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Naomi Mildred Hawley Terhune

Naomi Mildred Hawley Terhune

Naomi Mildred Hawley Terhune


- July 18, 2019

Naomi Mildred Hawley Terhune

Born August 20, 1925 Gustave, SD Harding County

Died June 24, 2019 Hulett, WY Crook County

Naomi was the first born of 12 children to Clara V. (Everts) Hawley and George W. Hawley.  Ten girls and two boys would build a large family for this couple of Dutch English and German, English, Irish ancestry.

Naomi and her sister, Maxine would experience life in a sheep wagon traveling and living on sheep ranches with their parents in Butte County, SD and Crook County, WY during the summers from 1925 to 1927.  The summer of 1927 George went ahead with livestock and household goods to establish a home for his young family in Crook County.  Clara came later by car and mail truck and sled with their two little girls. 

From 1927 to 1953 George and Clara lived on various farms including Blacktail Creek south of Hulett and Deer Creek area north of Hulett.  The family grew to 12 by 1946.  Naomi was ‘Big Sister’ to all.  From her mother she learned to cook, can, sew, and garden as well as become a great caretaker to help raise her siblings.  Country schooling required many children to pile onto the back of a trusted old horse named “Glory” or walk an average of two miles to and from school.  Naomi received an 8th grade education at the Deer Creek School with Claudice Pearson as teacher.

Naomi learned to work alongside her father as he cut railroad ties from a sawmill he owned and operated for five years.  She learned to care for livestock as well.  Childhood required walking to springs and wells to get water.  Horseback trips took her and sisters to Hulett to get mail or groceries for the family.  Naomi’s stories of her childhood were always funny and filled with things like hobos coming to their door for a handout or learning to bake bread in the wood stove and forgetting yeast or nearly setting the roof on fire because the stove got too hot. 

Lots of great stories Naomi shared with her family and caregivers during the last three years of her life.  These were what remained in her memory due to Alzheimer’s Dementia.  Hours were spent drinking tea and sharing stories of how fun it was to have neighborhood picnics, fishing trips, school activities, sawmilling, or raising sheep and cattle. There were always stories about her children, Jack and Peggy or her sisters, and, of course, her husband, Robert Terhune and father-in-law, Ted Terhune, were included. 

Around 1942-1943, Naomi left Wyoming and traveled by bus from Belle Fourche, SD with all her possessions in one small suitcase, to Los Angeles, CA to stay with two aunts, sisters of her mother.  There she began working to support the WWII war effort as so many American women did.  She got employment in a watch factory converted to making brass shells for the military.  She described in detail why she quit after a few months.

She and a man were night workers stirring big vats of molten brass.  They walked a gang plank above the vats stirring with large paddles, the size of a boat oar.  Her co-worker fell in and dissolved.  She thought the job was too dangerous, so she quit. 

Her next challenge was to go to night school and study accounting and bookkeeping.  By day she built her skills as a seamstress and tailor guided by her aunts who created clothing for Hollywood actresses. 

By 1946 she longed for home and her family and returned to Belle Fourche, SD where she worked as a nursing aide at John Burns Hospital.  She gained great empathy for caregivers and the ill.  Entertainment in those days included many community dances.  She met Robert “Mans” Terhune and began dating him.  She had known him only slightly as a neighbor as both had been raised on or near Deer Creek, in Crook County, WY.  “Bob” worked as a mechanic at Hoseth Auto in Belle.  They were married April 9, 1946 at the Methodist Church in Belle.

She and Bob moved to a ranch east of Alzada, MT that spring to work for Clinton and Barbara Hoffman.  Bob did work building dikes and reservoirs with a CAT and Naomi cooked and did housework.  This ranch was west of Belle about 35 miles.  By the following year she and Bob joined Bob’s father, E.M. “Ted” Terhune running a sawmill operation in Wyoming about 12 miles south of Alzada.  The business grew and Naomi used her skills to garden, can, and sew work shirts for the hired men.  Her youngest sisters remember coming to Naomi’s for Christmas dinner in their three-room home and how fun it was to open presents made by Naomi-dolls and doll clothes and her good dinner.

The winter of 1949 made records throughout several states in this region.  The “Winter of 49” stories are in history books for snow depth and how damaging it was to livestock, barns, homes, and people.

So, in late April 1949, with new three-day old baby, Peggy, Naomi and Bob and Ted moved their sawmill to Alzada and set up a mill and planer operation southeast of the current Alzada school.  They moved their three-room home across the road east of the mill and began milling lumber to help re-build farm and ranch buildings and windbreaks for the area that had been damaged by the winter snow.

Naomi made a big garden and strawberry patch.  She built onto their home seven more rooms with lumber from the mill and help from Bob and Ted.  Her interior wood was planed at their sawmill with the help of Joe Nikodym from Alzada, who was a fine carpenter, she learned to finish several rooms with knotty pine and to build furniture for their new home, dish cupboard, coffee tables, headboard and nightstands.  She had the job of cooking for 17 hired men every noon as well.

By June 27, 1952, Naomi and Bob had a son, Jack, to complete their family.  Naomi’s sisters describe coming from their ranch in Wyoming with parents, George and Clara to go to Belle for supplies.  Naomi had sisters who were not yet old enough to go to school.  Their stories describe how charming Naomi’s home was with pretty breezy white curtains she had made and the doll house feeling they enjoyed while eating home-made ice cream with strawberries.

Alzada wasn’t large, fewer than a 100 people but a big community in the tristate area.  A Woman’s Club was formed, and Naomi participated and enjoyed the social connections with many other women.  She also shared the same values as the other women, that community mattered.  The Alzada Women’s Club hosted monthly dances at the community hall. The Alzada Rodeo and dance was always the biggest event of the year.  Food they all prepared was served and proceeds went back into more community events like, donkey baseball, wedding showers, school programs, support to families in need, and whatever they could do.  They shared caring for children as their kids all grew up together in this small town.

Bob and Naomi’s two children, Jack and Peggy learned to work at the mill and around home.  They rented land in Wyoming and raised sheep and the kids shared in that.  Bob and Ted sheared sheep each spring, so Peggy went along to help sort sheep and stomp wool.  Jack learned to mechanic and blacksmith with help from grandfather, Ted and Bob.  Jack and Peggy attended Alzada’s two room school until 1960.    Grandpa Ted taught Peggy to drive to fishing holes when she was six years old.  When Ted became ill in 1959, Naomi cared for him and prepared special meals she had to give him through a feeding tube.  Naomi was still talking about the happy times working with Ted even in her last few weeks.

By 1960, with Ted’s passing, Naomi and Bob chased their dream of having their own ranch and closed the sawmill and moved back to their roots-North Crook County, WY.  They purchased a small place on Deer Creek near where Bob’s parents had homesteaded and where Naomi grew up.

They started with sheep and milk cows but soon switched to Hereford Cattle after losing too many lambs to coyotes.  Naomi became a great cattlewoman and handled all the ranch bookkeeping.  She was very proud of 100 % calf crop and never hesitated to save a calf or lamb by bringing it into her kitchen to be warmed for a few hours.  She and Bob raised gentle cattle even after switching to Angus, known to be a bit to handle.  Nevertheless, she did the whole thing including fencing, vaccinating, calving cows, sewing costumes for Peggy’s baton twirling at school, raising an acre garden, becoming an ATV expert, tractor driving, and haying.  She still holds the ranch record for the most small hay bales stacked in a single day – 874. Naomi and Bob were still actively running their ranch until about 2008 and she was 83 years old and he was 86.

Dementia started its slow capture of Naomi’s later life giving her, the family, and Bob, challenges to run the ranch and keep her comfortable and safe.  She moved to Spearfish’s Dorsett Home for professional care in February 2016 and resided there until October 2017.  Bob stayed on alone at the ranch with son, Jack and wife, Linda, nearby and Peggy visiting frequently.  By April 2017 Bob also moved to Spearfish for care.

Living together in the same building, but not together and not at “home”, Jack and Peggy decided to try something different and arranged to have a private home in Spearfish with home health caregivers, Comfort Keepers, look after their parents.  It was a great success.  Both Bob and Naomi received perfect end of life care at home with visitors and family and home cooked meals.  A Comfort Keepers team of loving women felt it was a joy to help them.  Describing Naomi as “Pure Love.”  Peggy spent the better part of those years living with them to care for them.  Sisters, Joan Anderson and Judy Keil, helped care for both Bob and Naomi during the Spearfish years. Both expressed how glad they were to help and get to know their sister they learned how witty she was and that she was tremendously respectful of life, Mother Nature, and people. 

Naomi and Bob were honored in August 2018 by Comfort Keepers International as “Family of the Year” along with 19 others in the US and their over-seas companies.

Naomi was very pleasant in spite of the developing dementia.  After moving into her new home in Spearfish she began doing simple artwork projects at the table.  Her caregivers and doctors were impressed with the results.  During September 2018, the Suzie Cappa Art Gallery in Rapid City featured her work in honor of the National Alzheimers Walk being held in Rapid City. 

Bob passed away, August 22, 2018 and Naomi stayed on at her home in Spearfish until late May 2019.  She returned to her ranch on Deer Creek to live. Once again she had family, Jack and Linda, and the loving care of Healing Hearts Home Health caregivers. 

Naomi was preceded in death by her parents, Clara V. (Everts) and George W. Hawley; her siblings, Maxine (Harvey) Morgan, Marjorie (Willie) Burk, Lucille (William “Bill”) Ridinger, Geraldine (Don) Lynn, John Hawley, and Frances (Phil) Cadwell.

Surviving siblings include, Betty (Eldon) Nielsen of Alva, WY, George (Jeanette) Hawley of Biddle, MT, Joan (Tom) Anderson of Spearfish, SD, Jean (Bud) Lynn of Coffee Creek, MT, and Judy (Jim) Keil of Katy, TX.

Naomi’s son, Jack and wife, Linda, reside at the family ranch in Hulett, WY, daughter, Peggy and husband, Steve Nervig reside in Vail, AZ.  Naomi’s grandchildren are Billy Jack Terhune, Carol Naylor, Dawna Naylor, and Chadd Nervig; and 10 great grandchildren, nine great-great grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

All children agree, “Grandma T” made the best mashed potatoes and gravy and rhubarb pie of all Grandma’s.

Jack describes life working on the ranch with his mom, “Even a bad day was great if I could work with Mom.”

Peggy described a scene one summer afternoon, “A big hail storm tore Mom’s garden to smithereens.  Everything was pounded down into the mud and tops cut off.  Mom fell to her knees and sobbed.  I was about 14 and this scared me to see my Mom so devastated.  Then she stood up and turned toward the house and said “Come on Peggy, we have work to do.” We gathered paper grocery sacks, baling strings and broken snow fence sticks.  Back at the garden we pulled everything up and supported it.  September came and Mom’s garden produced a bumper crop.  Mom taught us all important life lessons.

Naomi and Bob will have a private memorial and burial at the ranch later.  They previously had a Celebration of Life with family, friends, neighbors, and caregivers at a gathering at their Spearfish home in August 2018 before Bob’s passing.

Cards or letters may be sent to Jack and Linda Terhune, 307 Deer Creek Rd, Alzada, MT, 59311 or call 307-467-5821 or to Peggy and Steve Nervig, 15682 E. Colossal Cave Rd., Vail, AZ, 85641 or call 520-488-3349.

We are so grateful to all who helped, supported and encouraged us through this time.

Friends and family may sign her online guestbook and leave written condolences at blackhillsfuneralhome.com.



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