Barbara Mery Bennett Oakie (sponsored obituary)
Mery Bennett Oakie
October 11, 1913 – June 14, 2008
Barbara was born in Chico, Calif., her father and mother both of pioneer
Chico families. The Merys and the Bennetts were pillars of the community and
contemporaries of John Bidwell, founder of Chico.
Barbara and her two sisters grew up in a gentle age, learning the manners of
gentlewomen, but at the same time, being equipped for life as a “new age”
She attended Chico State, at that time a junior college, then went on to the
University of California at Berkeley, graduating in May of 1934, gaining not
only a diploma but the acquaintance of her soon-to-be partner in life, John
H. Oakie. They were married in 1936 and set up housekeeping in San
Francisco, where John (also a Cal grad) had been retained as an expert in
Pacific Rim affairs.
The outbreak of WWII disrupted their lives to the extent that they made the
move to Grass Valley, buying property on McCourtney Road, harvesting pears,
raising cattle, selling cream and eggs and raising children. Son John was
born in 1940, daughter Katherine in 1942 and daughter Sarah in 1947. In
1953, they purchased the Barnegat Ranch on Spenceville Road in Penn Valley,
and John Oakie became known throughout the north state for his innovative
approach to animal husbandry and his devotion to the county’s education
system, serving as the chairman of the Nevada Union High School Board at the
time of its inception and the building of the Ridge Road plant.
John’s untimely passing in 1962 at the age of 51 left a void in Barbara’s
life that she sought to fill with loyalty and devotion to her family and her
friends. She moved to Pasadena, and there she was welcomed into the home of
one of her sisters as she began her new life.
She went to work as a Social Service supervisor for the County of Los
Angeles and took the first of her many trips abroad to Europe. She was a
tireless traveler, ready to go anywhere, anytime at the drop of a hat,
covering 49 states and almost every continent.
Her last trip out of the United States was at the age of 92, when she hosted
a trip to Japan for her son John and his wife Sandie, showing them sights
that she had discovered on prior trips. Her last year was spent on Lopez
Island, Wash. in the home of daughter Sarah and son-in-law Lawrence
Eppenbach, with daughter Katherine Marsh also attending her.
Barbara leaves five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren and a large,
multi-generational extended family.
There is no one who did not love her. There is no one who will
her. She touched the lives of many, and we are all the
better for it.
In keeping with Barbara’s wish, there will be no ceremony; interment will
be in the Clear Creek cemetery, alongside her husband, parents and sisters.
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