Nora Waller Davis Tippie

Nora Ethel Waller Biography

My maternal grandmother, Nora Ethel Waller, was born on July 23, 1912 in Astoria, Clatsop County, Oregon to James Allen Waller and Daisie Irene Calkins. She grew up in a large family; she had three older half siblings; Lillie May Stevens (1901-1988), Lawrence Llewellen Stevens (1904-1995), and Mary Frances “Tootie” Stevens (1907-2006). Nora was the oldest of her siblings; Verna Elizabeth (1914-1964), Edward Allen (1916-2013), Minerva “Minnie” (1919-2013), Virginia (1923 (living)), Betty Jean (1926-1971), and Lester Orville (1929-2007). Her father worked in the timber mills sharpening the saws. The family moved to Washington, settling along the shores of Lost Lake in Mason County near Shelton.

In 1926, the family was living in Elgin, Pierce County, Washington when her sister Virginia was born. She met Ernest Davis (Ernie) through her older brother, Lawrence. She was 14 years old and Ernie was 28. Her father objected to her dating at age 14 and especially dating a much older man. Her mother helped Nora disobey her father by allowing her to go on double dates with Lawrence and his girlfriend Lillie. Her father withdrew his objections and gave his legal written consent for his daughter to marry Ernie on August 3, 1927 in Bremerton, Washington.

Nora and Ernie were residing in Tacoma, Washington when their son was born on October 27, 1927; they named him Kenneth Ernest. Their second son, Wayne Lewis, was born on June 21, 1929 and my mother, Irene Nora, was born on April 7, 1932.  The family had two houses, the main family home in NE Tacoma which remained in the family until 1965 and a house along the Pacific coast in Moclips, Washington. They went between the homes from 1930 to 1943.

In 1943, due to the increased tensions and military activity along the Pacific coastline, they returned to the safety of the NE Tacoma house. They never returned to the beach house. Both of my grandparents worked at the nearby Tacoma shipyard until the end of the war. After the war, Ernie worked at the shipyard as a longshoreman. Nora went on to work in women’s department stores.

They divorced in approximately 1945. My mother was 13 years old and she went before the family court judge during the custody phase of the proceedings. She was very close to Ernie and chose to live with him and her brothers. Gram Nora lived in the nearby downtown Tacoma. It was a bitter divorce.

Tragedy struck when Wayne was killed in a car accident on March 6, 1954 in Olympia, Washington. He left behind his young wife and his grieving father, mother, and sister. Not being able to locate Kenneth to notify him added to their grief. But even the deep grief of losing Wayne did not mend the bitterness between my grandparents.  Ten years after the divorce, they would not stand next to each other in my parents’ wedding day pictures.

Gram was a talented self-taught seamstress. She worked in the nicer department stores as an alteration seamstress and as a custom milliner. Another talent was her ability to a suit in a storefront window, draft a pattern, and make the latest fashion pieces for herself. Her coordinated outfits consisting of a suit, matching hat, and purse made a beautiful and elegant statement. The inside of the garments were as beautiful finished as the outside. In her free time, she made intricate hand embroidery and needlework pieces.

She found love a second time and married Claude Ernest Tippie (1898-1993) in 1947 when she was 35 years old. Claude was a commercial baker, a proud and active member of the Baker’s Union, and a Shriner. His favorite nickname for my grandmother was “Honeybun”. Claude loved baking bread, playing cards, living in the city, taking care of his Honeybun and his “nip” every afternoon.

After retiring, Gram Nora began baking and decorating custom cakes. She specialized in wedding cakes but made hundreds of cakes for church events, weddings, and birthdays. She had this amazing ability to visual intricate designs and bring them to reality. Capable of working in multiple mediums, she truly was a renaissance artist.

Gram Nora generously shared her talents by teaching anyone who expressed an interest in learning a particular craft. She taught me how to sew at an early age, just as she had taught my mother. I learned couture sewing from her, every detail of the process executed with precision. My mother was a less patient person and taught me short cuts such as skipping basting and pinning. As a result, I have a great foundation of skills and shortcuts which I utilize in sewing and quilting.

She loved visiting our farm for an extended time whenever possible. Claude would indulge her wishes but after a couple of weeks, he would be ready to return to their apartment in the city. She remained a country girl at heart.

They travelled in their retirement years, especially via trains . They often visited relatives during their travels and came to California to visit me several times. Claude enjoyed sampling wines at the local wineries. Gram did not indulge in the wine but she loved the vineyards and the beautiful Californian architecture. Both of them enjoyed exploring the backroads of the California wine country.

In her later years, Gram had health issues. She had a series of strokes which made it necessary for them to move to a nice assisted living facility. She suffered one last stroke and passed away on February 19, 1992. Although in good health, Claude never recovered from losing his “Honeybun” and he joined her in eternity on February 23, 1993.  They are laid to rest in a dual grave in the Tacoma Cemetary.

 

 

 

Lawrence Stevens and Lillie, unidentified couple, Nora Waller and Ernie Davis circa 1927

Nora in a beautiful outfit

Claude Tippie and Nora Waller Davis on their wedding day 1947

Back Left counterclockwise: Nora, Verna, Daisy, Minnie, Ida (Ed’s wife), Alatha (friend), May, Betty

Nora, Claude, and granddaughter Christine Wentworth, Santa Rosa, CA 1990

Nora Waller Davis Tippie decorating a cake

Nora decorating a cake

Wedding cake made by Nora

Nora in outfit for a Pythian Sisters event

Nora’s portrait

Irene Davis

Irene Nora Davis Biography

My mother, Irene Nora Davis, was born in April 1932 in Tacoma, Washington. Her parents were Ernest Nathaniel Davis and Nora Ethel Waller. She was the third of three children. The family spent the first several years of Irene's life living in Tacoma and in Moclips, a small community along the Pacific coastline.

When she was about three years old, a neighbor suggested that her parents have her hips evaluated for possible orthopedic issues.  Mom was diagnosed with dislocated hips. She underwent a year long treatment to move her hips into proper alignment at Children's Hospital in Seattle, Washington. The treatment consisted of applying a series of full body casts to slowly cause movement. She recalls being in the hospital for a month at a time without seeing her family. Her family had to return to Moclips (along the Pacific coast) and it was a long, challenging trip. The hospital staff took great care with her. During the year in the body casts, she was carried as she was immobile.

The family remained in Moclips until concerns about security along the Pacific coast during WWII prompted a departure. She remembers bunkers being dug in the sand dunes (one was directly behind their house) and watching the soldiers' maneuvers on the beach. It was a time of great anxiety for the adults but the kids were fascinated by the soldiers.  My grandparents moved back to the house on 56th Ave NE in Tacoma, Washington in 1943. Work was available for both of them at the nearby Tacoma Shipyards.

NE Tacoma is located on a large bluff area overlooking the Port of Tacoma to the south and Puget Sound to the west. This would remain the family home Ernie's death in 1965. They lived close to Davis and Waller family members in Tacoma and Gig Harbor. Family gatherings with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins took place regularly. Mom was close to her first cousins, most of whom were older, and treasured their childhood times together.

Mom had a grand adventure when about she was ten years old. She went on a car camping trip with her Aunt Margaret (Ernie's sister) and Uncle Alton. They took a meandering path to Yellowstone National Park and back to Tacoma.  Margaret and Alton were a couple of free spirits and there many spontaneous side trips. They slept in a tent and cooked over campfires. It was a memorable summer.

Ernie and Nora divorced in the mid 1940's. Mom and her brothers, Kenneth and Wayne, stayed with their father in the family house. Her mother, Nora, lived nearby in downtown Tacoma. Mom did not want to attend Stadium High School which was a very large school. True to her independent nature, she walked several blocks to take a city bus to Federal Way High school and graduated in 1950. After graduating, she went to cosmetology school and worked in a salon in Tacoma.

She met my father, Ronald Daniel Wentworth, at a dance hall in 1955. They married three months later in Tacoma and she moved to the Wentworth family farm near Oakville, Washington. Being a dairy farmer's wife was a new adventure for her. She was  not always happy with the cows, especially when they broke through a fence and had to be chased down, rounded up, and put back into their pasture. I think she was very happy when my brother, Art and I, were old enough to ride horses (and/or bikes) and herd the heifers and cows when needed. In time, she became a country girl at heart and enjoyed living in the country.

My dad hired a hay crew every summer consisting of high school boys. Mom and I  would cook a hot lunch for them every day. These boys would eat a lot of food. We would prepare feasts consisting of platters of meat, multiple vegetables, salad, bread, and desserts.  She always had plenty of ice cold water and snacks for them throughout the day. If they were going to be working late, we would cook them dinner as well.

When Mom wasn't chasing cows, cooking, doing laundry, taking care of kids, doing garden work, canning, and everything else a farm wife does, she enjoyed sewing, crocheting, decorating cakes, and other crafts. She was always busy. After they retired from farming, mom and dad would regularly meet friends at the Elma Senior Center. While Dad played cards, she enjoyed making crafts with the ladies. The crafted items were sold and produced a steady income benefiting the center.

Mom never returned to the big city life. She is happily living on a small piece of land which was part of the original Wentworth family farm. She enjoys playing Mexican Train dominoes with her friends weekly, putting together jigsaw puzzles, watching TV movies, and she especially loves watching Live PD.

Irene Davis, playmate at Moclips beach, Washington 1935

Irene Davis and playmate Moclips, WA

Irene Davis senior picture 1950

Irene Davis senior picture 1950

Irene Nora Davis and Ronald Daniel Wentworth wedding day; May 28, 1955 Tacoma, WA

Irene, Christine, Mary, Nora- Christine's first birthday party

Irene Davis Wentworth, baby Christine, Mary Stevens Walko, Nora Waller Davis Tippie

Irene Davis Wentworth

Irene Davis Wentworth at home 2016