Grace E. (Barnes) Black (as reluctant to reveal her middle name as she was her age) was born quite awhile ago in Oroville, Wash. to Lafe and Carrie Barnes in the bedroom of her parents’ home. For the record, she had her tonsils removed on the dining room table of the same house and, liking to do things ‘at home’, was blessed to be able to pass from this world in her own bedroom in Anchorage, Alaska on Aug. 13, 2013.
A hopeless romantic, Grace loved to dance, believed she could defeat the slot machines in Las Vegas, and eloped with the love of her life, Del Black, on Valentine’s Day 1945.
Their apple orchard/farm was walking distance to the place Gracie was born, and she loved having a cow and horses in the pasture plus two young daughters, Susan and Diane, with whom to share this idyllic life. But things change.
Grace, Del, their two daughters, a nephew, and a long-haired cat, made the trip to Anchorage, Alaska arriving just before New Year’s Eve 1964 with a mattress strapped to the top of their old Chrysler, a broken spring and a belief in the future. The immediate future turned out to be the Great Alaskan Earthquake which was likely diminished by the shake up that had already taken place in Gracie’s life.
During World War II, Grace and her sister, Helene owned a string of dress shops in Washington, so it was a perfect fit for her to seek employment at David Green Furs in Anchorage. She was the pretty blond manager at the 4th Avenue store where she had a hand in selling, selecting inventory, modeling, and even held the title of the ‘Vulgar Boatman’ in one of the more memorable of their 70‘s-80‘s television ads. She claims to be the person who penned their ‘if you don’t know furs, know your furrier’ slogan.
After retirement, she and Del loved traveling in their motorhome to Las Vegas where Grace would leave the casino with hands black from too many hours warring with the one- armed bandits.
Furs were her vocation, but Grace’s avocation was drawing and painting. After retirement, she was able to spend more time behind the easel and thoroughly enjoyed working under the tutorship of Andrea Sonneborn in her downtown studio, where she had two very successful shows of her work.
Grace was sweet, loving, albeit, a little mischievous right to the end of her sojourn. She will be recognized by the staff at the Spenard Village Inn where she was a regular. Cane in hand, she was quick to notice a good looking man. Members of the Anchorage Senior Citizen Center will also have fond memories of her.
Grace leaves a devoted and loving Alaskan family. Daughters, Susan (Terry) Gose and Diane (Craig) Blacksmith; grandchildren, Ashley, Britne, Morgan, and Alexis; and four great-grandchildren. She also leaves her niece, Nancy Bergh (Ron) Pollock, who felt like a daughter; great-nieces, Liv and Erin Pollock, also shared an unusual closeness.
In Washington, she leaves niece, Patty Key; and nephews, Gary Bergh, Jeff Bergh and Lance Barnes.
Grace was loved dearly in the final years of her life by a cadre of caregivers who became so much more than the label.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Del; a baby son; her best friend and sister, Helene; her brother, Bill; and her parents.
Visitation for family and friends will be held Friday, August 23, 2013 from 2-4 p.m. at the Bergh Chapel in Oroville.
Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday Aug. 24, 2013 at the Oroville Riverview Cemetery with the Reverend Marilyn Wilder officiating.
Bergh Funeral Service of Oroville/Tonasket is in care of the arrangements