Longtime resident on the Palouse, Myrtle Jeanette Fleener Talbott, passed away Thursday, June 3, 2021, at the age of 103.
Jeanette was the eldest child of Samuel Ansel Fleener and Dora Otter Fleener. She was born in Moscow on Nov. 11, 1917, at her grandparents’ home on Eighth Street. She was exactly a year old when World War I armistice was signed.
She was raised on the family farm in Whitman County, between Estes and Fallon, where she learned to be helpful by gathering eggs, picking raspberries, hoeing the garden, washing the cream separator, cleaning the chicken house, canning fruit, cooking for harvest crews and caring for younger brothers and sisters.
She attended Collins country school, No. 42, through the eighth grade, graduating in 1931. She then attended Moscow High School, staying with her grandparents, John and Myrtle Otter, and going home on weekends on the Spokane and Inland Empire electric train to Ayers station located about a mile from the family farm. She graduated from Moscow High School in 1935.
Jeanette attended the University of Idaho for three years before marrying John Westall Talbott on June 12, 1938, in a garden wedding at the home of his parents in Moscow. They began married life in a tent at a logging camp near Bovill where John was working in the woods.
Growing up in the Depression years, Jeanette learned not to waste anything. She strove to use every wormy apple and fallen pear. She canned and dried more fruit than the family could eat. She darned socks and mended seams and patched jeans. During World War II, the family lived in Spokane but returned to Moscow after the war ended.
Jeanette was a stay-at-home mom for many years, always there when her kids returned from school. After her children were grown, she returned to the University of Idaho for library courses and worked at the Moscow-Latah County Library as a book mender and cataloguer, “a satisfying job with people I liked.” From an early age, Jeanette loved books. In later years, she thoroughly enjoyed her book club, her poetry group, and her two writing groups.
The Talbott home was a gathering spot for family reunions, weddings, graduation parties, cider making, birthdays and holidays. Jeanette shared her home with University of Idaho students for over 40 years. They rented upstairs bedrooms and shared the kitchen, a rewarding experience for all parties. She continued to live in her own home until she turned 100.
Jeanette made lifelong friends and kept in touch through her letter writing with old classmates, former neighbors, and distant relatives. In her words, “I was the oldest of seven, mother of five and wife of one. Widowed since 1985, I fill my days with gardening, reading, letter writing, volunteering, genealogy, and some traveling.”
Organizations in which she was involved include Latah County Historical Society, Friends of the Library, League of Women Voters, Campfire Girls, Estes Club and Friendly Neighbors Senior Citizens. She was a recipient of the Idaho State Historical Society’s Esto Perpetua Award in 2016. Her church affiliations were first with the Methodist Church as she was growing up, then with the Layman’s Home Missionary Movement, and finally with The United Church of Moscow.
Jeanette is survived by daughter and son-in-law Linda and Ken Steigers; sons and daughters-in-law Erin and Toni Talbott, and Steven and Chris Talbott; daughter-in-law Karen Davis; sister Glenda Hawley; brother Loyal Fleener (Lily); brother-in-law George Scoggin (Louise); seven grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. She also leaves behind many cherished cousins, nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, her son David Talbott and daughter Maida Talbott, brothers John Fleener and Sam Fleener, sisters Bonnie French and Loree Scoggin, and many loved brothers-in-law and sisters-in law on both the Fleener and Talbott sides.
The family wishes to thank Good Samaritan Society in Moscow for their loving care of Jeanette in her last three years. The burial of ashes will be at the Moscow Cemetery in a private family service. A memorial service will be held at a later date, with a notice posted in this paper. Memorial donations may be made to the Moscow Public Library, Latah County Historical Society, 1912 Center or to the donor’s choice. As a final tribute, write a letter to someone you have known for a long time.