old. Bessie’s given name was actually Betsy. She always thought her father was kidding by saying that she was named after Betsy Ross until she saw her birth certificate and found that her name actually was Betsy.
Bessie was preceded in death in 1987, by her husband of 52 years, Clyde E. Brown; her six sisters, Mildred Hillcar, Clara Perry, Olga Haaseth, Agnes Siemiller, Gladys LaCroix and Edna Burton; her two brothers, Clarence and Otto Knoph; and her beloved granddaughter, Cheryl Brown. Her youngest sibling, Richard Knoph, continues to live in Hoquiam, Washington. She is survived by her two children, Marilyn Cavender of Annapolis, Maryland and Ron (Kathy) Brown of Santa Cruz; three grandchildren, Rhonda (David) Titus, Lee (Natalie) Cavender, and Nate (Dawn) Brown and seven great-grandchildren, Austin Titus, Chad Cavender, Lydia Titus, Morgan Cavender, Chase Titus, Grace Brown and Gillian Brown.
Bessie was a very strong, independent woman. The photo above was taken when she was almost 99 years old. She was a blessing to her family.
She always valued education and was keenly interested in learning. She attended a one room country schoolhouse, where Mr. Miller and Mr. Crary came to give her a test, and she skipped the second grade. Bessie wanted to be a teacher. She attended Washington State Normal School at Bellingham (now Western Washington University) for a year. It was the height of the Depression and unfortunately, she was unable to continue. She learned to drive when she was almost 50 years old, so she could get a job and help her son attend college. She worked at the Grays Harbor Veneer Plant in Hoquiam, Washington.
Bessie was an avid ceramist. For many years she attended ceramics workshops in the neighborhood where she lived in the Bench Drive area of Aberdeen. Many of the items she made fifty or sixty years ago are still being used by her family.
After she and Clyde retired, they spent most of their leisure time fishing the many streams of Southwest Washington. Their typical schedule was to be with their truck and camper in the prime fishing spots during the week when few other people were present. They rose early, hiked to the riverbank, and caught an amazing number of steelhead and salmon. They would go home on the weekend when the campground and the riverbank got busy.
After Clyde passed away, Bessie sold her Aberdeen, Washington home in 1990 and moved to California to be near her children. She treasured her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who in turn loved her dearly. She will be greatly missed.
Hospice of Santa Cruz was a terrific help and resource for Bessie and the family. Should anyone choose to make a donation in Bessie’s name, the family strongly recommends Hospice of Santa Cruz, 940 Disc Drive, Scotts Valley, CA 95066.