In drafting a blueprint for living what many of us would call a good life, itd be hard to improve on the way Margaret Peg Miller Brundage Christie spent her days on this earth. Her connection to home and family, service to the community and sheer joy of living surely inspired those who knew and loved her.
Born Dec. 14, 1923, in Storrs, Conn., to Augustus Jackson Brundage and Ruth Miller Brundage, Christie attended the University of Connecticut, where she earned a degree in Home Economics. She got her first job as an extension agent in Duchess County, N.Y. In 1950, Christie moved to Klamath Falls, where she worked as a 4-H agent. While singing in the choir at the local Presbyterian church, she met another Connecticut Yankee, John L. Christie Jr., a graduate of Yale Universitys forestry program. They married June 14, 1952. After brief stays in Corvallis and Salem, the Christies moved to Olney, where Christie lived until her death.
Growing up during the Great Depression, Christie knew deprivation and hardship. As did many of her generation, she came away from the experience valuing hard work and simple living. Her legacy to her children and grandchildren had its roots there, helping make their time spent with Granny on the farm wondrous and special. She was the anchor in our family and in my life, providing a welcoming and wonderfully chaotic, cheery home where it felt like my cousins and I could always be kids, says granddaughter Edith Sangueza, of Winston-Salem, N.C. She could make chores seem like adventures, whether it was churning our own butter or canning fresh raspberry jam or stirring a bubbling pot of lye for homemade soap gently scented with chicken fat.
Granddaughter Ruth Christie, of Seattle, maintains Christie set great store by books and words in general. If a child wanted to spend the day reading, that was just fine with her (as long as chores were done). Not surprisingly, she was a champion Scrabble player. She was also a walking repository of childrens verse. By the time I was born, Granny had committed an incredible library of poetry to memory (and) she was never too busy to stop and recite a few lines, recalls Ruth. (She) had stored up so many words, so many moments and could summon them at will, capturing a memory perfectly for others.
A strong, intelligent woman, Christie maintained a healthy curiosity about the world around her. She savored lifes details the view from her kitchen window, a nice sunset, the birds at the feeder and the flowers, herbs and other plants in her garden. Yet she kept informed about events in the world at large. An active community member in Olney, Christie attended dances, ball games, picnics and school functions regularly and served as president of the Garden Club for several years. She also volunteered with the Scandinavian Festival (as an honorary Dane) and 4-H. A fierce competitor, Christie relished her wins at Scrabble, rummy and cribbage and the many blue ribbons she collected for county fair entries.
Christies resilience and overall zest for life were remarkable, as she was no stranger to heartbreak in her life. Her older brother Roger was killed during WWII when his plane went down in the Caribbean. Another brother, Pierce, fell at the Battle of Normandy. More recently in 2001, her son Robert, his wife Denise and their boys Ted Williams (8) and John David (1) were killed in a car crash. Despite a lot of hardship in her life, she was never bitter or closed-minded, but always curious and full of wonder even at something as small as the patterns (made) by tree branches or the chemical reactions of a cake in the oven, remembers Edith.
Any remembrance of Christie is not complete without mention of her nearly 30 years of tireless work as the unpaid, part-time manager of the Clatsop Emergency Food Bank, which began in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church and remains a lifeline for impoverished families.
Noting her retirement from CEFB at age 83 in 2005, there was an article about Christie and her work there in The Daily Astorian. Author Kara Hansen wrote, Under her direction, a steady flow of volunteers has kept the food bank running, buying and transporting food, packaging and dispensing it, cleaning, record-keeping, donating money and collecting contributions. Even after she retired as manager, Christie continued to come in on Tuesdays to help with packaging until a just a few weeks before her passing.
Both of Christies granddaughters have vivid memories of the cavernous church basement where they helped Granny stack crates and do other work on the food banks behalf. But they didnt mind. Says Edith, She made the work fun by teaching us songs, games and generally going through the world with an open and cheerful spirit. In the 1990s, Christie received the George Award for her service to Astoria through the food bank. This fall, she was also recognized by the Clatsop County 4-H Leaders Association for her lifetime commitment to youth and 4-H.