Ella Schaffer Remmick, who will soon turn 101-years-old, is one tough lady.
Remmick learned the value of hard work as she grew up farming alongside her four sisters and one brother on a small farm in Streeter, North Dakota during the 1920s.
After completing the eighth grade in a one-room schoolhouse, her family decided Remmick’s help on the farm was more important than attending class, so she dropped out of school. Through drought and a countrywide depression, her family provided for Remmick, her daughter Nancy Miller said.
Now she’s gearing up to celebrate her 101st birthday on Aug. 16.
Remmick married her childhood sweetheart, Alvin Remmick, in October 1941. After a year of farming in Streeter, Alvin was inducted into the Air Force and was sent to Monterey, California. Ella went with her husband and worked at a Five and Dime store, Miller said.
Then in 1943, Alvin was deployed to Edmonton, Canada where Ella joined him and became a secretary for the Alaskan Highway Development.
After a few years of moving around places like Montana and Maryland, the couple found their way to the small town of Battle Ground. The community was about 750 people strong in 1953 and Main Street was considered the hub of all activity, Miller said.
By then, Ella and Alvin had a newborn son, Steven. Their daughter Nancy arrived seven years later in 1959.
The Remmicks purchased and operated Battle Ground Motors in 1953 and sold the business 10 years later.
After describing the country life Battle Ground provided, most of Ella’s family members also moved “out west,” Miller said.
Ella largely spent her career as a mail carrier in Battle Ground. In 1963, she started as a substitute carrier, but then took on a full-time role.
“She loved this job and the many families on her route, until her retirement in 1982,” Miller wrote in an email.
In the early years, she would drive her personal vehicle with her left foot on the brake and gas pedals, while her right hand held envelopes to be stuffed into mailboxes.
It didn’t matter if it was raining, snowing or hailing. Ella would go out on her route, sometimes with a friend driving while she delivered the mail.
Miller said her upbringing helped shape both the grit and kindness that is ingrained into her personality.
“My mom never let anything go to waste,” she said. “She could not stand watching things be thrown out. She learned how to fend for herself.”
Ella’s love for gardening, cooking and sewing continued throughout her life, Miller said. Some of her favorite meals to fix were chicken and dumplings, sauerkraut strudels, pickled beets and kuchen, which is a German-style cake.
Since 1953, Ella and Alvin dedicated many hours to the Bethel Lutheran Church in Brush Prairie. Ella is still a member there.
Alvin died in October 2008, eight days before their 67th wedding anniversary. Ella continued to live in their longtime home until a series of strokes forced her to move into an assisted living care facility.
Two years ago after another stroke, Ella moved to Bright Care Adult Home in Brush Prairie. She still loves to visit with people and loves to see her two grandchildren, Tim Miller, 27, and Sarah Remmick, 22.
“She loved spending time with them and teaching them all her talents. She never said ‘no’ to babysitting and always attended whatever activities they were in,” Nancy Miller said.
Those interested in sending Ella a “Happy Birthday” message can mail it to 12811 NE 249th St., Battle Ground.