Longtime Montesano resident Geraldine Furnia passed away on January 25th, 2023. Gerry was born February 4, 1930 in Tacoma, Washington, to James Campbell Reid and Jennie (Babare) Reid. She attended school in Tacoma until her parents moved to a logging claim on the Newshkah River near Aberdeen in 1937.
She graduated from Weatherwax High School in 1947, from Grays Harbor College in 1949, and from Western Washington University in 1951. In July of that year she married Arthur M Furnia Jr. in Aberdeen at St. Mary’s Church, and taught school at Central Park until 1954, when her husband was transferred to Ilwaco, Washington. She taught 5th and 6th grade in Naselle in 1956. They lived on the Long Beach Peninsula until 1959, when a transfer returned the couple to Montesano.
Mrs. Furnia served as a member of the Montesano City Library board for ten years, and was a 4-H leader for the same period of time. She was a member of St. John’s Catholic Church, singing in the choir for many years, and teaching religion classes. During this time she also served as a substitute teacher in the Montesano School District.
Her beloved husband died in 1975, while their two daughters were students in Montesano. In 1977 she began teaching full time in the school district, first at the kindergarten level, and then third grade, retiring in 1994. She cared deeply for her students, and took great pleasure in hearing from them or reading about their success. Her third grade students compiled four history publications about Montesano. Sales from these books enabled four classes of third-graders to contribute $1,000 to the Chehalis Valley Historical Society. For her Master’s project at Saint Martin’s College she wrote a children’s book about Captain Robert Gray and the Chehalis Indians, which was published through a Bishop grant and distributed by the Seaport Society.
Gerry loved gardening and became a Master Gardener. Her home garden was featured on a City Library tour and a Master Gardener tour. She enjoyed bridge, playing in two groups in Montesano for over 40 years. She maintained a summer home on Marrowstone Island, and traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
She is survived by two daughters, Teresa Furnia of Seattle, and Catherine McConnachie of Shoreline, granddaughters Erin and Julia, brother Michael Reid of Duvall, and her sister Nancy Rambo of Arlington.
The family would like to thank all of her friends who helped to keep her active and involved as her mobility decreased, and especially her caregivers Cindy McAlpin and Kathleen Kiser for the wonderful care they provided that enabled Gerry to remain in her home.
Donations may be made to the Master Gardener Foundation of Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties or St. John’s Catholic Church in Montesano.