Sunday, October 3, 2010


After a long battle with lymphoma, Carol Ann McNeely died peacefully at home on September 18th, 2010. Carol was born on March 15th, 1938 and grew up on her family’s homestead farm in Rainier, Oregon. She attended Oregon State University and then worked in public service for a variety of agencies in Europe and the US, retiring from the Federal Aviation Administration's Renton Office. She began her public service career with the U.S. Army in Europe’s Judge Advocate Division in Heidelberg, West Germany in 1962. Later there were stops at General Service Administration in Auburn, Washington, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle. There were also brief stints at Boeing and Auburn Hospital.

She was an avid gardener and was always delighted to share her knowledge, some good compost or a few bulbs with her friends and neighbors. Her flowers regularly garner compliments from the neighbors and passersby.

One of Carol's passions, second (or perhaps not) only to her love of gardening was 'rooting' out and writing about her family history. Her accomplishments in this arena were impressive, and she spent several years painstakingly compiling a comprehensive history of her family, resulting in a 400 page book that details the Hackenberg family in Europe, their immigration to the U.S., the trip west across the Oregon Trail and their life on the homestead, which is still in the family. While she spent all her adult years in the Seattle area, the homestead farm was never far from her thoughts and she visited there with her ‘Washington’ family often.

Carol was an enthusiastic music lover and accordion player and friends and family were always prepared for an impromptu concert; sometimes they would have to sing, sometimes they got lucky. She was a country music fan and knew all the old tunes, to sing or to play.

Carol was an intrepid traveler in her early years, leaving Oregon State University and her family for a job in Germany for the U.S. Army. She visited much of Europe during this time, even touring the U.S.S.R. during the cold war, when not many Americans had been there. Her stories from this time were legendary, like when she turned the wrong way down a one-way street and found herself surrounded by about a thousand Spanish soldiers on horseback, coming down the street the proper way. In a parade. During some of these foreign travels, Carol became an early critic of the ‘Ugly American’ syndrome when she was frequently embarrassed by the behavior of her fellow tourists. Her favorite spots to visit, though, were Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast and Vinegar Mountain, in Eastern Oregon.

She was a great baker and a bit of a health food nut. She won a prize for her sourdough rye bread, but tried to slip her kids ‘comfrey milkshakes’ consisting of comfrey, castor oil and wheat bran. She was interested in social issues and was always looking out for the underdog; she was always the first one to offer help to anyone who needed it.

Carol was devoted to her family and loved baking with her grandkids and teaching them garden tricks: the best way to kill a slug or how to propagate a rose. She was married to Cyrus ‘Mike’ on June 4th, 1966 in church with same day receptions at the farm in Rainier, Oregon and at the family home in Renton. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made in her name to the Oregon Historical Society (

1 comment:

Helen said...

The obituary is a beautiful testament to your mother. Not only does it bring her spirit alive, but it also echos the deepest love.