Mom wrote their story in 2014 in order to share their history with family and family to come.
I’m excited to now share their story with YOU!
In The Ziemke Story you will learn of their Christian Heritage, their early years, ministry, trying times, family, where they’ve been, and how they ended up where they are today!
We will endeavor to share a little bit of The Ziemke Story each week as Mom wrote it to her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and beyond.
1988 and 1989
Bits and pieces from my Journal January 12, 1988:
Within the next few years, probably all our children will marry. Now is the time for them to acquire the training for an occupation of their choice.
Brenda is undecided about her job. They want her to become involved in sales and go on commission eventually. She doesn’t think she’ll enjoy it and, at the same time, feels maybe she could make more money that way. I sense she is getting weary of the pressure of the job. She needs to watch out for burn-out.
Brad is making good money but at a menial labor job that he would not want to continue at for many years. He has a good business head and mind for computers and needs a little more training in one of these fields to advance. He is also good with interpersonal relationships. Perhaps the company he is with would advance him and eventually he could become an executive there. But, even so, more education would benefit.
Bridget has aspirations to go to an Art school where they turn out Actors and Actresses. It is expensive and the field is hard to break into. She needs something to fall back on at least and a scholarship if she is to afford the school.
It seems we need to concentrate on being available to our kids during these years – encourage etc, and be there when they need help to plan a wedding.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom sent from Bend, OR, January 23, 1988:
Bridget is getting ready to go to work 12 – 6 p.m. today.
Brenda’s birthday is coming up and I don’t think we’ll get to see her so I’m getting a box ready to send. She is working on a presentation to her boss in asking for a raise. So far she has several points;
1. A lady who works in a similar office but just does one part of all that Brenda does makes 3400/month.
2. Brenda saved the company $173,000 in 1987 by investigating and changing shipping companies.
3. The University of WA estimated $1,900/month would be the starting salary for her position and she’s been there 4 to 5 years.
4. The bosses had mentioned profit sharing and haven’t done it yet.
5. She works overtime at no extra pay, etc. etc.
They want her to go on commission as the new company gets underway. She wants salary plus commission. I think it upsets her that Brad is already making more than her and he is so new. He has been promoted and making over $11.00/hour. It isn’t what he would want to do all his life, but it is good money. He is thinking of 5 years, unless it would open to something executive later.
Bits and pieces from my Journal April 3, 1988:
This morning I was thinking how I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to get in to leadership again, even though I don’t want to hold Gene back. My brain just begins to spin when I think of the possibility of it, or even of having company for dinner. I don’t think I enjoy that anymore. Even though I worked on my Sunday dinner Saturday and had Lasagna and strawberry pie, it would have been a lot more work and hassle to have served it to company today, fix an extra salad, have more dishes, etc., than to just have it ourselves.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom April 5, 1988 from Bend:
Funny how different areas of the country with their varied climates alter the way we live and even keep house. Ha. Because it is so dry here, it is rather dusty and the furniture needs dusting more often. (I didn’t say it gets it).
In Florida, all dry goods had to be kept tightly sealed or they attract bugs and quickly go soggy and stale from the humidity. In Bend, it’s quite the opposite. Anything with moisture content must be tightly sealed or it will dry out rapidly.
Brenda’s boyfriend, Brett, has been home from the Navy for 10 days so they’ve enjoyed some good times together. They are so in love. I have to say we love him too. His ship is scheduled to go to Honduras, just to sort of show themselves and then leave, so they say. Pray that it won’t be more than that and God will protect.
Brad just called and reported that he is going on days for training in grading of the finished lumber. Once he is trained, he’ll go back on the night shift, which he doesn’t seem to mind and it does pay a little more.
Bridget is still working and wants to save money for a nice bicycle. Biking is really in here – a thing she pooh-poohed when we first came. A favorite pastime is playing Pictionary with friends.
We remember well the day in 1988 when Brenda and Brett drove from Puyallup to Bend, Oregon, with a purpose. Brett was coming to ask for Brenda’s hand in marriage. We were apprehensive about it because Brett had been raised in a Catholic family, so different from our Pentecostal faith. He was very respectful in asking and Gene pelted him with questions. It finally got down to Brett’s statement that Brenda’s church was more important to her than his was to him. Gene finally said yes. We left the room where they were sitting and when we came back in, they were both asleep – heads leaning back on the couch; exhausted and probably very much relieved. He was a Navy guy and had to go to sea again. In October, he called her from Israel saying it was the first day he’d been on land in 45 days.
Gene was tired of trying to sell copiers and had an opportunity to sell some kind of water pump equipment for recreational vehicles. We hesitated over that decision quite a while and finally decided to go for it, even though it meant he would be traveling alone from April 1 until Bridget graduated. The “Swan” company bought a travel trailer and we helped stock it and get it ready to go on the road. We bought a pick-up in Portland to pull it with.
On the way back to Bend, it was snowing and icy in the mountains. When we began sliding, we found a turn-off area where we disconnected the trailer and left it. The next day, Brother Dillon and Gene went back to get it when the weather was better. Gene was to pull the trailer down through Oregon and California to show the equipment at RV dealerships and make sales.
Due to delays in getting the trailer ready, he didn’t leave until April 18. It turned out to be very stressful for him to drive through the mountains and into cities in great rain, snow storms, and high winds. He said “If I had some manual labor job to come home to, I’d come home tomorrow”. I felt so bad for him. He gave it a few more days but after 18 stops and 8 days on the road he came home. His boss understood and agreed it was probably best to get the product known in other ways.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom April 30, 1988 from Bend:
He lasted one week on the road. The dealers liked the product but were afraid to put any money out for a relatively unknown company. Swan offered him a job organizing and overseeing productions. Also 3M offered him a job in Medford. He declined both, thinking that maybe God is nudging him to get back into the ministry. He is going to Canada next week to preach for Bro Bridges. We don’t know what is next.
Gene preached at a few Idaho churches in the next few weeks, going back and forth from Bend to Idaho three times.
Bridget had a nice graduation on June 10, 1988. Brenda, Brad, Mom Ziemke, Beccy Lindquester, and the Zayemopoulas’s came down from Puyallup for it. We had a little gathering at our house and then she went to the graduates’ all night lock in party at Central Oregon Athletic club. She won several prizes.
After living in Bend for a year, we felt it was time to go back to Washington. Bridget had graduated high school. Brenda and Brad were both contemplating marriage. Our house in Puyallup hadn’t sold and the renters were not keeping it up well, nor current with rent payments. So that I wouldn’t see it in a mess, some of our friends, who were former church members, helped get the house back in shape. By the time I got there, it had been totally repainted inside and out and re-carpeted. We moved in again and lived there until it sold a year later.
Andy and Ida had come to Bend to help us pack and, with other friends, helped us unpack in Puyallup. Several came back the next couple of days to help. They worked with Gene while I painted and organized cabinets in the kitchen, bath, and laundry room.
When we first got back, it seemed overwhelming to be in that house again. In fact, as we were getting settled, I sank to the floor and couldn’t stand up again. I crawled to the bedroom and laid down awhile and eventually got my equilibrium back. I told Gene it seemed there were so many things to think of, people to think of, and decisions to make; my mind just closed down like a computer on overload.
We started attending Word of Truth, later renamed New Heart Worship Center, in Federal Way where Joe Parker was Pastor. For a long while, we felt like “wounded warriors” just needing a time to heal. Even when we were back among friends and in our home church in Federal Way, I declined to lay my hands on anyone to pray for them, feeling like my weakness was sapping their strength rather than helping them at all.
Bridget found employment at Barbee where Brenda worked and worked there for two or three years. Following that, she worked for Brenda and Brett’s business, Java Java, as a Barista the next few years.
Gene was offered a job at our friends’, the Brickles, AMT Transmission Shop and worked there as a service writer for two years. It was a long commute to North Seattle. I applied for a job with the State. While waiting and believing I would get it, I worked for six weeks drawing faces on pumpkins prior to Halloween. I also worked for House of Lloyd having home parties to sell gift items. I made $1000 in the few weeks I worked at that but was chagrined that it cost me $100 in taxes when we had them done in the spring. The pumpkin job was both fun and taxing. I developed arthritis in my thumbs, which I now call my “pumpkin thumbs”. Those of us who drew faces had to keep up with three to five painters who would then fill in the faces with paint. We had to work fast, lifting a pumpkin from a bin and holding it steady by its stem with one hand while drawing with the other. For the next few fall seasons, I painted a few at home just for fun and gave them to friends and family.
In September our house was ready to put on the market again. Brenda moved home and we had her furniture in the living room and formal dining and guest room. It helped fill up the house and looked nice.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom September 25, 1988 from Puyallup:
The three kids are still working at the same place, Barbee Mill. Brett is still in the Mediterranean. She hears from him only every 2 or 3 weeks and then might get 6 or 8 letters on the same day.
I am working temporarily at the pumpkin farm, drawing faces on pumpkins. I have gotten up to 60 an hour but there are fast artists doing twice that amount. It’s fun in a way but very tiring. I get a sore thumb on my left hand from picking up the pumpkins and holding them in position with the stem while I draw. I am taking state tests and trust I will get a job there.
My job with the State finally came through with a begin date of October 18, 1988. I was 46. Starting pay was $1296 per month – better than Oregon.
I worked for DSHS, Division of Developmental Disabilities, for 19 years. Most of that time I was contract manager. The respite contracts were with individual providers who would care for clients and/or give the parent or primary caregiver a break. I contracted with nursing companies, professional counselors, and companies to build ramps, etc. as well. It started with just a couple of file cabinet drawers full of contracts and ended up with about 10 full cabinets. I had many varied duties along with contract managing until that became overwhelming. I managed cubicle wall orders and moves, ordered and stocked office supplies, distributed payroll checks and on and on. When the office moved from one building to another, I was the main organizer of that as well. I was finally able to hire a part time helper. Bridget helped for several weeks as a temp in 2000 and again in 2001. It was fun having her to work with and she did an excellent job. I had other short-term helpers and finally got a somewhat permanent half-time assistant.
I was given awards as “Employee of the Year” twice, once in 1992 and again in 2004-5. Besides letters and certificates, I was given a crystal clock, a crystal carafe and glass and, on one occasion, a lighthouse clock. I retired at age 65, on February 28, 2007, but went back on a temporary basis for a few weeks a couple of times. With the retirement gift of about $100.00 from the DDD staff, I purchased new silk plaid curtains for our family room.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom, sent from Puyallup December 13, 1988:
Sometimes Bridget reminds me a lot of you, Mom. Her eyes are like yours, she’s thrifty with money, and she often comes out with wise statements that lets us know she has a good understanding of life. She desires to be just a common “real person” without having to put on a front of being “somebody” or even always being dressed for show. She is artistic and probably got some of that from you too. Another kind of unique thing is that she is “into” black and white in decorating her room and has decided she likes cows – the black and white kind. Ha.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom February 4, 1989 from Puyallup:
Brett arrived Thursday night. He and Brenda had been apart for seven months and I think they both had felt a little cold feet – wondering if they were doing the right thing in planning marriage. Now that they are together again, everything is fine as they thought it might be. He goes back to Virginia about the 12th. The Navy has a right to extend their time nine days beyond enlistment in order to fill their positions, etc. Their ship didn’t pass some inspections and his replacement is coming from Hawaii, so until these two things are accomplished, he’ll have to stay longer than February 28. He thinks by April 1 or before, he’ll be out. But he won’t have to go on any more cruises.
Bridget bought a CRX. It’s an ’85 and automatic. She has the mustang for sale now and hopes to get the CRX paid for in six months. It’s white with a blue interior.
Brenda and Brett
Brenda set about planning the wedding for June 24, 1989. We were able to have it in the church we had resigned, at 144th and Meridian (Meridian Christian Ministries). Don Deck, a favorite evangelist over the years, was willing to come from Indiana to perform the ceremony. The day of the ceremony, Brad’s girlfriend, Josette, was busy styling the hair of each bridesmaid in the upstairs “Brides room”. Bridget was Maid of Honor and Brad was one of the Groomsmen. Besides all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen, Amber, Annah, and Beccy were special attendants to the Bride.
The dresses we had custom-made at a local bridal shop were black with small white polka dots. Uncle Jeff did the flowers including rose arrangements at the end of each aisle. Gene built round white platforms for the attendants to stand on, so that the black dresses and Tux showed up nicely against the white. Music was provided by a string quartet.
Uncle Joe, with help from several of our friends, catered the food for the reception from the church kitchen. I had made black serving aprons for them and Ladonna stitched their names on with her specialty machine. It was all very nice.
Brenda continued working at Barbee Mill. Brett worked for Curtis and Sons selling emergency equipment right out of the Navy and then sold Real Estate prior to developing the Java! Java! Coffee business. Java! Java! Started in 1991 with a couple of Espresso Carts in front of stores and grew from there. Brett became full time with the business in 1994. Brenda continued with Barbee, plus helping with Java !Java! until 1996, when she became full time with the business as well. In 2011, they sold their three drive-through espresso stands and continued to roast and wholesale coffee, as well as some retailing.
Brenda and Brett have been very active in the Maple Valley community. Brett with the Rotary Club and Brenda with the food bank. Both donate time and finance to local charities. They have been pictured and/or mentioned many times in the local newspaper for those efforts. Brett was baptized in the Cedar River in May of 2002. It was our privilege to witness the event.
Brad and Josette
Six weeks later, Brad and Josette were married in the same church. Her Dad had rented huge pillars as décor on the platform. That wedding was also beautiful. Gene performed the ceremony. A major component of the reception was an ice cream cake which, of course, took special handling at the last minute on a warm August day. They were married on my parent’s 50th anniversary, August 6. 1989. We had rehearsal August 5 at 9 a.m. and then Mom and Dad’s Anniversary celebration at 1:30 that day. Sadly, Brad and Josette’s marriage came to an end but only after it provided us with four lovely grandchildren.
Brad became the farmer he innocently prophesied he would be at age two. He loved to see things grow and has been very successful in growing and selling produce from orchards and row crops. For several years, he was a major focus of attention at the local Puyallup farmers market, hawking his wares. He orchestrated October events at his Buckley farm where folks could buy pumpkins and produce, peruse a corn maze, take hay and/or monster truck rides, endure a haunted barn, enjoy a petting zoo, an apple sling-shot, and more. He also sold Christmas trees each year.
In 2012, Brad rented the Buckley farm and produce stand to others and relocated to Zillah. He has orchards in Zillah and enjoyed a little more relaxed life, although still very busy in produce season. He loves entertaining his relatives and friends who come to visit the farm. He continues to make upgrades on the property, add buildings, coolers, etc. for more efficiently running the business. He tears out old or unsuccessful trees and plants new. Brad loves cars and has collected a few specialty models.
Our Firgrove Estates house sold in July. Within a six week period we’d had two weddings, a 50th anniversary celebration for Mom and Dad, and moved from our house in Firgrove Estates to a Duplex in Edgewood. Whew! It was a very busy time, not to mention the wedding showers and all of the planning details for the events while keeping up with our jobs.
Our rented duplex was a couple blocks behind the Walgreens corner on 106th Avenue Court E, Edgewood. Bridget lived with us and had her own bedroom and bathroom. She was still working with Brenda at Barbee Mill. A year later, when she turned 21, we started charging her rent, $200 per month. She came to the conclusion that if she was paying rent, she might as well have her own place. So, in January 1992, she bought a duplex at 2309 and 2311 111th Ave E in Edgewood. She rented out one side and lived in the other. Eventually, Uncle Jeff became her renter.
Funny thing; when she was living with us, she wanted the heat turned up high in her room. When she got her own place, she turned the heat off and just used the wood stove to save money. It was a good experience for her – being on her own and paying the bills. She worked for Brenda and Brett in the Espresso business.