Gussie Bee Fridae, widow of Don Fridae, passed away Wednesday morning, March 6, 2013.
Gee Bee, as she was known locally, was three weeks away from celebrating her 94th birthday in April.
Don taught English and coached at Willits Jr/Sr. High School for more than 40 years.
Gee Bee was born to Beatrice and Augustus (Gus) Peterson, hence her nickname, on April 1, 1919, in Helena, Arkansas. When she finished high school, she worked as a clerk and waitress in various shops around El Dorado, Arkansas. She met her future husband, Don Fridae, there in 1940, and they were married in September 1941. He told her she had the prettiest lips he'd ever seen.
They spent the war years in Vallejo, where Don was a recruiter for the Navy.
After returning to El Dorado, the couple started a family. They had three girls and a boy, who joined Jim Elmore, born to Gee Bee in a previous marriage.
In 1955, the family moved to Doyle, to live near Gee Bee's brother, Harold Peterson, who lived in Chester at the time. Two years later, they settled in Willits, where Don took a job teaching English at the Pine Street School.
Don and Gee Bee enjoyed golfing when the golf course was first built at Brooktrails in 1960. She won several trophies in her early years playing golf.
Gee Bee was well known as a seamstress and cake decorator, making wedding dresses and wedding cakes for many brides in the Willits area. She also worked at Laney's as a clerk and seamstress.
For a dozen years, she was a cook at the Willits Boy Scout Lake. She worked as a lookout for the California Division of Forestry and worked at Two Rock Lookout for nearly 20 years.
Gee Bee was an avid bridge player, and was part of many bridge groups that met regularly in Willits.
When Don retired in 1976, they began a tradition of spending the early spring of each year at their son's condominium in Moloka'I, Hawaii, for a couple months. They made a cadre of friends there, and enjoyed their honorary "kama'aina" status with many locals.
Gee Bee remained active after the passing of Don in 2001. She continued their annual trips to Moloka'I for several years, and travelled to Vermont and New York last June to see one of her grandsons graduate from Bennington College.
Gee Bee is survived by her son, Jim Elmore, of Reno, Nevada; daughter Dona Fridae of Willits; daughter Dixie Southwick of Winnemucca; daughter Gracie Fridae of Willits; and son Woody Fridae of Winters. She is also survived by 14 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren, and six great-great grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will be held this Sunday, March 10, at 1 p.m. at the Golden Rule Mobile Home Estates clubhouse south of Willits. Friends are welcome to share food and stories.