Marilyn Black

Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Marilyn Black

Marilyn Black, 75, of Bruneau, died Friday, Nov. 28, 2008, in Mountain Home, surrounded by her children and grandchildren, after a 17-year battle with brain cancer.

A viewing will be held for family and friends from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4, at Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel, Mountain Home, with a rosary following at 6 p.m.

A funeral mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 5, at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Mountain Home. Graveside services will be conducted at noon at the Bruneau Cemetery with a community dinner to follow at the Bruneau American Legion Hall.

Marilyn Ann Nettleton was born to Jim and Maude Sothern Nettleton on March 26, 1933, in Estacada, Ore., where Jim was working at the time.

When Marilyn was two years old, the Nettletons returned to the Joyce Ranch on Sinker Creek (near Murphy) where Jim worked for many years with his family. Marilyn grew up horseback on the ranch, and was proud to hear people refer to her as "her Dad's right hand man."

She grew up on the Box T Ranch in the Owyhee Mountains and attended the Oreana grade school until the Nettletons bought a house in Nampa where Marilyn finished 7th and 8th grade at St. Paul's.

Her weekends and summers continued to be spent on the ranch that she loved.

She graduated from Nampa High School in 1951 and went on to Marylhurst College in Marylhurst, Ore.

Even as Marilyn made plans to attend college, her eye was on a Bruneau cowboy she had met at the Grand View Rodeo. Ace Black had made quite an impression on the Oreana beauty, and the couple was married Sept. 20, 1952, at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Nampa. They settled in Bruneau where Ace worked for his parents, Albert and Bonnie Black, on their ranch.

The Blacks began to build their family, and by the time they were married six years, they were blessed with five children--Terry, Tony, Patrick, Ann, and Martin.

The Blacks moved several times in their young marriage, living at the Castle Creek house in Oreana for a time and on to the Joyce Ranch on Sinker Creek.

Marilyn enjoyed motherhood and worked hard to help Ace provide for their growing family. Marilyn would make pies at night after her family was in bed, and then take them to sell at the Wagon Wheel Café in Murphy when she dropped Terry and Tony off at school in the mornings.

In 1962, Ace and Marilyn bought a big two-story house and some acreage in Bruneau and moved their family to what would become home for all of their children.

Shortly after their move, their young son, Patrick ,was killed in an auto accident near Bruneau. His death was the beginning of Marilyn's dream to help clean out the sagebrush and plant grass in the desert cemetery in Bruneau.

The Blacks continued to build their cattle herd and spent every summer in the Owyhee Mountains at the cabin on the Avery place. As time went on, they added sons Burke and Bret and their youngest daughter, Sandy. Marilyn didn't seem to mind hauling water from the creek, cooking on a wood stove or washing diapers endlessly on a scrub board in the creek. She mentioned many times that she considered it a "vacation" with no phone and plenty of time to read in the afternoons when the men were riding and the babies were napping.

Marilyn had the opportunity to show what she was made of when Ace was seriously injured in a car accident near Bruneau in 1968. During the months that Ace was hospitalized and home recovering from his injuries, Marilyn assumed the responsibilities of irrigating, feeding cows, and running the ranch with help from her older children, neighbors, family and friends.

As the older children grew up and moved on to their own lives, Ace and Marilyn decided to sell their ranch in the Owyhee Mountains.

Instead of life slowing down for Marilyn, she entered into a new chapter of community service. Many residents of Bruneau, as well as strangers passing through, benefited from the volunteer efforts of Marilyn.

She was considered instrumental in organizing the Bruneau Quick Response Unit in 1973 where she served as an EMT for 18 years.

Through the years, she also helped by checking blood pressures at community events, donating blood, and providing care for many elderly people who had no local family to care for them.

Marilyn was a charter member of the Owyhee County Cowbelle organization, serving as president and many other offices over the years. As a Cowbelle member, Marilyn promoted beef with samples and informational displays in supermarkets and at schools throughout the area. For their many years of service, Marilyn and Ace were rewarded as "Honorary Life Members" from the Owyhee Cattlemen's Association at their 2003 summer meeting in Silver City. She was also an active member of the Idaho Cattle Women and National Cattle Women, serving on many state and national committees. Marilyn was honored in 1991 as "Cattle Woman of the Year" at the State Cattlemen's Convention for her dedication to the beef industry.

"The love of children that Marilyn held extended beyond her own family to include an active role in the lives of many young people in her community," her family said. "Over the years, she took in many teens in need of a spot to land during a turbulent time in their young lives."

When her daughter expressed an interest in horse 4-H, Marilyn hauled a horse to Grand View for several years so Ann could participate before she decided to help start a horse club in Bruneau. Marilyn served as the leader of the Bruneau Sage Riders 4-H Horse Club for over 20 years, many times providing horses, saddles, tack and transportation for children who otherwise would not have been able to participate in the program. She was a member of the Owyhee County 4-H Horse Leaders for 22 years where she served as superintendent for 10 years and ran the green gate at the Owyhee County Fair for 17 years.

She also served as an advisor to the Rimrock Future Farmers of America, the Rimrock Rodeo Club and she helped with the Bruneau Boy Scouts of America.

One of Marilyn's biggest accomplishments for the children of the Bruneau Valley was the construction of the "new" Rimrock Junior-Senior High School. When the Bruneau and Grand View school districts consolidated in the late 1960s, Bruneau High School served as the new Rimrock Junior High School while Grand View High School became Rimrock High School. That change meant that the Grand View and Oreana students were bussed to Bruneau for junior high classes and the Bruneau students were bussed to Grand View for high school for many years. Marilyn and several other concerned mothers worked in their respective communities to pass a bond to build a new school for their children. The bond failed time and time again, but Marilyn did not weaken. She simply would not take "no" for an answer as she went back to knock on the same doors year after year to plead their case for the children. In 1975 the bond finally passed. Her son, Martin, was in the first graduating class in 1977 of the "new" Rimrock Junior-Senior High School.

While Marilyn was very diligent and dedicated to many clubs and organizations, her first love was to her Catholic faith and to St. Bridget's Catholic Church in Bruneau. Marilyn had always admired the fact that her mother had faithfully brought her children up in the Catholic faith, even though Maude herself was not raised Catholic. Knowing the impression that faith has on a child's life, Marilyn taught catechism for over 40 years.

She was a dedicated member of the St. Bridgett's Altar Society and through the church organized Christmas baskets for many years. Ace and Marilyn also were involved in Marriage Encounters and hosted several events at their cabin in the Owyhee Mountains.

During Idaho's Centennial celebration in 1990, Marilyn worked with her family to organize a three-day family reunion on the Joyce Ranch on Sinker Creek. At the reunion, the family was honored as a Centennial Ranch, which had been consistently in family hands since 1865. She also shared in the honor of being a member of an Idaho Pioneer Family--for her mother's side of the family (Carothers and Sothern) and for her father's side (Joyce and Nettleton).

Marilyn was very proud of the fact that she never had to have a social security number throughout her adult life, because she was never employed outside the home. That did not mean that she didn't work. The Blacks raised their seven children together, which was a full-time job in itself. In addition to her dedication to helping Ace on their ranch and cooking for a crew on a daily basis, Marilyn sewed many clothes for her children and mended jeans for her little boys and little tom-boy girls. As the grandchildren began to come along, Marilyn found a new joy in her life. Each grandchild had a special place in their "Grama's" heart, and on her wall of fame. Ace and Marilyn traveled extensively to rodeos, piano recitals, wrestling matches, track meets, band concerts, school plays, basketball, football, volleyball games, and "at least a million little league games," her family said.

The summer of 1991 brought permanent changes to Marilyn's life as she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her hectic schedule changed from family and community service to one revolving around radiation and doctor appointments. Her family and community rallied around Marilyn and paid tribute to her years of service.

The Bruneau Rodeo Association honored Marilyn as Grand Marshall of the Bruneau Rodeo for her efforts to solicit money to start the rodeo back up in the 1980s and the Bruneau EMTs nominated her as the Idaho Statesman's "Portrait of a Distinguished Citizen," among many other celebrations that were given to honor her community involvement.

But as far as the cancer went, Marilyn continued her tradition of "not taking no for an answer." She surprised doctors by defeating her grim medical prognosis. While the cancer took its toll on Marilyn's health, she continued to help out in ways that she could.

"Several people have commented over the years that they liked to work with Marilyn on the impossible projects, because they knew if they worked with her, the project would get done," her family said. "Marilyn always made the best of what she had to work with."

Ace and Marilyn celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on Sept. 20, 2002, with all of their children and their families and a standing-room only crowd at the Bruneau American Legion Hall.

By November of 2004, Marilyn's health had declined to the point that Ace could no longer care for her at home, and she enlarged her family to include the staff at The Cottages in Mountain Home. Shortly afterwards, Ace battled cancer himself and died in June of 2005. "Marilyn remained strong for her family, and with the love and care of her personal assistant, Amber Castillo, she continued to live a full and happy life at the Cottages," her family said.

Black was preceded in death by: her husband of almost 53 years, Asa Black; two sons, Patrick Paul and A. Lonnie Black, and a grandson, Colt J. Black.

Marilyn is survived by: her children, Terry and Letha Jayo Black of Bruneau, Tony and Charlene Hutton Black of Bruneau, Ann and David Rutan of South Mountain, Martin and Jennifer Maynard Black of Sanger, Texas, Burke and Gerri Ihli Black of Nampa, Bret and Kimber Bogue Black of San Luis Obispo, Calif., Sandy Black of Bruneau, and daughter-in-law, Elaine Hunt Black of Homedale; 19 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; her uncle, Bruce Sothern of Minneapolis and Murphy; brothers Matt and Rosemary Bailey Nettleton of The Dalles, Ore., Tim and Charlene Gardner Nettleton, Nick and Betty Ann Walker Nettleton; Ace's siblings, Joe and Margaret Fenwick Black of Indian Cove, Va., and Clarence Miller of Mountain Home, Bob and Linda Black of Nampa, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

Memorials may be given to the Bruneau QRU, PO Box 294, Bruneau, ID 83604; Bruneau Booster Club, c/o Ginny Roeder, 31013 State Highway 51, Bruneau, ID 83604; or flowers may be sent.