Serving Whitman County since 1877

Ramah Virginia Archer

Oct. 23, 1925 - Dec. 19, 2023

Drop by the Archer house in Garfield most any weekend and you would likely find lots of cars in the driveway and a house full of either family or friends, often both. Ramah (aka Grandma Archer), the matriarch of the Archer, Day, and Casey families, sadly left this world just before Christmas. However, most would agree, she is in a better place now. For those who didn't know Ramah, you might recall a house at the edge of town with all of the seasonal light sculptures in the yard – perhaps a gift from her to those passing through. That would be just like her, a gesture of always giving to others!

Ramah often joked about traveling partway across the country in one of the first RVs ever built, a flatbed truck with plywood sides and roof. It even had fold down beds she would add. She and her older sister along with their parents set out from Browning, Miss., in search of work. It was during the Great Depression along with terrible dust storms in the Great Plains making farming nearly impossible. After seven eventful days on the road, Ramah arrived in Clarkston, Wash., to join relatives in the area. After a brief visit, it was on to Palouse, the final leg and destination. Once settled in Palouse her family began a new life. Throughout her youth she was active in school events, made many friends, worked at a young age to support her family, eventually taking on more jobs to help her widowed mother.

On the spur of the moment one Christmas, Ramah decided to accept an invitation from a girl friend to attend a dinner party for a mutual friend, followed by dancing at the old Ladow Grange Hall. It seemed her date was more interested in Ramah's friend as a dance partner, so there she sat. But, as luck would have it, along comes a young man by the name of Don Archer. Apparently, he wasn't much interested in dancing so suggested they go to town for beer, which she did! Ramah would downplay the fact that she was only sixteen! A relationship developed even with limited time together which even became worse when Don joined the Navy in the winter of 1943. Later in the year they decided to get married and did so on a brief leave from his ship in San Francisco. Don returned to his ship, his home for most of the next four years. Ramah returned to Palouse planning to finish high school. However, the school board denied her attendance because she was married. Not one to fight the system, Ramah began working, sometimes at several jobs at once. She wouldn't see her husband for another two years. By the time Don was finally discharged around the end of the war, Ramah had saved $4,000 to buy their first house in Garfield. She laughed when sharing that Don hadn't even seen it before she purchased the home. She emphasized that it was such a good deal, it even had a winter coal supply in the basement!

Grandma's life in Garfield was all she ever wanted with friends she loved who held similar values, people you could always count on in time of need. Usually she was aways positive, but there were a few times she would mention something about a "big shot" but not often. Garfield was the ideal small town to raise her three children where everyone knew one another, watched out for one another, often even left their doors unlocked and keys in the car. People took pride in the appearance of their homes and yard, the Archer's were no exception.

As the three children grew and became involved in more activities, her life was very busy with work and tending to the family. Fortunately, she had unlimited energy and was skilled at multi-tasking managing it all successfully. Even with such a full plate, she never shied away from helping a friend in need. Her home was a favorite for young and old, a genuine delight for her. Setting an extra plate was never a problem. It was amazing how many extra servings she could get out of a casserole that served five!

The Archer family's life took a tragic turn for the worse one summer. Her world changed from a blessed life filled with never ending bliss to unimaginable sorrow with the loss of their only son, Danny Lee. In 1970, a young man in full Army dress uniform came to the Archer home accompanying Danny's body from the Vietnam War. Coincidentally, the Casualty Escort, from Tennessee, was also named Danny. Tasked with such a difficult duty and far away from home, Grandma opened their home to him – he was now family. Later he shared that of the fifty some bodies he escorted home to their families, the Archers were the only ones that invited him into their home and treated him with such respect. That was Grandma!

Next to her five great-grandchildren, her four grandsons were definitely the light and love of her life! Perhaps even more special given the loss of her son. There wasn't anything she wouldn't do for them and took every opportunity to support and be with them. She used to say, "I treat them all the same." It took awhile to comprehend her point. Apparently, she felt a need to emphasize that her love for each grandson was equal and unique to each boy, offered without judgement and unconditionally. In turn, each grandson developed their own individual relationship with her.

As the five great-grandchildren came into the family, Grandma's enthusiasm to maintain a close relationship with them all likely surpassed that of her time with the grandsons. Proximity to them became a challenge, but not so much of an obstacle that it prevented her from seeing them. If necessary, she would arrange a ride with a friend headed her way or jump on a Greyhound Bus to travel across the state for a visit. At times, much to the concern of her family for fear she would get off at the wrong location.

Grandma's final years didn't turn out the way she would have undoubtedly liked as a progressive form of dementia robbed her of her home, family, friends, and beloved Garfield. Hopefully, somewhere in her mind the memories of all that was good broke through the fog giving her some peace. She was unique in so many ways, perhaps one of a kind, a joy to know and love. Her journey ended in this life but carries on in life hereafter. How wonderful she must feel reunited with Grandpa Archer and Danny Lee as well as joining all those who have gone before her. She was a gift from God!

A future service is being planned for the spring or summer. On-line guest book is at

Corbeill Funeral Home in Colfax is caring for the family.


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