Hunting for Bittersweet
Five Short Stories from the Life of
Delores “Dee” Elaine Barnhart Gore
1942 - 2018
The Farm - Rock Port, MO
Delores “Dee” was born and raised by her parents, Orville and Ruby with brother A.J. on a 150 acre farm, in Northwest Missouri just 15 miles south of Iowa and 5 miles east of the Nebraska border, near the Missouri River. The farm was situated at the mouth of a hollow, flanked by two hills perfect for grazing cattle and horses and divided by a clear flowing creek. The bottom land, fertile from the Missouri River floodplain, was perfect for growing corn, wheat and soybeans. The idyllic setting, with a rich variety of hardwoods including oak, maple, ash and walnut, was completed by a classic barn, root cellar, outbuildings and a windmill.
It was in this setting that Dee learned to raise cattle for the local 4-H Club and won several first place ribbons at the local fair. She also learned to garden and cook. It was not uncommon to feed 14 men for the noon farm ‘dinner’, returning them to the fields filled with fried chicken, corn, biscuits and gravy, and then start work on ‘supper’, which was the evening meal.
Dee attended local schools and graduated from Rock Port High. She sang in the school choir, played in the band and learned to play the piano. In high school, Dee dated James “Jay” Gore, whom she would marry in 1961. After attending Northwest Missouri College for a year, Dee and Jay moved to Brookings, South Dakota. In Brookings, Dee and Jay’s first and only son, Brooklin, was born in 1962. From Brookings, they moved to Orono, Maine where Dee raised Brooklin as Jay completed his Masters degree.
The Tree - Ashland City, TN
Dee moved from Maine to Ashland City, about 25 miles north of Nashville in 1966 where Jay took a job. She started a successful music program in the local elementary school, impressing parents with the spring-time programs. She also worked part-time for State Farm Insurance. Summer afternoons were spent with Brooklin at the local country club, swimming at the pool and playing tennis, which would become one of Dee’s lifelong sports. She also became active with the local Methodist Church, singing in the choir. Trips to Nashville were common - where country greats like Earl Scruggs, Buck Owens and, of course, Dolly Parton - were heard live at the Grand Ole Opry. Johnny Cash’s home could be spotted during boating trips on Old Hickory Reservoir.
Dee hosted, or more accurately tolerated, the many birds that Jay brought home from work, including ducks, geese, a red tail hawk, a kestrel and two crows. These were in addition to other house pets, including siamese cats, black labs, snakes and an iguana that lived in the upstairs bathtub. Little Brooklin played for hours in the backyard with these pets and also loved climbing trees. One day after school, while playing in one such sycamore tree, Brooklin slipped and fell. Fortunately, a foot caught in a tree branch, leaving him dangling upside down and screaming like crazy! His Mom - Dee - hearing these screams, flew out the back door of the house, crossed the yard in seconds, leaped up in the tree in a single bound, and rescued Brooklin from a certain slow death from hanging upside down. At least, that’s what he thought! From that day forward, Dee was not just a Mom, but a superhero!
The Geese - Troy, IL
In 1972, the family moved once again to Troy, Illinois, about 20 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri. It was in Troy that Dee started emerging as a leader of women and others! Active in the local Methodist Church as choir director, Dee convinced the choir to learn and perform the songs from Jesus Christ Superstar, a somewhat controversial musical at the time. While the performance was a tour de force, especially for a small voluntary choir, apparently not everyone in the community was impressed! But Dee knew that one must break a few eggs in order to make an omelette!
Dee also worked as a secretary in the elementary school where she met one of her best friends: Marj, with whom she shared many zany adventures! They also supported efforts to improve school funding and worked tirelessly to develop the practically non-existent city library. Today, the The Tri Township Library is a beautiful modern building serving Troy, St.Jacob and Marine. It is used for weekly storytelling programs and other community activities.
The menagerie Dee hosted in Tennessee followed her and expanded in Troy! Not content to just incubate duck and goose chicks, somehow, the family ended up with two adult Canada geese that generally stayed in the small fenced yard. However, geese do poop quite a lot and this became an issue for Dee. One sunny Sunday, dressed in her finest on the way to church, Dee stepped in several piles of Goose poo on the way to the car in the driveway. She turned around and yelled “Jay! It’s either me or the geese!!!”. The geese were gone the next weekend and the overall size of the menagerie was reduced.
November 1978 would mark Dee’s final, big geographical, move. This time to Boise, Idaho. Thanksgiving dinner that year was served at a truck stop in Laramie, Wyoming on the drive from Troy to Boise. The menagerie was down to a dog and a cat. When son Brooklin graduated from high school and was off to college two years later, Dee and Jay divorced, but remained good friends and attended many happy family events together.
The Library - Boise, ID
In Boise, Dee began to grow her career, volunteerism and life’s activities. On an adventure with her best friend Jennifer Ralston Blair, she met the man who would become her husband and partner for life. In an Idaho City cowboy bar called Diamond Lil’s, she met horseman, plumber, handyman and outdoor enthusiast Richard “Dick” Peterson. Dee, Dick, Jennifer (and her new love Mike) became a tight foursome, boating, camping and skiing all around the Pacific Northwest, especially in Idaho and Oregon. A cabin was finished, and another built, near the family home of her dear friend, Eileen - where good times continued for years. Dee also shared many adventures with her family including Christmas in Hawaii, a trip to France and Italy, visits to son and daughter-in-law in Wisconsin, Berkeley, the California Coast and Wine Country, an Alaskan Cruise, a great niece’s wedding in the midwest with her beloved granddaughter Logan, plus the Oregon Coast and her grandson Jordan’s wedding in Mexico.
Dee built a successful career, starting in real estate and then moving to finance. She also doubled down on her volunteer activities. Dee was a founding member of the Live Poet’s Society, hosted at the Log Cabin Literary Center. Over 20 years with the Live Poet’s, Dee honed her poetry skills and participated in numerous poetry readings which culminated in the publication of her own book, Hunting for Bittersweet, in 2000. She also spent many wonderful hours with her Bridge Group and shared time with Dick and their dear Supperclub friends. Dee’s volunteer work in Boise reached a pinnacle when she received the 2018 Joyce Stein Award given by the Women’s and Children’s alliance. Her biography from that award follows.
Dee Gore has devoted her life to being a trailblazer for women and children. She served as president of the YWCA board from 1988–1991. In the 1980s, she received her securities license in a male-dominated industry and rose to manage the operations of the Boise branch of Piper Jaffray, retiring as a vice president in 2006. She empowered women to pursue and become the best versions of themselves. Dee’s mentorship of these and countless other women often led them on the life-changing path of mentoring others.
Dee accomplished vital work at the Garden City Library as a member and chair of the Library Foundation and was at the forefront of creating and keeping hundreds of programs funded that focus on lifelong learning for women and their children. Dee’s leadership and guidance helped raise essential funds for the acclaimed “Bells for Books” mobile library that brings books to kids in lower income areas of Garden City. One of Dee’s most enduring projects was the building of a special courtyard and amphitheater for the library. Today, the library’s courtyard holds events that attract more than 400 people. Garden City Mayor John Evans said, ‘If we could have named Dee “Foundation Chair-For-Life”, we would have done so!’
Dee has been selfless and giving for her entire life. She served as president of Boise’s March of Dimes and also its state president. She served on the Piper Jaffray Foundation Board for three years, successfully soliciting grant funds for the Booth Memorial Home for unwed mothers and a special education program to create a video project interviewing World War II veterans. Dee’s ability to reach out and network is uncanny, and her fan club is vast and truly legendary. The bottom line is that she has always sincerely helped deserving children and their parents. The world is a much better place because of Dee Gore.
The Cabin - Lowman, ID
In 2000, Dee realized a life long dream of purchasing a mountain cabin at Ten Ax ranch in Lowman, Idaho. Dee had experienced many fun weekends at the Campbell cabin at Ten Ax and was ecstatic when a “shell” of a cabin was for sale. After the purchase, Dee and Dick spent many weekends working on the interior. With Dee’s patience running out, they hired a contractor to complete the job, who had it done by October.
Dee spent every other weekend at the cabin with Dick building friendships with other cabin owners over the years. Best friends, including Eileen & Tom, Jennifer & Mike and others, enjoyed hiking, fishing and spotting abundant wildlife in the meadows and hills in and around the Ranch. After wolves were reintroduced to the area, occasional sightings of a pack occurred on Ten Mile Creek. Dee, with many family and friends marveled at the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, as her cabin was in the path of totality and LOVE.
In Her Own Words - Author’s Notes, Hunting for Bittersweet
I was raised on a farm in Missouri and rode the wide, flat backs of draft horses like magic carpets over cornfields and fragrant clover. I played along timber trails pock-marked with wild turkey tracks and hid in dark caves formed by low-hanging cedar boughs. The branches were so heavy they swept the ground bare as the wind blew over the bluffs of the Missouri River. The deed for our farm described and measured by rod and chain 150 acres of hills and bottom land. Windmills sliced the sky and pumped water into fields chapped dry by constant winds in drought years. In wet years, the farm could be overtaken by the floodwaters from the Missouri River just 2 miles away. The people from my community were dependent on the season. My father could change from a fun-loving daddy to a moody recluse when clouds descended over the farm in a wet year, or a drought backed the hard-earned kernels dry. His mood swings were forecast by the weather patterns. I began writing in a red leather journal when I was ten. Secluding myself in a bedroom or hayloft. I wrote poetry and kept a daily diary. Until recently my poetry has been for my eyes only, but when I joined the Live Poets Society, I regained my love and enthusiasm for writing and found the confidence to put together a collection of my work.
Hunting for Bittersweet, Dee Gore
Bittersweet appears after a deep frost.
Creased, yellowish fruit
springs open to expose seeds
nestled in fleshy scarlet arils.
The tangled, gnarling vines,
bright orange kernels,
are hard to find and much prized
for a fall bouquet.
Hunting for bittersweet with father
we walk slowly along timbered trails.
Where will they be, how will I reach
the dangling fruit, daring berries?
He tells stories of childhood in these hills.
old King Johnson had a moonshine still
hidden away from curious neighbors
and do-good sheriffs.
An old woman hermit
kept bees in Doodle Hollow
selling sweet nectar to townspeople
who wanted adventure and honey for pennies.
The stories trail off,
his step springs ahead.
I run to keep up…
he stops, smiles, points above.
Twining around yellowed leaves of maple
bright berries shine like oiled jewels.
He lifts me to catch the beautiful vines
for my mother who waits at home on our farm.
Hunting for bittersweet with father…
his stories spin around in my head.
Memories like bittersweet, much prized.
Delores Elaine Barnhart Gore was preceded in passing by her parents Orville (Beck) and Ruby Barnhart and her brother A.J. of Rock Port, MO. She is survived by her husband Richard “Dick” Peterson (Boise) and former husband, Jay Gore (Missoula), son and daughter-in-law Brooklin and Suzanne Gore of Boise, grandchildren Logan (Portland), Jordan and Linsey Gore (Boise) and nieces Joni True and Jill Niece of Missouri.
In lieu of flowers or other gifts, please provide cash, in-kind or volunteer memorials in Dee’s name to the Garden City Library Foundation (http://notaquietlibrary.org/donate/) or Boise Women’s and Children’s Alliance (http://www.wcaboise.org/give-support/).
A Celebration of her Life will be held in the spring of 2019.