March 24, 1921 - January 11, 2012
Bessie was born March 24, 1921, in a house on Second Street in Central Point, Ore.,to mother, Chordie Burns, and father, John Burns. Bessie had two half-sisters, Virginia Bohnert, and Fern Lotus. John, her father, worked as a laborer in the orchards of the area. Bessie was the rock of the Grigsby family. She married Garl Grigsby in 1939, and had three children, Julia Godfrey (who died August 25, 2011), Garl Steven Grigsby, and Teresa Korth. Bessie was blessed with eight grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren.
Bessie was always small in stature, but large in heart and will. Her life was not easy but she did not complain. She was raised by her grandmother, Chora Gillmore, on a small farm west of Central Point during the depression. She walked to school and worked to help on the family farm. One of her jobs was to get the cow in for her grandmother to milk morning and night. She related that the cow usually had other ideas and would be in the farthest reaches in the worst weather, but she prevailed. Bessie did not care for chicken or eggs as those foods were staples on the "Ranch" as she grew up.
Garl, her husband, joined the Navy in 1942, but was discharged in 1942 for medical reasons. Garl began to work in the local wood products industry. At that time the saw mills were located in the woods because the logs were too big for the available trucks. Garl, Bessie and Julia lived in the mill areas in several locations, including Trail Creek and Red Blanket Creek. Garl worked 10 to 12 hours per day, mostly seven days per week, and Bessie cooked for most of the crew at Red Blanket. She cooked for up to 14 people on a wood cook stove and had intermittent running water and electricity. Julia was age three to seven during this period. In 1947, Garl Steven was born and they moved to the valley. They purchased an acre of land along Jacksonville Highway. Their first home was a surplus tent. Garl worked in mills and built a home as they could buy material.
Bessie loved her husband and children. She helped raise grandchildren and was happiest when she was with "little ones." She could make due and at the same time enjoy life. She was almost never down and inspired those around her to do the best. She encouraged everyone to dream big and still held her expectations to a high standard.
In 2002, Bessie was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The last years of her life were difficult and declining. She, however, remained happy and positive. She spent the last years of her life at Farmington Square, a memory care facility. Even with declining capabilities she would smile and hug anyone. She remained independent to the last and made her opinion known.
A memorial service will be held at Perl Funeral Home and Siskiyou Memorial Park, 2100 Siskiyou Blvd., Medford, OR 97504, on Saturday, January 21, 2012, at 2:00 p.m.
She will be missed.