November 22, 1919 - April 7, 2012
Resident of Watsonville
Naomi Irene Powell was born in Findlay, Ohio on Nov. 22, 1919, the youngest child of Carl and Ada Powell. Naomi began her transition to a new life at the age of 92 on April 7, 2012 with her three children at her bedside.
Naomi graduated from Bowling Green University with a B.S. in Education. Later in life, she would obtain a Masters Degree in Physical Education. Naomi was a teacher for two years before the war then she volunteered for three years of service in the Red Cross as a recreation instructor, rehabilitating service members in stateside hospitals. It was one of the greatest experiences of her life. She developed a love of sport fishing and a lifelong dislike for playing "bingo".
It was during her service in the Red Cross that she and friends attended a dance at the Officer's Club in Memphis, Tennessee where she met "the most handsome young officer". His name was Ed Ueberrhein and he was soon to become her husband. Naomi and Ed made their way to California after World War II and were married in Berkeley on April 5, 1946. They fell in love with the beautiful Pajaro Valley and settled in Watsonville in 1949 where Ed practiced optometry for forty years. Naomi and Ed especially enjoyed long weekends in the Napa Valley, sampling wine and relaxing in the mineral spas. They also traveled to Europe and made regular trips to Pismo Beach and Hawaii, where Naomi loved the colorful tropical flowers and the plentiful sunshine. After retirement, Naomi went on an African safari, including a cruise up the Nile to Egypt.
A few years after Ed passed away (1995), Naomi was reunited with a college sweetheart, Lyman Keown. He moved to Watsonville from Chicago. They resided in adjacent apartments at Valley Heights Senior Living and enjoyed several years of companionship.
Naomi's teaching and fitness career spanned more than 30 years. She taught in Fremont, Ohio, Vallejo, California, and at Watsonville High School for 25 of those years. At WHS, her name was synonymous with "modern dance". She was a vibrant and respected role model to her many students who still tell her family what an inspiration she was and how much they benefited from her kind guidance throughout the years. Along with Naomi's profession of teaching Physical Education, she practiced what she preached well into her late 80s. She was ahead of her time when it came to keeping fit and staying in shape through a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Naomi loved to dance, often grabbing Ed by the hand on the spur of the moment to dance anywhere there was music that moved her. As time passed, she danced less and less, until finally she could dance no more. In her final days it was her greatest wish to dance again. We are sure she's dancing now!
Naomi is survived by her children, Jill James, Jack, Bill and his wife Susan. She was a proud and devoted grandmother to her four grandchildren, Jamie, Cassie, Scott and Christine. Naomi was very close to her nephew Lynn Powell and his wife Barbara. She is also survived by her loving sister-in-law Dorothy Powell.
Her kind smile and gracious presence will be missed forever by everyone who knew and loved her.
A Celebration of Naomi's Life will be held on April 25, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. at the All Saints Episcopal Church, 437 Rogers Avenue in Watsonville. Cremation arrangements entrusted to Mehl's Colonial Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, her family prefers donations in memory of Naomi to: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Church Street Station, P.O. Box 780, New York, NY 10008-0780. http://www.michaeljfox.org
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel from Apr. 14 to Apr. 22, 2012