A third-generation Troy farm girl went to greener fields on January 2. Zelda Thelma Strohm Fadness, 88, passed away, yet her stories live on within the hearts of her family. In February of 1932, she was born and her dad paid the doctor with a cured, smoked pig.
Farm life in the 30’s is something we can only imagine these days. Being the oldest, at the ripe age of 10, she was her dad’s farm hand. By tying blocks of wood on the old grain truck’s brake, gas and clutch pedals, she could drive the rig to the silos. When she wasn’t working the farm, she’d ride her favorite horse, a paint stallion she trained, to the old Miller School, sometimes being chased down the county road by the neighbor’s turkey. For clothes, Zelda’s mother used flour sacks printed with colorful patterns to make dresses. During the winter storms, snow would pile up on Zelda’s bed because of the cracks in the uninsulated wall planks. Those were some cold mornings!
Once, when driving down Kamiakin Street in Pullman on their way to a family Christmas in 1949, a locomotive came out from behind two buildings, but the track signal lights were frozen and didn’t work. Her dad tried to stomp on the gas, but the road was so slippery that the “cowcatcher” of the train lifted the tail end of the car pushing it 54’ onto the bridge. Zelda flew out of the jitney landing 28’ down into the Palouse River bed. Thankfully, nobody was badly hurt other than a few bumps and bruises.
There was a local bootlegging cave near her childhood home. On one occasion, police were chasing the bootleggers down the county road passing Zelda’s home. The snow berm was so high that all the family could see were men tossing bottles of moonshine over the berm so they wouldn’t get caught with the stash. As teetotalers, it was a sight to see.
Upon graduating from Troy High School in 1950, she moved to Moscow and worked at Fonk’s 5 & 10, a well-known local business at the time, where she met her husband, Henry (Hank) Fadness. He helped her break into her apartment when she forgot her key and they were later married in May 1951.
She began working as a bottle washer for the U of I Soil Sciences laboratory in 1959 and soon became a proud lab technician, retiring in 1983.
Zelda and Hank designed and built their family home with the help of family and friends. After reclaiming an ancient barn, they had the timbers for the frame. Then they removed the oak flooring from an old Moscow motel using it for their home’s flooring. The home continues to stand straight and true with carefully crafted cabinetry and desks.
While building their home, they also found time to enjoy the forests and rivers of Idaho. Horses, fishing tackle, tents and cooking pots would be loaded up for a week on the St. Joe or the Clearwater forests. Later, trail bikes replaced horses and campers replaced tents. Soon the trail bikes were loaded on the back of a motor home and Zelda and Hank took to the road with friends. In their retirement, they visited national parks across America with their trip to Alaska as the highlight of their many travels.
Zelda was a talented craftswoman. She tooled beautiful belts, purses, saddle bags, and a child’s saddle. She designed, built and upholstered furniture for the home. Zelda enjoyed crocheting afghans and sewing, canning and hunting. Joined by a few local Norwegian families making lutefisk and lefse followed by krumkake cookies were part of our holiday celebration.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Gaylord and Thelma Strohm and her husband Hank. She is survived by her sister Veona White, and three children: Rick (Chris) Fadness, Vickie Fadness and Judi Fadness (Tim Johnston); seven grandchildren: Shane, Ashley, Warren, Heather, Rachael, Marcus and Whitney; and six great grandchildren: Cameron, Clarissa, Allison, Lillian, Neil and Melanie.
To send flowers to Zelda's family, please visit our floral store.