'A very blessed life': Lifelong Woodbury resident dies at 103
Evelyn Garbe, a lifelong resident of Woodbury known for her faith, died the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 28, at Woodbury Senior Living. She was 103.
Born Evelyn Marie Caroline Warnke on June 12, 1915, to some of the first farmers to settle in Woodbury, she grew up on Bailey Road. She had three brothers: Alvin, Arthur and Lloyd. The future Bailey Elementary School would be built on her family's original land.
Garbe was baptized at home by a pastor from Woodbury United Methodist Church, now Woodbury/Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church, where she remained a member for the entirety of her life. She met Paul E. Garbe at the church, where they eventually married. Evelyn and Paul raised four children, and at the time of his death they had been married for 46 years.
Garbe was very involved in her church and in her community, including in the local 4-H chapter and Salvation Army, her daughter Jean Brown said. She was also musical, playing the piano and later the organ.
Evelyn did most of the sewing on the farm, including making clothes for her children. Brown said the fun part was picking out the material, which involved going to the feed store. At the time, empty animal feed bags were often used to make clothing in farm communities. Looking at all the bags of chicken feed, Brown said her mother would ask her: "What do you want as a pattern for a skirt?"
Later in her life, Garbe moved to the Woodbury Senior Living campus, where she spent 28 years — 14 in an apartment and 14 in assisted living, Brown said. She became a volunteer organist for the campus chapel.
"She didn't play for us, she played for God," campus chaplain Basil Owen said. "You could just see it in her face."
Owen remembers the exact day he first met Garbe on Aug. 4, 2005, when he visited the campus for a worship service. She never missed a service if she could help it, sitting in the same spot in the front row every Thursday and Sunday.
"She was a woman of incredible faith," Owen said. "It was so genuine it oozed out of her and just naturally attracted people," bringing her many friends.
At the time of her death, Garbe was the oldest resident at the senior living campus. But with her sharp mind and quick wit, Owen said she didn't seem like it.
"You would have to do this double take like, 'Wow, that was good,'" he said of her quips.
Brown said her mother never thought of making it to 100 years old but was appreciative of every year. Garbe had a total of 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
If she were here now, Brown said, her statement likely would be: "It's been a very blessed life."
Services were Thursday, Aug. 30, at Woodbury/Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church, 7465 Steepleview Road.