Rosella “Rose” “Rosie” Schreiner Modey Johnson, 94, died peacefully in her sleep, October 10, 2022, at Family Life Center care home in Nampa, Idaho.
Rose was born September 7, 1928, in Erie Township, Minnesota (Becker County near Detroit Lakes) to Henry and Catherine (Brixius) Schreiner. She was the youngest of eight children and attended a one-room country school through 8thgrade. Although she didn’t attend high school when she was young, she took classes later in life at Burns Union High School to complete her GED.
Growing up on a farm during the Great Depression, she learned to make do and work hard during the summers to prepare for the long Minnesota winters. She told stories of planting the family garden, storing potatoes in the root cellar, learning how to can and preserve food, and even being sent out to pick buckets of dandelions – without a speck of green – that her mother turned into wine. She was also put to task grating horseradish for sauce that they sold for 10 cents a jar at the local store. She said it was so powerful it made her eyes water. She never shied away from hard work and the work ethic she learned on the farm carried her through life.
Often Rosie would talk about what fun she had spending time at the Minnesota lakes. She enjoyed getting her feet wet to cool off and watching the loons skim across the water. After moving to Burns, she really missed the lakes, but found the local swimming pool to be a decent substitute where she got in the pool and made sure all her kids learned to swim.
Rose loved music and dancing. She picked up the guitar to practice with the Harney County Old Time Fiddlers and took piano lessons when she turned 50. She could yodel and was often heard singing while doing housework. Some of Rosie’s fondest memories are of the Minnesota dances at the Erie Dance Hall where the community would gather weekly to socialize and enjoy live music. It was at one of these dances that she caught the eye of Ed “Bubs” Modey. Rosie and Bubs were married on October 5, 1948, at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. She had just turned 20 and he was 23.
The couple started farming near Callaway, Minnesota on a rustic homestead. They milked cows, raised pigs, pumped water, and gathered eggs. They sold what they gleaned from the land to pay their way. By 1953, they had three daughters and another one on the way.
Their baby girl died after one day of life. A year later their baby boy died at birth. Shortly after, a tragic fire destroyed their barn with their pigs in it. The losses were a turning point. The young couple had friends that had moved to Oregon who told tales of a better life, so they decided to sell the farm and move West.
Much to the dismay of their family and friends, they packed the few belongings they had into an old flatbed truck and traveled to Burns, Oregon. Two of their young daughters sat on camp stools in the cab between their parents while a pregnant Rosie held another on her lap and Ed drove. They found a home to rent in Burns and Ed got a job working for Edward Hines Lumber Company. It was a new beginning in the land of no lakes. Then they lost another baby boy.
By 1960, medical science had discovered a solution for the issue that caused the babies to die. Between 1961 and 1967, Rosie and Bubs were blessed with three more daughters and a son. Work in the mill did not suit Ed, so he started cutting logs instead. In 1964, they moved the family to St. Anthony, Idaho for work that sounded promising, but wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, so they only lived there a year before returning to Burns. Then in the early 1970s they founded Modey Logging Company. Ed loved working outdoors and Rosie would rise early every day with him, to make breakfast, pack lunch and send him off while the children slept.
As a young mother she took sewing classes through the Harney County Extension service and became an expert seamstress. She always said you could make clothes for half the price of ready-made. That may not be true anymore, but it was between 1960 and 1990. She sewed everything from school clothes to cheerleading uniforms and was even hired to make bridesmaid dresses. She mended everything from work pants to stuffed animals and taught all her daughters to sew – even if some weren’t interested in learning. Rose entered many of her projects in the Harney County Fair and came away with several blue ribbons, including one in 2017 for her handmade quilt.
By 1968, Ed and Rose purchased land in Garland Acres and built a home. Rose sanded and finished all the woodwork while her youngest slept in an automated baby swing. The new home became the hub for family gatherings with children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was famous for serving up ice cream cones and root beer floats to her grandchildren along with plenty of hugs or for whipping up a batch of home-made pancakes served with butter and plenty of maple syrup along with a side of Ed’s elk sausage – made in Minnesota, of course.
She also enjoyed taking pictures and became the family archivist with the 8mm film camera. She captured all the family festivities and Ed even took the camera into the woods to film logging activities. The black and white television broke in 1967 and wasn’t replaced with a color model until 1980. During that time, home movie night with popcorn became welcome entertainment.
Rose shared stories of Christmas when she was a child, where prior to the holiday there weren’t any decorations or treats in the home. To her amazement, she and her siblings woke up Christmas morning to a fully decorated tree and beautifully iced sugar cookies. She never knew how her parents pulled off the magic in one night – but they did speak German to each other and while Rosie could mostly understand it, she did not learn to speak it, so maybe that’s how they managed the surprise.
When she had a family of her own, she made Christmas Eve extra special and turned the cherished cookie recipe into a legacy. She taught her kids how to bake, frost and decorate the sugar cookies in what has become a family tradition that continues to be passed to the next generation. She took pride picking out and decorating the tree and in wrapping beautiful gifts while saving the paper, boxes and bows for next year -- well before reduce, reuse, recycle was a thing.
After 40 years of marriage, Ed passed in 1989, and Rose became a bit of an entrepreneur. She purchased rental properties and became a landlady and sold products from Avon to Watkins. She also loved traveling to visit family in Minnesota, California, Idaho, and Vermont. It was during this time that she also went to Hawaii, Mexico, and Europe.
In 1999, she met Wayne Johnson and they were married in 2000. They became active members of the Harney County Senior Center, enjoying meals, playing Pinocle, putting puzzles together, and dancing there several times a week. He called her “Rosebud” and made her laugh until her eyes watered. They had 14 years together until he passed in 2014.
If you were to ask her how she’d like to be remembered, she’d probably say as a mother. She loved all her kids and grandkids so much. When she was young, she wanted to be a teacher and as a mother and a grandmother that is what she became. She taught by sharing her strength and leading by example. She was a good mom, and she will be missed.
Rose is survived by her children: Paulette (Fred) Fleming, Oroville, CA; Patricia (Walt) Sitz, Drewsey, OR; Sandi Daniel, Rohnert Park, CA; Barbara (Bobby Castaneda) Modey, Vancouver, WA; Susan (Rod) Robinson, Sisters, OR; Joel (Katie) Modey, Laramie, WY; and Yvonne (Lance) Okeson, Boise, ID; also 17 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents Catherine and Henry Schreiner, three brothers Arthur C. Schreiner, Cyril B. Schreiner, and Henry J. Schreiner, four sisters, Sr. Cecelia C. Schreiner, OSF, Lidwina M. Franitza, Sr. Mary Amy Schreiner, OSF, and Elizabeth T. Teiken. By her husband, Merrial Edgar “Ed” ”Bubs” Modey (1989), three infant children, Susan Mary Modey (1953), William Joseph Modey (1954), and John Peter Modey (1955), as well as her second husband, Wayne O. Johnson (2014).
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