Arlene Frances Shelley, born January 3, 1938 in Grangeville, Idaho, died on July 10, 2016.
I met Arlene in the last quarter of her life, when I married her stepson Martin. As I sit here and try to think of how one sums up a person’s life in a few sentences, I begin to remember the tough little lady I came to know. Arlene was always up for an adventure and she and her husband Dick, spent many hours sailing across the Puget Sound and Canadian waters with their sailboat. They traveled to Europe and car camped across the United States. They traveled to Alaska on the ferry and flew around the state in a small plane. Arlene loved to sew and I watched her create many special and unique quilts for her grandkids. I witnessed Arlene offer advice to family members and even strangers trying to help them with whatever difficulty they were dealing with. I saw her offer words of encouragement to her children and grandchildren. Arlene opened her home to several family members at different times throughout the years when they were dealing with a rough spot in life. Arlene always seemed to have a different grandkid staying with her at one time or another because they loved to hang out at her house. I remember this big pot of soup Arlene would make at Christmas time that everyone loved, and I remember her just being there for anyone who needed her. Dick got sick for several years, and Arlene was by his side each and every day helping him overcome his illness.
There were several times she didn’t think Dick was going to make it, but she never let that get her down. When she had a stroke a few years ago, Dick was able to start taking care of her, but she did not let the stroke overwhelm her and just overcame the new challenges facing her. During the years I knew Arlene, I was able to pick up nuggets of information about her past that helped create the lady I knew. She was a single mom, who lived in North Bend and raised six children. She worked as a cabinet maker, a furniture builder and later worked on the plywood line for several years at Weyerhaeuser.
The plywood line was extremely difficult and not usually a job for women so she had to prove herself to her coworkers and show them she was capable of keeping up. She knew she had to provide for her kids, so she did what it took to keep her job, working hard and long hours. Arlene was a special soul who had plenty of love to share with everyone. She usually took care of others before she worried about herself, and she even took care of her mother for twenty years. Arlene met and married Dick Shelley in 1988 and he treated her with the love and respect she deserved, and probably spoiled her a bit too. Dick and Arlene lived in Roslyn for most of their married life, but moved to Ellensburg a few years ago. Arlene struggled with rheumatoid arthritis for many years, but never let it get her down. She could be in an enormous amount of pain, but would just deal with it. There were times she couldn’t get out of her chair because it was just too difficult, but she wouldn’t ever mention it, she would just ask about what was going on in our life and chat away like nothing was wrong. She showed me a perseverance and toughness that I can’t really put into words, but am proud to have witnessed. Arlene loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren immensely. She was so proud of all of them and every time I saw her I would get to hear the latest story of what they were up to. Arlene recently got sick with pneumonia, and because of a weak immune system it ended up taking her from us unexpectedly, but thankfully she was surrounded by her children and grandchildren and Dick’s children as she passed on. I feel privileged to have been a part of Arlene’s life and know that she touched the lives of many, including mine. The last words she spoke to me were “I love you so much honey” and I feel fortunate for that. She was an incredibly special lady who will be remembered by many. Thank you Arlene for being a part of my life, I will always remember and love you, your daughter-in-law, Kari.
Arlene was preceded in death by her daughter Linda Reed, her parents Ben and Barbara Elizabeth (Andre”) Forsman, and her siblings, Gertrude, Doreen and Edward She is survived by her husband Dick; her sister Betty Feidler of Puyallup, WA, her daughters Marilyn (Roger) Baker of Albany, OR, Brenda (Jeff) Frenzel of Albany, OR, Lizzie Lorene (Michael) Moore of Fair Oaks, CA and Denice Charlene Trout of Mountlake Terrace, WA; son Robert Earl Cahoe of Douglas, AZ and stepsons Martin (Kari) Shelley of Ellensburg, WA, Greg Shelley of Ellensburg, WA, and Randy (Peggy) Swager, of Laporte, CO. Arlene leaves behind 21 grandchildren (Michelle, Kevin, Jeremy, Amber, Amy, Melina, Mason, Brandon, Sarah, Matthew, Dale, Caitlin, Michel, Scottie-Marie, Hans, Jason, Angie, Erin, Jonathan, Kevin and Sarah) and 26 great-grandchildren (Jacob, Aaron, Katelyn, Madelyn, Noah, Landen, Greyson, Merrin, Hayden, Atticus, Malia, Kai, Leilani, Anela, Nathan, Elena, Braeden, Jordan, Matthew, Josh, Marcus, Ian, Natalie, Pilar, Max and Amora) and many nieces and nephews and extended family who she loved.
Private services will be held at a later date.