Memories of Dorothy Winifred Last Rawlins:
Remarks by her son, Bruce Rawlins,
at her funeral
Kennewick, Washington, March 22, 1991.
When someone gives you life and then gives their whole life in your service, it makes a profound difference. My mother did that for me.
Dorothy Winifred Last was born October 28, 1904 in London, England. Now I've given you her middle name. But next time you see her don't call her Winifred. She never liked it.
She was born to Walter George David Last and Sarah Ann Hardesty, the third child and only daughter of this family. This was Grandpa's second family. His first wife had passed away.
Grandpa and Grandma joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and at that time the Church encouraged them to move to the Utah area. So they brought their little family to Preston, Idaho in 1911, and later moved a few miles to Lewiston, Utah.
Grandpa came first and sent money back to Grandma, who brought Charles, Tom, Dorothy, George and Frank by herself. Can you imagine it?
Mother was seven and remembers many things, which she recorded in her history. Three more brothers were born, David, Preston and James. James is here today, the last Last of Mom's generation.
Mom was born premature, weighing about two pounds. But her scrappy nature allowed her to survive and prepare to live with six brothers.
She said that they had no problem with the U.S. schools. She wondered why they had her read aloud more than any other student. She finally concluded that the teacher wanted to hear her accent.
Grandpa ran a little store and called it "Walter Last and Sons". Mother wondered about the name since she and Grandpa did most of the work in it. The boys usually worked on local farms.
After high school Mom went to Salt Lake City and took a course in sewing. It seemed to me that she could sew anything. She made me a leather coat out of scraps.
December 15th, 1926, she married Aerial A. Rawlins in the Logan Temple for time and eternity. He was a local boy she had known since she was 10 years old. He had recently served a mission for the Church in Indiana.
They had a couple of years of pretty good times. They bought a little farm and moved a two-room building on to it for a home. Then came the depression of 1929 along with a son, Bruce, and the economic crash. Things were bad and got worse.
I remember Mom pushing the milk cart to the neighbors, nearly out of my sight, to get all of our water. They sold the cows one by one to make farm payments, but ended up losing everything but the two-room house, which they moved to Grandpa Rawlins' place.
While they had lost material things, they did not lose me nor my brother, Stephen, born three years later, nor Claude, born 3 years after him.
It was hard for Mom with no plumbing in the house. But it was a great place for boys. Uncle Jimmy and Lin, Dad's youngest brother, were my big brothers.
I remember a scientific project Steve and I had going well, with specimens collected from the irrigation ditches, until Claude, then a toddler, came along and spoiled it. Both Steve and I complained to Mom "Make Claude quit drinking our pollywogs."
Dad worked anywhere he could. If he found work it was for one dollar per day or less. Sometimes in the winter he would take jobs out of town and be gone. I have memories of helping Mom keep things going -- digging potatoes and carrots from the storage pit, milking Cherry Blossom, our cow, night and morning. With help from uncles we made it.
I worried about going to school smelling like Cherry Blossom. Our two-room house didn't have too many facilities. But mom did all she could to send me to school smelling good.
Twice Dad thought he had found good work. We moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho, and then to Logan, Utah. Neither place brought many good memories for Mom.
Then came the big move to White Bluffs, 30 miles north of here This was a fearful move for Mom -- so far from family. But the gloomy predictions of others proved false. This was no doubt the happiest part of her life.
The home in White Bluffs had five rooms this time, with 10 acres of land. It was so new that it wasn't even complete yet. It even had running water, in the kitchen only. I remember that it cost $500, but we had no money. Mom helped by packing fruit for a neighbor.
There were terrific neighbors at White Bluffs. Mom played in a little band for dances at the Grange Hall. There was a little branch of the Church that met in the same hall. She played the piano there too. It seemed that there was always a play or something she would play the piano for. Lasts seem to know how to have fun.
One day our neighbor saw mom walking to our mailbox and offered her a ride. She started running and Archie said that his Model T could not catch her. Steve tried to out run her, also without success.
At Christmas time the whole community put on a program. Each Church had a part. The few who were house-bound were sung to by the carolers riding in the old wooden-framed school bus.
On January 16, 1942, I was called out of class by our principle, Mrs. Moody. It was a phone call from Dad. We had a new baby sister in Pasco Hospital. So, another blessing from White Bluffs. After being promised by the doctor that each of her boys would be a girl, she had given up -- almost.
In 1943 a government representative called the whole community to the Grange Hall. His message was simple: "Be out of your homes by June 30 or a big Army truck will move you out." Mom's Garden of Eden ended. We left all we had started -- gardens, orchards, friends.
We moved to Walla Walla. Mom and Dad worked and saved enough to start to buy our home in Valley Chapel. It had four rooms, no indoor water, and no power. Kind of primitive for our mother to make a home -- kerosene lamps, hand-pumped water heated on the stove to wash clothes on the scrubbing board, bathing in the "Buck House" for boys and Dad. But this untamed place war baby sister, Helen, it may not have been so wonderful. Before we moved in we had let her fall into the creek on a cold day.
Working together we got power, added two bedrooms, and eventually indoor plumbing and hot water. World War II ended. Things were going quite well. Mom was seeing some dreams come true. I was working in Spokane and received a phone call. Dad had lost his leg in a tractor accident.
Mom went to work to support the family, walking five miles to cook at the Blue Mountain Sanatarium. Steve and Claude ran our farm. Of course each job was preceded by a wrestling match to see who got to milk old Pet or whatever. Mom worked 20 years at Blue Mountain.
Finally the folks retired to grow grapes, raspberries and vegetables for anyone needing some. Mom always loved people. I don't think she knows what a stranger is. Thousands of letters and phone calls kept her involved in many lives.
One highlight in her life was in 1975, when she was taken by her brother, George, and his wife to England. They visited descendants from her Dad's first family. The even found the house they had left 64 years earlier.
Mom and Dad spent six years in Bellevue near Helen. Mom loved the greenery and the opportunity to perform Temple work. Two years ago they moved to Kennewick where they made new friends.
I thank my Heavenly Father for a mother who not only gave us life, but also taught us the values our Savior taught of what life was for.
Mom has left, for a while, her husband, Aerial A. Rawlins; one brother, James Last of Pilot Rock, Oregon; sons, Bruce of Medford, Oregon; Stephen of Silver Spring, Maryland; Claude of Richland, Washington; a daughter, Helen of Bellevue, Washington; 22 living grandchildren (1 deceased); and 29 great grandchildren.