Barbara Mery Bennett Oakie (sponsored obituary) |

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

not miss

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.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User