Olive Amsbury

Amsbury, Olive
Curiosity, hard work and love for family and friends were hallmarks of the life of Olive (nee Gaskell) Amsbury, who passed over June 22, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona, age 97. From her humble start on a Cameron, Missouri farm, Olive lived a rich, long life rooted in the deep faith of Midwestern Methodism. Early years were steeped in the hard life of Missouri farming and Montana ranching. Her "away-from-the-farm" work career ranged from working at age 16 at a Kansas City boarding house where she made breakfast for 15 construction workers before going to class (!) to the garment industry, where she sewed "thousands and thousands" of sleeves into Army shirts and jackets during World War II. "I sewed sleeves morning, noon and night and even in my sleep,"Olive would always recall about her contribution to the war effort. As a bookkeeper, Olive worked for the state of Arizona for 22 years until her retirement. In 1936, Olive married the love of her life, Joe Amsbury, who passed in 1968 after 32 years of marriage. Although Joe and Olive did not have children, they were god parents to more nieces and nephews than they "could count." Olive never met a child she couldn't love, and countless kids grew up under Olive's watchful, care-giving eye knowing they were deeply, deeply loved. As with her dad, Olive loved to sing, enjoying her many years and tours with Central United Methodist Church's choir. Next to Graceland, Branson, Missouri, was Olive's favorite vacation spot. With her beloved niece, Judy, the two of them would "paint the town red" taking in every show from one end of Branson to the other. They ALWAYS had front row seats, be it for Mel Tillis, Andy Williams or the Lennon Sisters. The music of the Gaithers also enriched Olive's life. She was listening to a Gaither's CD when she passed to the other side at Gardner Hospice. Olive's innate curiosity and creativity led her to join craft guilds, quilting circles, photo clubs and travel groups. Her commitment to her Christian faith inspired life-long involvements with United Methodist Women no matter where she lived. In widowhood, Olive was active in Arizona's Single United Methodists, becoming "spiritual mom" to numerous single, divorced and widowed men and women many, many years her junior. Olive also profoundly appreciated the spiritual renewal she received through the Walk to Emmaus community. In her last decade, Olive found late-in-life fulfillment as "god mother" to the special needs men and women of Lura Turner Homes for Developmentally Disabled Adults. Whether holding their hands, giving them hugs or teaching them to sew, Olive made all the LTH residents know that all they said and did mattered. She even went to summer camp with them at Camp Civitan at age 95! Surviving Olive are sister Iva, brothers David and Jim and many, many nieces and grand-nieces and nephews and grand-nephews, mostly in the Kansas City area. Preceding Olive in death were her parents Garfield and Lorena, and brothers John, Paul Roy and Tom. Life-long friends who saw Olive through good times (lots of them) and bad (few and far between) include the Moody family of Washington, D.C., the Potter family of Silver City, New Mexico and local friends Marcia Rehm, and Nelda Prosser and Don Townsend. A special thanks to medical personnel and caregivers who helped Olive live out her last days with grace and dignity: Banner Thunderbird, Hospice of the Valley, Sobel Family Practice and Sweet Home Adult Care, Peoria. Throughout her life, Olive was always dedicated to her church. Three congregations were blessed by Olive in her final years, and they in turn blessed her: Central UMC, CrossRoads UMC and Mission Bell UMC, where she was a member. A memorial service to celebrate Olive's contribution to our lives will be 11 a.m., Friday, August 2 in Pioneer Chapel, Central United Methodist, 1875 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix. Rev. Paul Self-Price and Rev. Larry Norris will officiate. Please wear purple. Graveside services will be in Horton, Kansas. When facing serious surgery five years ago, Olive said "If I don't make it through this, tell people I'd like them to give in my memory to Lura Turner Homes or the Hendersons." That time has come: Donations may be made in Olive's memory to: Lura Turner Homes, att: Max McQueen, 1432 N. 27th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ, 85009, or Give Ye Them to Eat, c/o Muriel and Terry Henderson, P.O. Box 2750, Pinetop, Arizona, 85935. While being wheeled away to surgery, the last thing Olive said, "Oh, and put something about John Wesley in my obituary." So here's a promise kept, the words of Methodist founder John Wesley: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." Olive Amsbury took these words to heart at an early age and lived them to the fullest. You can't ask for a better lived life than that.

Published in The Arizona Republic from July 21 to July 28, 2013