Roberta Menzies (French)
February 28, 1924 - November 6, 2017
Roberta Menzies (French) was born in Elk Point, SD on February 28, 1924 to Robert and Ethel A. French [Harkness]. She was the 5th of seven children. At the age of 6 she traveled to Washington State in 1930, with her family and attended schools in Burlington; Monroe; and graduated from Snohomish High School in 1941. Then she attended business school in Everett. Roberta has used her bookkeeping/accounting skills often through the years for family businesses and volunteering for many non-profit organizations. Memberships included: Morton Woman’s Relief Corp of Snohomish/ DAR; Snohomish VFW; and Lake Stevens Grange. And utilized her organization/leadership strengths: Machias PTA as president (which one year allowed her to pick out a new school bus #58, for Machias); Very civic minded, especially her children’s education (even ran for school superintendent against Mr. Lervick of Snohomish). Over her life-time, her entrepreneurial spirit took her in many exciting directions: jewelry; make-up; home decorative items; and Wheaton-ware dishes (until she finally discovered her niche). She really enjoyed recruiting others to get involved in these “fun” enterprises too. Using her creative/typing skills, she wrote a weekly news-column for the Snohomish Tribune about current “Machias” news, through the latter 1950s. During the 1980s, Roberta helped spearhead the creation of Machias Historical Society, which helped save the “old” Machias Church from demolition. Roberta had a true servant’s heart, trying to help wherever she saw a need and fight for the under-dog.
When she was 12 years old, she met her future husband, Alexander D. Menzies in church at Machias. They married while Alex was on leave during World War 2 on July 25th, 1943. For their honeymoon they traveled to Vancouver, BC by bus (gas-rationing was enacted by government as war effort, so one had to have gas-coupons to travel with their own vehicles). After the war Alex came back to Snohomish County and attended Snohomish High School’s auto-mechanics on the GI bill. Alex began his own automotive repair business out of their garage on OK-Mill Road (Forest Glade area). Roberta had a real pioneering spirit, was one of a small number of women that could drive a car in the 1940s, plus she liked the freedom it gave her. The economy had changed and so did Alex’s career, he became a self-employed logger, while Roberta kept the books/accounting plus she was secretary/treasurer of their logging business and at times even drove the 6-wheeler log truck for Alex. Occasionally, she picked-up and delivered parts for Alex to repair equipment. When a vehicle needed to be towed he would ask Roberta to drive (steer) the towed truck/car. In May 1956, their home & garage caught fire and they lost almost all of their belongings, so Alex’s side-line auto-mechanic jobs stopped because he lost all his tools/machinery in the fire. They rented a house near the Pilchuck River for a while, as they made plans to build their own home on Alex’s family property on Newberg Road (not too far from Machias). Alex and neighbor, Dick Schaller built it. Then they moved into their new house in 1962. They raised 6 children: Jerry; Wayne (Tony); Joan; Jon Al; Clark; and Kevin.
After the older children were teenagers, Alex and Roberta purchased the Machias Grocery and renamed it “Machias General Store” in downtown Machias (across street from the old school). It had groceries; snack-bar with hamburger-grill; fries; milkshakes; and gas station. Many people young and old congregated there because of their warm welcome and friendships that developed over the years. Roberta ran it from 1962-1975. This community connection helped Roberta to smoothly move into her next career. When their 3 older children were grown and on their own, Roberta went into selling real estate: working 1st for D.A. Duryee in Everett, and then later to ERA-Dan Williams Real Estate in Lake Stevens/Everett area. She worked in real estate for over 30 years until she retired (really enjoyed this job probably the most). She liked people and she was good at both listings and sales.
Roberta was a member of Machias Community Church and also attended Forest Glade Church. At Machias: when Jerry, Wayne, and Joan were younger and could walk from Machias School to the church where she helped with after-school “Good-News” Bible Club. Later she helped with church youth-group activities involving her children such as: roller-skating parties; candy-taffy pulling; making popcorn balls; and attending Youth for Christ meetings at the Everett Civic Auditorium, etc.
Jigsaw Puzzles: She loved working jigsaw puzzles. In fact, each Christmas (while the 3 older children were under 13 years old), she would gift the family one puzzle and they would work it during the “Christmas vacation week”. (Weather was usually bad, so it was a nice excuse to stay warm by the stove.) Puzzles were beautiful scenery photos of actual places in the world. Roberta used this “quality time” with children to teach many things about life, people, and organizational skills, which included: keen observations, goal setting, facing challenges, perseverance, proper communications, patience, trust, and perspective. It gave Roberta significant hours discovering the temperament of each child and their heart-felt desires, while cleverly instilled her values and expectations into their young lives. It’s a great tool to help children learn to work as a team (created a closer-knit family too). Plus, encouraged them to look at the bigger picture, but don’t forget the small details either (It’s like a map, follow close to the plan/model, it’ll get you there.) Key vantage/view-point (perspective): is so important, just exchange a seat with the person next to you or across the table, and maybe you can finally “SEE” the puzzle piece you’ve been searching hours for. Out of her 4 living children, 3 still love doing jigsaw puzzles (so 3 out of 4, isn’t bad). Even some grandchildren and great-grandchildren get involved too.
Her hobbies included: crocheting (and taught granddaughters also). Playing card and board-games with friends and family: Yahtzee; Dominos; Scrabble; Uno; Pinochle; and Canasta. She was involved in a bowling league for many years (Snohomish & Everett). Also enjoyed participating in craft bazaars and fund raisers for various civic and goodwill causes.
Roberta passed away on November 6, 2017 from complications of a stroke. After a 12 day stay in the hospital in October, she was lovingly cared for at Comfort Care Adult Family Home in Everett, later she was placed on hospice care.
Roberta was preceded in death by her husband Alex of 52 years (1995); her parents: Robert & Ethel French. Brothers: Julius E. French, and Melvin French. Sisters: Nellie Harbeck, Geneva White, and Audrey (Myers) Doph. Nephew: Edmond Harbeck. Sons: Jon Al (1968) and Kevin Peter (1982). And great-grandson: Scott Pray (1994).
Survived by one sibling: Florence Whitney (Maurice) Marysville, WA; and sons: Jerry Menzies of Tacoma; Wayne Menzies (Brenda) of Snohomish; Clark Menzies (Glori) of Coeur d’Alene, ID and one daughter: Joan Pray (Mike) [Menzies] of Lake Stevens.
10 grandchildren: Brian Pray (Charlotte); Andrea Backman [Pray]; Jodi Roxby (Dylan) [Pray]; Jon E. Menzies; Alec I. Menzies (Jen); Raschel Menzies; Josiah Menzies (Kalyn); Bonnie Crandall (Cameron) [Menzies]; Duncan Menzies; and Timothy “Tim” Menzies
12 great-grandchildren: Lori Pray; Drew Pray; Devian Jones; Crystal Jones; Hayden Jones; Blake Backman; Leora Backman; Evan Roxby; Alexander “Zander” Menzies; Noah Crandall; Zoey Crandall; and Piper Crandall.
4 step great-grandchildren: Christina Harvey (Blake) [Vanmechelen]; Zena Smith; Brendan Vanmechelen; and Kyra Chapman.
Internment: Machias Community Cemetery, beside her husband Alex. Private burial was earlier in November.
Burial arrangements provided by: A Sacred Moment of Everett, WA. See their web site to view Roberta’s expanded obituary online at: asacredmoment.com/obituary and sign Roberta’s guestbook.