Homer resident Millie May Medema, 88, died Sept. 26, 2012, at her home.
Millie was born Jan. 31, 1924, to Jack and Ruth Barker in Arizona. She was one of three children and is survived by her brother, Lynn Barker of Albuquerque, N.M.
Millie met her loving husband, James D. Medema, on the school bus. They were married on July 2, 1942. Millie had an adventuresome spirit, prompting their move to Alaska when it was pure wilderness, spending winters in Maui when it was not yet discovered, deciding to settle in Homer when they retired while it was a small fishing village. Her motto: Since you have to live somewhere, live in the most beautiful places you can find.
Millie and Jim drove the Alaska Highway, entering the state on Aug. 29, 1947. They bought a 20-acre lot where they built a 14-by-16-foot log cabin. Jim and Millie moved with their children, Max and Donna to Palmer after the 1964 earthquake. Millie, being a child of the Great Depression and raised on a cattle ranch, thought it was important for her children to be self-sufficient, so she started a small gentleman farm. At one point her family had seven horses, seven geese, a number of chickens, a milk cow and two goats. She cut a dashing figure on a horse and was in the Tucson rodeo as a young women. Millie and Jim later retired to Homer, living on more than 75 acres in a house that Millie designed for them, that Millie affectionately called Shangri-La.
She was well known for her many projects, be it her beautiful flower, vegetable and raspberry gardens, setnet site and their own natural gas pipeline. Millie made sure to pass down all of her knowledge on raising vegetables and the canning and preserving of food to her grandchildren to make sure they could be self-sufficient as well. She loved to take morning hikes through her property that often left others winded. Along the way she would stop and give impromptu lessons about the flora and fauna of Alaska to her grandchildren who were often along for the hike.
Mille loved nature and the scientific workings of the world and universe. She was fascinated by the beyond, watching the sky, and became a licensed pilot. She inspired questions, and challenging the world around her. She was a wicked chess and card player. She taught her children and grandchildren to play chess, starting them out young by giving up a few of her pieces to even the playing field. She expected the best of herself and others, and valued family above all.
With Alzheimers, Millie spent the last 10 years at her Homer home with her devoted husband Jim always by her side. She was also cared for by a wonderful staff of caregivers that were with her to the very end.
Millie was a member of the Elks Lodge and Pioneers of Alaska.
She was preceded in death by her husband, James D. Medema. She is survived by her children, son and daughter-in-law, Max and Dawn Medema of Anchorage; daughter Donna Dowling of Fairbanks; grandchildren, Talon and wife, Dante Medema, Danae and husband Dustin Hendricks and Caprice Medema, all of Anchorage; Jeff and wife Crystal Dowling of Fairbanks; and Katrina and husband Lyle Rich of Kent, Wash.; great-grandchildren, Isolde and Freja Medema of Anchorage, Destiny, Katelynn and Devin Dowling of Fairbanks and Conner Rich of Kent, Wash.
She was laid to rest at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery next to her husband.
A memorial celebration of life gathering will take place in Homer on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, at 5 p.m. For details, call Donna Dowling at 808-385-0276.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the Alzheimers Resources of Alaska, 1750 Abbott Road, Anchorage, AK 99507.