Pioneer Day: Thelma Haase

Yesterday was Pioneer Day, so I decided in celebration I wanted to post about some of the people I consider to be pioneers in my own family history. Pioneer Day is a celebration of LDS members about the day that Brigham Young entered the Salt Lake Valley. He entered on July 24, 1847 and so every year on this day we think about all pioneers, but especially the LDS pioneers, who crossed the plains of the United States, starting in 1847 until the completion of the railroad in 1869. Although none of these early pioneers are my relatives, I still have a deep appreciation for the sacrifices that they made the early years of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Although I am not related to the early LDS pioneers, I have had a number of individuals in my family who I believe are pioneers and have made possible so many of the wonderful blessings that I enjoy. One of these individuals in my great-grandma, Thelma Vernal McFarland Haase. She was born in 1921 in Oklahoma, just years before the start of the Great Depression. When Grandma was just a little girl, her family moved from Oklahoma to Northern California, where she met Willis Franklin Haase. They got married and had three little girls: Patsy (who died as an infant), Shirley (my grandma), and Peggy.

Grandma Thelma is a pioneer in my mind for several reasons. Although she did not make the trek west in the 1800s, she did move to California during the Great Depression, which was similar. She always worked hard to provide for her family and better their lives. I am very grateful for the opportunities that she provided for her girls. Grandma Thelma’s dad did not believe that girls should be educated, so Grandma never even graduated from high school. She encouraged her girls to get an education, who then encouraged their kids for more education. I am the first person in my family to earn a Master’s degree, and I am grateful for that opportunity and that Grandma started the change with her kids.

She loves Nascar and watches all the time, even though she is legally blind now.

Last week, Grandma Thelma fell and broke her hip. We are grateful that she had surgery immediately and  is feeling better. I love my grandma so much, and I am grateful that I have been able to know her. She is super funny, has weird sayings, and is a total Okie. I hope she is around for many more years and can continue to be an example to all of her posterity.


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