Linda Charlene Mahaffey
July 30, 1945 ~ December 27, 2020
Linda Charlene Mahaffey (née Runes) passed away in the comfort of her home on December 27, 2020 at age 75. The cause of death was a late-discovered and fast-progressing cancer, with which she waged a blessedly brief battle.
Linda was born the youngest of three siblings on July 30, 1945 to Eva and Charles “Chuck” Runes of Beaverton, Oregon. Chuck died unexpectedly when Linda was only seven. Eva finished raising the family on her own, never remarrying. Although Linda felt her dad’s loss very deeply, she nonetheless enjoyed an active childhood. She particularly loved animals, especially horses and her faithful dog, Schmooie. Although Linda had no horse of her own as a girl, she had many adventures “borrowing” horses from neighbors, often sneaking into the pasture of one neighbor or another and clambering on bareback, uninvited. Her enthusiasm for horseback riding never waned.
She graduated from Sunset High in Beaverton with the class of 1962 and entered Oregon State the following fall. There she met fellow student Jay Mahaffey, whom she wed in 1964.
In 1968, the couple moved to Jay’s hometown of Wamic, Oregon to help Jay’s folks with their farm. Linda was very fond of Jay’s family, especially his mother Alva Mahaffey, from whom Linda learned many of the valuable skills from which her small family benefitted over her lifetime. Growing up in the suburbs, Linda had always been curious about farming. When as a very little girl she asked where milk came from, she was skeptical of the reply that cows make milk from grass, as her subsequent experiments in trying to squeeze milk from handfuls of her mom's lawn proved unfruitful. In Wamic, Jay bought her three calves which she raised into milk cows. One cow even won Grand Champion at the Wasco County Fair. In addition to hand-milking, she also raised hogs, chickens, and a garden. She truly relished their time in Wamic and the rural lifestyle and skills that she learned from Jay’s mom.
However, changing times eventually led Jay to look farther afield for the couple’s economic future, specifically to Southern Idaho. In 1977 they sold their place in Wamic, said goodbye to their friends and family in the close-knit community, and relocated to Buhl, Idaho where they opened Pacific States Equipment, a used farm equipment business which they ran for the next 37 years. In 1981 their only child, Lucy, was born.
Linda was very capable at balancing the duties of motherhood with her role in the business. One of her favorite recollections of early motherhood was bundling the new baby into her backpack-style carrier on a snowy morning and heading out on the loader tractor to unload equipment from an arriving semi truck. The kind Mamie Owenby, an elderly neighbor, spied mother and baby on the tractor in the snowy weather, and relieved Linda of her charge with the cry of “Give me that baby!”
Despite the demands of the business, Linda was an excellent gardener and homemaker. Her small family could always count on an ample supply of freshly homemade bread, home canned vegetables and fruit grown by Linda in her garden, orchard, and a freezer well stocked with the chickens she raised and butchered. She especially excelled at baking pies. After the couple closed Pacific States in 2016, Linda set about making a home for the two of them on their farm west of Balanced Rock, capably turning a long-neglected farmhouse into a clean, warm, and welcoming haven.
She always loved to help others and to be of service to those in need, maintaining friendships with a number of elderly neighbors who hadn’t any nearby family of their own. She was ever ready to lend a hand to any friend or neighbor suffering from illness.
Linda said that “busy hands are happy hands”. She left herself little spare time for leisure. However, in the late 1990’s, she did realize her childhood dream of owning a horse. From then on, she greatly enjoyed her horse, and a number of her favorite rides were undertaken in the company of her friend Jan Moore. She was also able to enjoy many trips to the Oregon coast with her daughter Lucy. Although we miss Linda deeply, we know her rest is well-earned, and one to which she had long looked forward with faith in Jesus.
She was preceded in death by both parents, and her sister, Carolyn Fry of Colorado.
She is survived by her husband, Jay Mahaffey of Castleford; her daughter, Lucy of Gooding; her brother, Gary Runes of the San Francisco Bay area; and several nieces and nephews.
The family would especially like to thank Linda’s very dear friends for their care and kindness to Linda during her illness: Donna Woods of Buhl; Jan Moore of Wendell; Richard Cooper of Gooding; and her cousin, Steve Norton of Portland. Special thanks are also due to Dawn of Horizon Home Health and Hospice.
A memorial service will be held in Linda’s memory at 11:00am, Thursday, January 14, 2021 at Farmer Funeral Chapel, 130 9th Ave North, Buhl.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on Linda’s memorial webpage at www.farmerfuneralchapel.com.
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