Marcella McCraigie, 84, passed away Tuesday, Apr. 3, 2012, in Grand Coulee, with her children by her side, following a courageous 11-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Born March 8, 1928, in the Pahsimeroi Valley community of May, Idaho, to Edward Chisholm and Nina Belle (Smith) O’Neal, Marcella grew up on the ranch her Grandfather O’Neal had settled in 1870. From earliest childhood, Marcella reveled in ranch life especially the horses, which she began riding at around the age of three years. In a 1993 Nespelem article she said, “We rode horses everywhere. I rode horseback to school. That was fun-especially in the winter, when we’d pull sleds. We’d have races to get to school.” When it came to participating in horse events, teenage Marcella was not interested in some of the traditionally female activities like barrel racing, for breaking horses was more to her liking. In addition to her horse-woman-ship skills, Marcella did (at her mother’s insistence) become an accomplished pianist. In 1942 Marcella and her grandmother travelled by train to Hannibal, Mo., where she completed high school. Later Marcella continued her education at Central Washington State College (now CWU) in Ellensburg, during which time she met and became engaged to Felix McCraigie.
Marcella dropped out of college and on August 28, 1971, she married Felix in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, beginning their journey together which spanned almost 40 years, until Felix’s death in May of 2011. For eight years, Marcella worked as a Chapter 1 math tutor at Nespelem School, but Marcella found her great passion working as an archeology assistant and field excavator, travelling to digs throughout Washington and Oregon. Marcella said of archeology, “Every piece of dirt you pick up might be a golden treasure.” When a shoulder injury brought her archeology career to an end, Marcella was hired as city clerk for Nespelem, WA, where she enjoyed working until her retirement. As long as Marcella was able, she played piano for Nespelem’s Church on the Hill Baptist Church, read her Bible, enjoyed her family and friends and worked crossword puzzles. Marcella is predeceased by both her parents; husband: Felix McCraigie; brothers: Edward Chisholm O’Neal II, Charley William O’Neal, Larry Franklin O’Neal; one sister: Elanor Campbell O’Neal; two sons: Louis Struckman and Henry Struckman and son-in-law Ben M. Flores. Her legacy lives on through her daughters: Laura Dunkle, Myrna Struckman, Marci Flores (Ben), Rebekah Struckman, Nita O’Neal (Michael), Jeannette Kent (Malissa); son Larry Struckman; 23 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren; 1 great-great-grandchild and numerous nieces and nephews.
On the sunny morning of April 6, 2012, Marcella was laid to rest next to her dear Felix in St. Mary’s Mission Cemetery, Omak, with numerous friends and family in attendance to pay tribute and remember. Strate Funeral Home of Grand Coulee, Washington is honored to have assisted Marcella’s family.