Ramona Frances Hendricks was born Dec. 13, 1930, in Wendling, OR, to Carl and Frances Baxter. She passed away Dec. 3, 2020, at Ray Hickey Hospice House after a short and unexpected illness.
Growing up during the depression was a challenge for many families. Ramona’s was no different. In 1936, Ramona’s mother had to make an incredibly difficult decision. Ramona and sister Betty would live for the next five and a half years at Christie Home, a Catholic orphanage for girls on the grounds of what is now Marylhurst in Lake Oswego, OR, her brother, Carl, went to St. Mary’s, a Catholic orphanage for boys, in Beaverton, OR, for a time and sister, Joanna, to their grandparents.
World War II eventually brought the family back together. First Carl, who would go off to the Merchant Marines; then Joanna, followed eventually by Betty and Ramona, reunited with their mother and her new husband, Earl “Van” Vandemark. Ramona would call Van “daddy” for the rest of her life. On returning to Vancouver, WA, Ramona attended McLoughlin Junior High School and would graduate from Meadows High School in 1948.
Ramona’s first job was at Rapp’s Baby Clothing Store in downtown Portland which required a long trip by bus and streetcar. That was followed by a stint as an operator for Bell Telephone in Vancouver which she spoke about often and fondly.
While Harry and Ramona went to Meadows High School at the same time, she was not impressed. It was not until Harry was home on leave from the Navy, they were brought together on a date arranged by a mutual friend, Alyce (Dahl) Mattox. They were married Oct. 28, 1950, at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Alyce was Ramona’s maid of honor and remained her best friend for life.
After spending their first years in “Heights Housing,” Harry and Ramona built two houses for their growing family. The first in 1957 clearing several acres of land mostly by hand. The second in 1965 which would be their home for the next 53 years in which she took enormous pride. Ramona passionately embraced “home is where the heart is.” Her experience as a child no doubt serving as significant influence in that regard. That was certainly underscored by her commitment to her husband, sons and ultimately their families. All have shared fond memories of family get togethers, vacations from Canada to Mexico, California to Washington DC, the annual winter trips to Bend and 60th anniversary to Hawaii. All four grandchildren recently shared detailed and fond recollections of their time with their grandma. Most of all, what they learned from her; attention to detail, kindness, organization and for her granddaughters, “how to be a lady.”
Ramona was a homemaker extraordinaire, focusing on her family. She volunteered at schools and as a Cub Scout assistant den mother. She was an outstanding cook and also enjoyed genealogy, sewing, reading, and, for a time, dabbled in pottery. For 20 years, Ramona was a member of the Hooky Ice Skating Club at Lloyd Center, always participating in the annual Christmas performance which her grandchildren loved to watch. Ramona knew about healthy eating long before most. Even after two heart attacks and beating cancer twice, she never slowed down. For many years, she enjoyed working out at the Firstenburg Center and later at The Bedford.
Harry and Ramona traveled extensively including an extended trip to Europe to visit Eric, Nikki and newborn Erin while Eric was serving in the United States Army. They enjoyed many adventures across the United States eventually visiting 49 of 50 states. Trips were on their own, with family or on occasion with Bill and Alyce Mattox. Oftentimes those trips were with their trailer in tow or in 1993 after Harry’s retirement, in their motor home.
Ramona and a group of “girls” who attended Meadows High School together met for lunch just about every month until COVID-19 kept them from carrying on the tradition. Those lifelong friendships were important to Ramona. Two other ladies from the group passed in the last six weeks: Louise Backstrom and Jackie Zanotto.
After six decades in the house that became their home, Harry and Ramona sold and moved into The Bedford, a local independent senior living community. They enjoyed spending time with their growing family whenever possible at barbecues, birthday parties, holidays and oftentimes Sunday dinner with their sons and their wives. Ramona will always be remembered as a caring, kind, funny, loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She is missed every day.
Ramona was preceded in death by her mother, Frances Vandemark; stepfather, Earl Vandemark; brother, Carl; and sisters, Joanna and Betty. She is survived by her husband of 70 years, Harry; sons, Greg (Janette) Hendricks and Eric (Nikki) Hendricks; grandchildren, Nathan (Saryna) Hendricks, Kelsey Hendricks, Erin (Tyson) Reed, Katie (Mark) Hawley; and great-grandchildren, Wyatt, Bennett, William, Waylon, Sawyer and Emerson.
The family would like to thank staff at The Bedford, The Vancouver Clinic, PeaceHealth Southwest Washington Medical Center and Ray Hickey Hospice House for their care and support.
At her request, there was no service, but there are many fond, loving, and lasting memories.
Published in The Columbian on Jan. 24, 2021.