Aleta Belle Kresge was born March 3, 1926 to Harrison J. and Eva M. Finuf in Manhattan, Kansas, the youngest of three children. Her family (along with grandparents and many aunts, uncles, and cousins) lived in Manhattan through most of Mom’s junior year in high school. Mom idolized her brother and became quite a tom boy enjoying playing baseball and jumping out of the swing with him and his friends. Mom attended the Catholic school across the street from the family home. During her junior year, the entire family, including her now married brother and older sister, moved to Live Oak, California.
Mom graduated from high school in 1944 and went to work at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento to help with the war effort. She worked swing shift mostly rebuilding carburetors for P38 fighter bombers and electrical work on a number of different aircraft. At the base one day, she was admiring a B29. She said to her supervisor that she would love to look inside so he procured a high security clearance pass for her to crawl through the aircraft under the disguise of running wires for the electrician. Once off work, she and many of her friends headed into North Sacramento to roller skate into the wee hours of the morning.
She married Clayton Cash in 1946 and settled into a home in Fair Oaks, California. They had 3 children: Cathy, Jim, and Bill. Since Dad worked swing shift, responsibility for raising the kids fell on Mom. She took us camping and fishing, and played ball with us in the back yard. At that time she was also an avid ham radio operator. A telephone pole planted in the back yard topped with a rotary antenna, several long wire antennas and a kilowatt of power allowed her contact with people all over the world. During the early days of the Vietnam conflict Mom became part of the MARS network which provided an opportunity (through ham radio) for GI’s overseas to communicate directly with their loved ones.
Mom divorced Dad in 1960, and later married Merlin Kresge. The family moved to Chester, California, close the foot of Mt. Lassen, which was an ideal place for someone who loved the outdoors. She worked in the office of the local hospital as office clerk and book keeper. This marriage lasted 10 years. She then moved to Greenville, California where she also worked as a book keeper, trying to help a financially struggling hospital survive.
Both Jim and Bill had moved to Moscow to attend the University of Idaho. Both married and settled in to work and live in the area. When grand kids came into the picture, she could not stand being that far away from them. So she too moved to Moscow where she looked after them in their early years. For many years after the grand kids were in school, Mom worked at the Craft House where she learned how to paint and create all manner of crafty projects (I think all of us have at least one dream catcher that she created!). She finally retired and devoted her time to gardening and cheering on the grand kids at their many sporting events.
In her later years, she moved to Creekside Senior Living apartments. There she talked the management into allowing her to have a small garden plot outside her living room window and created a wonderful patch of flowers in front of her apartment. Mom loved to help people so she helped organize many potluck dinners, craft activities, and had a jigsaw puzzle under construction at the center for all to help with.
She is survived by her sons Bill Cash (Jorja) and Jim Cash (Misty); grandsons Jared Vance, Ryan Cash (Yvonne), Dusty Cash (Maura), Heath Cash (Marie), and Avery Cash(Ali); great grandsons Hayden, Kenzie, Nolan, Gabriel, Colby and great granddaughter Adelaide. She was preceded in death by her parents, sister and brother-in-law Emma and Hall Dillon, brother and sister-in law Alfred and Willie Finuf, and daughter Cathy Vance.
Mom will be missed dearly by her family and many friends. Mom wrote something in Misty’s (Jim’s wife) birthday card which sums up what Mom is all about: “Smile – life is much better with a smile.” At her request, there will be no funeral service.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Short’s Funeral Chapel of Moscow and condolences may be left at www.shortsfuneralchapel.com