Josephine (Jo) Garst was a fourth generation Oregonian born to Martin Joseph Hermens and Ida Frances Wagner on March 21, 1921, at home, in rural Yamhill County, Oregon. She was the oldest girl, and the third oldest child of ten children. The family moved into the town of Yamhill and she completed her eighth grade in their one-room school. Jo was a star student in the 38 member graduating Yamhill High School class of 1940. For two years after graduation, she worked in a photography studio in McMinnville. Here she met Sam Garst, the brother of the studio owner, who just happened to work at the glove factory next door.
Josephine got a civilian job in support of World War II at a Spokane army air depot. Sam and she moved to Portland after the war and were married in 1945. Later the next year, the first of their children was born with three more to follow, as the family moved back to McMinnville and then finally to Eugene. In the early family years, Jo remained strong to her agricultural roots, taking the young kids to the fields working to harvest local fruits and vegetables. Jo had a great green thumb and was known for her beautiful flowers (roses and dahlias were a specialty) and sharing her bulbs brightened the entire neighborhood. She was the consummate homemaker: managing the family budget, paying bills, shopping, cooking, cleaning and she was an excellent seamstress.
She was a warm and friendly outgoing person. Active in community work through her life-long involvement and support of the Catholic Church and volunteer work at the Moose Lodge. Her family was her life, and the eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren brought great joy and meaning. She was the ultimate babysitter, soccer mom, school coach, cookie and cake baker, late night advisor, and even the caregiver and home provider for some, as she lived alone and managed her household for 37 years after Sam died.
She was still driving her car at 100 years old, but did not want to renew her license, so she donated it to charity. Her mind was incredibly sharp and her sense of humor like-wise. When asked her secret to living so long, she said, “good luck, good sense, and a good attitude, but be warned – getting old is not for sissies!” Jo is survived by her sisters Frances Collier and Martha Bixby of McMinnville, a brother Lewis Hermens in Tucson, AZ and her adult children (all in Oregon) Ron Garst (Karen) in Silverton, Sue Schaffer (John) in Eugene, Nancy Smith (Derrick) in Coburg and Fred Garst (Velda) in Veneta.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that remembrances be made to Food for Lane County or the Eugene Mission. The family thanks Cascade Health for their hospice assistance in the care of Jo during her final days. Arrangements entrusted to Musgrove Family Mortuary. Please access the obituary and you are invited to sign the guestbook at musgroves.com.