Some people go through life quietly doing good works without expecting thanks or realizing how much they are loved. I suspect that was true of an Oregonian named Effie Neth who passed late in 2017 and was sweetly and tenderly celebrated by some of her many friends.
I did not know Effie in her lifetime; met her only by way of a note from Joella Ewing, a mutual friend who lives in Eugene. We exchange emails monthly to keep in touch and last month she described the memorial ceremony she had participated in for Effie at an ocean-side vista near Coos Bay.
Effie was 70 years old, a member of an outdoor adventure group known as the Obsidians, and an environmentalist who helped on restoration work through a group known as The Great Old Broads for Wilderness. The title and purpose of this environmental group seems to speak volumes about Effie’s endless commitment to important causes.
Her list of activities and projects would seem exhausting for a woman half her age. She stumped for social justice, was active in the Resist Trump movement, participated in programs at the Natural History Society, belonged to an RV club and traveled the country. And everywhere that she went, she recruited others to the good works.
Effie’s schedule tells us about her activism, but the love she earned is reflected in the action of her cadre of friends, determined to carry out her final wishes and to honor her life with a memorial service at the Obsidian Lodge and then a coastal memorial as well.
Joella wrote about the outdoor memorial: “There must have been a storm at sea because the waves were especially high, breaking mightily as they hit the rocks. We took turns reading poems etc. that reminded us of Effie and Sue played her flute as we scattered her ashes at dusk.”
There were several participants who made the trip to the coast – Lana and Richard, Judy, Bea, Barbie, LaRea and John, Cory, Sue, Joella. The group then traveled down the coast for a two-night stay in Effie’s favorite beach house rental.
Over the coming two days the friends visited some of Effie’s favorite haunts. There were long beach walks, the Christmas lights at the Shore Acres botanical gardens, the shops and boutiques of Bandon’s Old Town. They devoured home-made seafood chowder and toasted Effie with champagne and a decadent chocolate cake. And they shared their memories of her.
Whatever one’s belief about the beyond, one has to know that Effie’s spirit or her memory was present for the loving tribute; that her good works were known and valued in her lifetime and the essence of Effie will be remembered for decades to come.
As Joella wrote, “Effie was an inspiration to so many because she didn’t try to be. She just was.”
— Jonnie Martin