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Elsie Mae Houck

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Elsie Mae Houck peacefully went home to Eternity with her Lord Jesus from her home in Avila Beach at the age of 94, January 14, 2010. Elsie Mae Gribi was born in Hanford, California on May 25, 1915. Elsie Mae is preceded in death by her husband of 60 years, Melvin James Houck, whom she met when her family moved to Tulare in the 1930's. Together, Melvin and Elsie Mae owned and operated Mel Houck Products, and later Houck Industries. Melvin is credited with inventing drawer slide hardware for residential cabinetry. The company which manufactured "Go-E-Z Drawer Slides" is still operating in Greensburg, Indiana. Elsie Mae was the bookkeeper for the business and worked alongside Melvin at work and in the home as they raised their three children. As a member of the "Greatest Generation", Elsie Mae was born at the dawn of WWI, grew up during the Roaring Twenties, and came to womanhood through the time of the Great Depression. She was Salutatorian upon graduating from Hanford High School and attended business college at Fresno Normal School. Elsie Mae was a long time member of the Tulare United Methodist Church and other organizations including Las Madrinas Guild. She enjoyed playing golf with the Avila Bay Women's Golf Club. She and Melvin enjoyed representing Tulare in the first visit to Teixeira, the sister city in the Azores, while Melvin was Mayor of Tulare. She felt very blessed to have raised her family during the boom years after WWII. She especially was grateful that she had many opportunities to travel all over the world with her husband, family and friends. Those trips were a highlight of her life as she was an avid student of history and culture. She was a lifelong learner and loved to read biographies of our American founding fathers and then discuss them with her family. A favorite gift on her 89th birthday was a world atlas, which she pored over with great interest many an evening in her home. Elsie Mae studied another book - the Bible. Mornings she would be found sitting in her den reading and underlining favorite passages. Read Proverbs 31 and you will have a picture of her - verses 25-26 - especially: "Strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." After reading she prayed for God to meet the needs of her children and grandchildren. We will miss those prayers. Psalm 16 - "The Lord is my inheritance - indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me." Elsie Mae is survived by her three children and their spouses, Peter and Jan Houck of Arroyo Grande, Penny and Larry Woods of San Luis Obispo, and Pamela and Chris Gist of Visalia. She is also survived by 11 loving grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren and other extended family members. One more "daughter" is the Houck family's Greek exchange student, Georgette Psomas who lived with the family in 1961. The relationship became more than that of a student / host family and continues to this day with many visits to Greece by the Houcks as well as visits to the USA from Georgette and members of her family, including her son, Petros and his wife Eleni who visited with Elsie Mae last summer. One of Elsie Mae's grandsons dubbed her "Classy Mae" when he made up an email address for her. This describes her well as all who knew her would attest. She was the most wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and friend, and she will be sorely missed by all. A service to celebrate Elsie Mae's life will take place on Tuesday, January 19 at the United Methodist Church, Kern and "G" Streets, Tulare, at 1:00 p.m., followed by interment at the Tulare District Cemetery. Memorial gift suggestions in lieu of flowers to: Tulare United Methodist Church, 228 West Kern Avenue, Tulare, CA 93274-3946. (559) 686-8523. Hospice Partners of the Central Coast, www.hospicepartners.org. Tulare Historical Museum, P.O. Box 248 Tulare, CA 93275-0248

Published in Tulare Adv-Register on Jan. 18, 2010
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