Arline Day-Chambers passed away Saturday in Ashland, Oregon. She was 94.
“Nana,” as she was always known among her family, was a fourth generation Californian born to Lovell and Helen Hunter Hamilton and raised on the family ranch near Point Arena. She attended many schools along the Northcoast as her parents worked the logging camps.
During her high school years in Point Arena, Arline's father was a lightkeeper at the Point Arena Lighthouse. As a young woman, Arline married George W. McMillen, but later in life she met and married the man she would always describe as her “soul mate,” Louie W. Kramer. Arline became a registered nurse through the nursing program at Santa Rosa Junior College, and worked for many years at the Santa Rosa Community Hospital. When she lost Louie Kramer in 1977, she married Richard Day of Boonville and she and Richard lived happily together for many years before his death in? Soon after Richard Day's death Arline moved to Selma, Oregon where she quickly made new friends and enjoyed an active life exploring Southern Oregon. In Selma, Arline met Richard Chambers and the new couple settled in Ashland, Oregon. Arline is survived by her husband Richard; her son William (Joan) Kramer; her brother Harry (Betty) Hamilton; and her sister Joyce (Dale) Pratt. She is also survived by her devoted and much loved grandchildren, David (Tammy Durston) Kramer; Christy (Justin Reilly) Kramer: and Stephen (Amy) Kramer, six great-grand children and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Arline was the matriarch of an extended family that included the many friends she made through the years, all of whom Arline considered as family. She was truly a Nana to all.
Services for family and friends will be at the Methodist Church, Boonville, on Saturday, 17 March at 11am. Private interment will follow at the Manchester Evergreen Cemetery.
Memorial contributions in Arline's memory may be directed to your local Humane Society.
I'll call Arline by her first name because that's how I knew her. Ordinarily, I prefer the formal Mr. or Mrs. or Miss or Ms. in obituaries which, like everything else, seems to me to have become informal to the point of disrespect. A person in his or her ninth decade of life isn't a child, and death at any age is not a ball game. But here, writing about my friend with her first name, I intend the deepest respect for a person quite dear to me.
We were great friends, Arline and I, for many of the years that Arline lived in Boonville. Ours was an odd friendship, I suppose, given the large discrepancy in our ages, not that I'm a kid myself, but Arline was good company with a quick wit and a store of mordant assessments of local personalities that still make me laugh.
I got to know Arline and her late husband Richard “Dick” Day in the middle 1980s, although I'd known Dick informally during the years he worked out of Boonville for CalTrans. Dick Day, as some of us will recall, descended from the Day family ranch, a Philo landmark now converted to wine grapes and called Standish. The Day family had come to the Anderson Valley from the Isle of Mann, making their way for three generations on the family ranch near Philo. Dick remembered as a kid the patriarch of the Jeans family, a freed slave, who'd homesteaded Ham Canyon due west of the Anderson Valley Elementary School. The old man would show the kids the whip scars on his back. Mr. Jeans, by the way, cleared the land for the Little Red School House, now home to the Anderson Valley Historical Society. Dick told me once that he'd enlisted in 1941 because he knew he'd be drafted anyway. “The Army told me I'd be back home in a year. I got back in 1946,"he laughed. “The day before I got on the train, I treated myself to a fancy night in the fanciest place I could think of in Mendocino County, the Palace Hotel in Ukiah.”
So, there they were, the two Mendocino County natives formed in a time and a place that is now barely a memory. Arline told me that she was grateful all her life for the love and security provided by her parents, and that the values instilled in her by them had to account for her ability to always move optimistically on despite the astounding changes and wild events she'd witnessed over her long and productive life. You'd never hear Arline cursing the hippies or going on about the serial treacheries of elected officials. Her reaction to the odd and the outrageous was the chuckle. All of it amused her.
Arline was first a family person, but she was also two people, a family person and an animal person. I always suspected her two allegiances ran neck and neck, with family by a nose at the tape. I was not an animal person when I met Arline, and she would chide me about this or that remark I'd made about how some dog people irritated me. She would say, “I see your point, but it's the owner not the dog.”
I first got to know to know Arline and Dick in, of all places, Boonville's high school gym. Dick was always a great sports fan, and had played all the sports for Boonville in the years just before World War Two. He and Arline loved high school basketball, and for years attended all of the high school's home games. My children also spent many happy hours in the gym as many hundreds of young people have since. We began watching the games together and became friends.
Left a widower in the late 1970s, Dick said he thought back to a certain vivacious, dark-haired girl from Point Arena. “I remember seeing her when we played over there,” he said. The dark-haired girl was of course Arline. The two rekindled what had been a high school flirtation and lived happily together in Boonville for many years.
I now live in their old home where I listen to Giants ball games in the same corner of their living room where I'd always find Dick watching the Giants when I drove up to meet Arline for our periodic outings. He would have on his Giants cap, sitting in an easy chair listening to the ball game and gazing out the big livingroom window at the east hills.
My inherited dog, the first I'd owned, had twice flunked obedience school. I'm sure I inspired Roscoe to even more anarchic behavior through inexperience with animals, but by the time I read a couple of books on dogs, and Arline had instructed me in the basics, Roscoe was irreparably set in his wild ways. And Arline had a whole herd of heedless dogs. I know the word for dogs in the aggregate is 'pack,' but Arline's animals always seemed to be stampeding. She'd open the door to her house and here they came, somewhere between six or seven or eight of them tumbling into her van with my Roscoe, with at least as many cats scrambling out of the way. These expeditions occurred among great four-legged tumult coming and going. Arline also had a tiny poodle, a lap dog that never left her and bit me whenever it got the opportunity. We'd drive the whole show up into the hills where Arline had a favorite view spot. I'd take off with the dogs for a 90-minute cross country hike while she and her nippy little lap dog looked west towards Point Arena where Arline had been born and where her grandfather had been a pioneer rancher.
Graduating from Point Arena High School in the teeth of the Great Depression, Arline went on to become a nurse, and worked for several years, among other places, at the old County Hospital at Low Gap and Bush in Ukiah. The hippies had arrived and Arline laughed that a man she described as a 'hippie doctor' had told her, “You're one of us, Arline.” Not exactly, but Arline was a very smart, tolerant person who found much in life to be amused by, much like the 'old souls' our neo-mystics like to go on about as they describe a person of understanding and sympathy, a person who knows instinctively that the world is a big place with all kinds of people in it, and you take it as you find it without it taking you. Arline was certainly a sympathetic person of instant understanding. Nursing draws lots of them, and she was a natural. .
I never talked with Arline about her sorrows, but she'd sometimes mention this or that person or episode that had caused her great pain, but she'd always quickly move on to merrier reminiscences. She had always managed to move on to find the happiness that always seemed to find her first. I always felt privileged to be her friend.