Our mother Marjorie (Marge) June Ewing died Thursday, January 9, 2020 in Boise, Idaho at the age of ninety-eight. She was born July 26, 1921 in Wallace, Idaho, to Glenn and Winifred Rarey. She and her sister Patricia were raised in Burke, Idaho, a small mining town near Wallace that was home to the Hecla Mining Company. Marge’s parents, grandparents, two uncles and an aunt lived in Burke on Canyon Creek next to the railroad track which ran through the middle of town. When the two girls walked to a small market nearby, they passed by seven saloons, a butcher shop, and a small cinema. Before daybreak Marge could often hear the train carrying miners up the canyon.
Marge was about nine when her family moved to Spokane where her parents purchased a small restaurant and named it Rarey’s Diner. While attending Lewis and Clark High School, Marge worked at the diner washing dishes and learning to cook. She was an excellent student and high school tennis champion.
In the fall of 1940 Marge enrolled at Washington State University where she earned a degree in Bacteriology and Public Health. During college Marge attended a dance class and was fortunate to be paired with Bill Ewing whom she thought was the most handsome guy in the class; they soon began dating. Both were broke, so dates generally consisted of walks and window shopping. In 1942 Marge and Bill eloped and were married fifty-five years until his death in 1997.
Marge and Bill moved to Boise in 1947 and set up his veterinary practice. While raising seven daughters, Marge volunteered with school PTA’s and the American Association of University Women. She was heavily involved in Girl Scouts and led our troops for many years. In 1961 she and Bill, along with two other adults, took nineteen girl scouts on a three- week tour of Mexico. Several years later she and another girl scout leader drove nine girl scouts to Chicago for a wonderful tour.
Marge served on the Boise City Council from 1970 to 1982. She never accepted contributions and paid all campaign expenses out of her own pocket. Some of you may remember her 1972 campaign slogan, “Men Pee Free, Why Can’t We”? That’s what Marge repeated to clubs and the press in her successful effort to get coin locks removed from the restroom stalls at the Boise airport. The Sacramento Bee published a clever article: “Boise Sniffs Freedom”. As a member of the Boise City Council, Marge was instrumental in selecting the current location of the Boise Public Library on Capitol Boulevard, moving the Greenbelt project forward, revamping the city’s inadequate sewer system and forming the Boise Urban Stages bus system. She and Bill worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for everyone in Boise and supported many organizations with their contributions.
Marge and Bill were ardent supporters of Bronco athletics and began attending football games in 1947. After Bill’s death, several of her sons-in-law accompanied her to basketball and football games until she could no longer attend. In addition to athletics, Marge strongly believed in public libraries and served as president of “Friends of the Library” from 1999 until 2003. In 2004 she wrote an opinion piece for the Idaho Statesman, making a case for branch libraries. The “Friends of the Library” were able to present the city of Boise with a $100,000 check to help establish branch libraries. The Marjorie Ewing Idaho Room, third floor at the main library, was named in her honor in 2013.
Marge had high expectations of us seven daughters, so in addition to school, she made sure we had music lessons, participated in city recreation programs, were involved in Girl Scouts or 4-H, church, and numerous other activities. She was independent, smart, energetic, and busy, but still found time to drive us to our various lessons and programs. She kept us busy and we kept her busy. She kept a large garden and only in her later years began to slow down. She became the sweetest “little old lady” and often enjoyed short drives to view the changes in the city along with a stop at Wendy’s for a junior Frosty.
We will always remember our large family celebrations and holiday dinners, full cookie jar, homemade grape juice, and candy dish. She was an incredible grandmother and spent many hours enriching the lives of her grandkids from the homemade ice-skating rink in the backyard and trips to the zoo and the library, swimming lessons, movies, and other activities.
Marge is survived by her sister Pat Rolison of Milwaukie, OR; daughters Patricia Wolter (Aaron), Shirley Ewing (Bill Ondrechen), Peggy Sutter (Bob), Gwen Engle (Dave), Carol Ann Boehmler (Eric) Sterling, AK; Karen Ewing (Bill Broome), and Mary Jo Fisher (Dewey) Garden Valley, ID. She also leaves behind 15 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren, and 1 great, great granddaughter. Marge was preceded in death by her husband, William J. Ewing and great grandsons Patrick Babbit and Jason Broome.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Brookdale Assisted Living for their service, The Terraces staff for the outstanding care they gave our mother in The Grove Memory Care facility, and Horizon Home Health and Hospice Care for their kindness and compassion. A celebration of life will be held at the Cloverdale Funeral Home on Saturday, February 8 at 1:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Boise Public Library or Silver Sage Council Girl Scouts of America.
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