Roberta Gayle Fretwell Eld passed away at her home in Caldwell on February 21, 2018. Her death was the result of complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was being cared for by her three daughters and other family members at the time of her passing.
Gayle was born in Nyssa, OR on February 8, 1937. She was the second of three children born to Marjorie Kilgore (Nickens) and Samuel Ramsey Fretwell.
When Gayle was a young child the family moved to a section of sagebrush desert outside of Parma. It took years of hard work to turn it into the beautiful, productive farmland that future generations enjoyed and Gayle played a role in that transformation.
Gayle was a friendly, happy child who was often caught up in her own world. Her older sister, Barbara, often recounted her stories of finishing the dishes on her own because Gayle had become distracted by other things. “It was just easier to do it myself” she would explain.
Gayle and her younger brother, Roger, both enjoyed the outdoors and spent many happy hours playing on the farm. During those years the two formed a special bond that lasted a lifetime.
Gayle attended Parma schools and graduated as class Valedictorian in 1955. After she graduated from high school she attended secretarial school and later worked at Dairyman’s Creamery in Caldwell.
Gayle met Tom Eld at a church function when they were both teenagers. She was outgoing and talkative while he was shy and quiet. As the saying goes “opposites attract” and Gayle and Tom soon began dating. They were married on May 10, 1957. They remained married until Tom’s death in 2008.
The couple lived briefly in McCall and then moved to Caldwell where they remained. They had three daughters, Joy, Kristi and Barbara.
While her girls were young Gayle chose to be a full time mom. When her youngest was in junior high school Gayle took a job as a substitute mail carrier. Eventually she took a full time job driving a rural route in Middleton. Gayle loved the job and the people on her route. She was known for going the extra mile to serve her customers.
Gayle and Tom helped found Valley Pentecostal Church and Gayle taught children’s classes there for many years. She was a popular and well-loved teacher.
Gayle was a wonderful homemaker and loved her family unconditionally. She never loved camping but each year she did the necessary planning, purchased and packed the food and other necessities and took off with her family on an adventure in the mountains of Idaho. Those trips produced some very warm family memories. Gayle was wise enough to know the importance of those trips long before her children figured out the true value of those times together.
During their retirement years Gayle and Tom enjoyed traveling and working on their home.
Alzheimer’s disease gradually took away Gayle’s independence and eventually her daughter and son-in-law Kristi and Jim Christensen moved in with her to help keep her life as stable as possible. The rest of the family will always be grateful to Jim and Kristi for making that move and ensuring Gayle’s safety and comfort.
Even as the disease took away her communication skills Gayle never lost her ability to love or to laugh. It was also clear that her faith in God remained an important part of her life.
Gayle is survived by her daughters Joy (Stan) Johnson of Caldwell, Kristi (Jim) Christensen of Caldwell, Barbara (Don) Wixom of Nampa, one brother Roger (Sarah) Fretwell of Henderson, Nevada, eight grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren and numerous nephews and nieces. She was preceded in death by her husband, her parents and her sister and brother-in-law Barbara and Larry Ragains.
The family would like to thank grandchildren Emily Wixom, Kristianna McAlister, and Anthony and Monika Christensen for the extra care they provided for their grandmother during her disease, Bridges and special caregiver Debbie Rhodes, Signature Hospice including beloved niece Susan Ness, for the guidance and care needed to help Gayle during her last days, John at Crunch Fitness for helping Gayle to keep fit and fight the disease with humor and exercise, and to the wonderful staff at Covey Café who treated Gayle with dignity and provided a warm and fun environment for after-workout breakfast.
A service will be held at Dakan funeral chapel in Caldwell on March 6th at 2:00 PM. Burial will follow at Roswell Cemetery.