Jane Willis Barfoot-Hodde ended her life experience on Oct. 12. Her 99 years and 10 months has been memorable. Her life experience was dominated by the people she met and the opportunity to know them.
Her 82-year membership in the Washington State Grange started March 1, 1931, at age 18. Hundreds of friendships and her second husband Charlie Hodde resulted from Grange membership. Her choice of a “career” was never the work. Pay motivated her, but she derived her joy from the friendships she made from each activity. She was an Orcas School cook for 16 years, and students and teachers delighted in her pizza and cinnamon rolls. She was the San Juan County Grange Insurance Agent from 1970 to 1986 and was a dealer for Amway products for most of those same years. Many can remember her traveling all over San Juan county in her “green VW Beetle” and rejoiced in her willingness to pick-up hitch hikers. She owned and operated the “2nd Hand” store in Olga from 1968 to 1997 and it is with amazement that she could recall 30 years later different items that newly arrived islanders would find for sale in her store. She jointly owned the Barfoot Family Chicken Business from 1950 to 1960 where they raised and processed thousands of chickens for mainland meat markets, marketing them as “The Birds From Paradise.”
Her ability to remember names and places in the history of Orcas was amazing. Often her answer to a question would involve minor details of a place, its owner, children’s names and maybe what country/state they were from. In 1987 she co-authored a book about Olga called “Potlucks and Memories.” Jane has been an Orcas Island “public figure,” quoted in local news articles, teaming up with local historian and writer Tom Welch, recalling the way things were 90 years ago. The popular thing to do is “Google” a name, so the reader of this account is encouraged to do just that.
What could be “the rest of the story” are these notables. She was a perfection seamstress and, in her younger days, won several awards for this skill. She also created outfits, including wedding dresses, for her family. Her first husband, Jack, had his left arm amputated, so she did custom sewing for his special needs. Her knitting and crocheting skills are without challenge. She made hundreds of sweaters, vests, place-mats and afghans, not to mention her hundreds of washcloths made to give to friends and family in the later years. She was proud that she could cut up 50 chickens in one hour. Her secret for magnificent begonia flower pots will remain her secret. She was never on time for anything! But if she said she would be there, she kept her word. She had excellent penmanship and spelling skills so was voted to be secretary of numerous organizations, often holding these positions for years. Taking over from her mother, Louise Willis, she became the family genealogy expert.
This is her 100th year, so a party was held on July 13, 2013, at her home where over 200 came to visit with her and enjoy a social afternoon on a beautiful day. This event was highly anticipated by her and it did not let her down as she raved over the wonderful time she had. She was married to her first husband, Jack Barfoot, for 33 years, until his death in 1970. She was married again to Charles Hodde in 1986 until his death in 1999.
Jane is survived by daughter Irene O’Neill, Orcas Island; daughter Fran (Terry) MacMillan, New Carlisle, Indiana; son Harold (Denise) Barfoot, Las Vegas, Nevada; seven grandchildren: Mark O’Neill, Cheryl Jane Schweizer, Robert O’Neill, Wendy Glon, Evonn O’Neill, Terrill MacMillan, and Lisa Gasser; fourteen great grandchildren: Kevin, Nicole, Jessica, Harrison, Joel, Sarah, Jordan, Trace, Taryn, Wendy, Jennifer, Johnathan, Nathan and David; five great, great grandchildren, the youngest born in 2013 and named Jane. Survivors also include nieces Dorothy Lundquist, Betty Marcum, Judy Slater and nephew John Willis.
On Oct. 21 a visitation was held at Olga Community Building and a graveside service at Olga Cemetery. A memorial celebration will be held in late spring of 2014. It is fitting that memories will be shared at Woodside Farm, Olga, as she was born there Dec. 8, 1913 and married Jack Barfoot there in 1937. Because many of her family and friends are all over the country, this delay is needed. Hopefully you can join us. Jane’s lifelong interest has been history and she was proud of her involvement with the Orcas Island Museum, so memorial donations are encouraged to that local organizatio