November 24, 1925 ~ February 7, 2010
Ermina Isabel Chabre died in Walla Walla, February 7, 2010 at Providence St. Mary Medical Center. Viewing & visitation will be held at the Herring Groseclose Funeral Home on Thursday, February 11, 2010 from 10:00 AM until after the Rosary. The Recitation of the Rosary will be held on February 11, 2010 at 6:30 P.M. at the funeral home with Sister Helen Mason officiating. The Funeral Mass will be held on Friday, February 12, 2010 at 11:00 A.M. at Assumption Catholic Church with Father Tim Hays Celebrant. Internment will follow the mass at Mt. View Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or the St. Mary Regional Cancer Center through the Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder, Walla Walla, WA.
Mina was born in Milburn, Otago, New Zealand, November 24, 1925, to Lizzy Narin Grey Struthers and Herbert Lewis Struthers. Following high school in Milburn, she worked as a tea shop waitress and in the woolen mills in Dunedin, New Zealand. She met Albert Chabre, a US Navy sailor, when his ship was dry-docked for repairs there. She attended a ship's dance where Albert was the acting MP. She claimed he tripped her as she walked by, he claimed she deliberately fell against him. A confirmed romantic, she married this handsome French-American in 1944. Their first child, Leonce, was born in Auckland a year later. When the war ended, she left her homeland with baby Lee on a Navy troop ship which brought them to San Francisco, where Albert met her with a plane he had hired to bring her home to Walla Walla.
Mina and Albert's second son, Wayne was born in Walla Walla in 1947. In 1952, the family moved to the Chabre ranch on the Snake River, where Albert's French immigrant father had raised sheep. Mina put aside her fear of rattlesnakes, coyotes and badgers and her longing for the verdant landscape of her New Zealand home, and began to help Albert build a family farm and cattle operation. A daughter, Donna, and two more sons, Barry and Randy were born after the move to the ranch.
Mina was the farm accountant, bookkeeper, gofer and cook for the family and the harvest crews. She sewed for herself and her five children, tended a large garden and 35 miles on gravel roads from Walla Walla and 26 miles from Prescott, drove thousands of miles to Little League games, ballet lessons, school events and scout meetings. She also volunteered with the Civil Air Patrol.
Her hard work and devotion to the farm and her family helped their farm to survive; it is now thriving in the third generation of Chabres still farming the home place north of Eureka on the Snake River and east on the Eureka Flats.
Mina loved to travel and went back to New Zealand to visit family several times. Her first long-anticipated visit home to New Zealand with the three youngest children in 1962 was cut short by the Cuban Missile Crisis, and rather than stay in a safe, far-removed country, she chose to fly home early to reunite her family. In later years, she and Al visited Hawaii, Australia, Fiji, Alaska, and many U.S. cities in conjunction with Farmer's Co-op and Columbia REA meetings. She greatly enjoyed spending time at the Oregon and Washington coasts. She was an officer in the Eureka Grange, and participated with Al in Elks and Lions Clubs activities and was a member of the St. Mark's Altar Society. She volunteered for several years with the Senior Volunteer Chore Service. She was an enthusiastic golfer and bowler before becoming disabled by a stroke fourteen years ago.
One of her greatest pleasures in life was spending time with her grand and great-grandchildren. Even after suffering her stroke, she remembered all the family birthdays and never failed to send cards and gifts. She was a loving and generous parent, a loyal and supportive wife and a courageous and resourceful woman. She is greatly mourned by her family, and will be missed by many friends.
Mina is survived by her husband Albert, Walla Walla; three sons, Wayne Albert (wife Jeanne McMenemy), Barry James and Randy Michael, all of Walla Walla; daughter and son-in-law, Donna Narin Marie and George Ruddell of Wenatchee; Daughter-in-law Katie Chabre (husband Lee, deceased), five grandchildren, David Ruddell (wife Jaime) and Brian Ruddell (wife Heather), Geoff Chabre, Cindy Chabre, Ara McMenemy-Chabre, Travis Chabre (wife Robyn) and Kevin Chabre (wife Laura); three great-grandchildren, Matthew and Braden Chabre and Abby Ruddell, and numerous relatives in New Zealand. She was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters, Edna Atchison and Elizabeth Heads, a brother, George Cecil Struthers, and her eldest son, Leonce Lewis Chabre.