Katie Farmer – Hillis – Crist was born in 1919 in Atoka, OK, where she and her 3 brothers: Louis, Carl, Pat and 2 sisters: Clara and Betsy, grew up on her father’s farm. Katie told stories of her family traveling by covered wagon to see relatives in neighboring states. At the age of 9 Katie’s mother passed away. Shortly after she took her first job in a local diner to help the family with expenses and with few exceptions she held a job from age 9 to 77.
After Katie’s brother, Louis [abombadier] was taken prisoner and later died in a German POW camp she moved her husband and boys to Oakland CA. There she worked in the ship yards not as Rosie the Riveter but as Wendy the Welder. Katie became a certified welder in just over 3 weeks [half the normal training time]. Because she was both tiny and fearless she welded hulls up high, down low, and in all sorts of tight spaces – “send Katie, she’ll fit”. At the close of WWII Katie turned in her stinger and rod and returned to Oklahoma.
Waitress work provided her the ability to support her family and time with her children. Waitress wages, tips and a frugal way allowed Katie to raise her children in comfort. Katie worded the graveyard shift as it allowed her more time with her kids. She would get them off to school, sleep some, spend most of the day with them, and tuck them in before heading off to work. Katie was fiercely protective of her children and very devoted.
Katie retired the first time from Prospectors Skillet in Prescott, AZ where celerities such as Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood and John Wayne were among her regular customers when they were in town.
Intending to volunteer, Katie began working various jobs at Arcosanti outside Cordes Junction AZ. After 2 weeks it was noticed that she was as dedicated to the project as any staff. To her surprise she was given a paycheck to which her response was “I guss I better get working then.”
Friendly and adventuresome Katie developed strong friendships. Abouth the age of 70 she and a girlfriend rende a couple of quad-runners and went camping for 4 days in the desert. That was not unusual for Katie; she was alway up for a new experience.
At the age of 77 Katie moved to Phoenix to be closer to her family. She had a loving heart, open home and could be depended upon in a crisis.
Katies family came to Arcosanti last week to say good-by to her in a place that Katie loved. Each time she visited she said how much she would like to come back.
Katie is survived by
daughters Cindy and Susie,
sons John and Bobby,
grandchildren Shannon, tiffany, Jay, Cory, Derek, Frank, Merinda, Michella and Heath,
great-grandchildren Nicki, Georgia, C.J., Cyndle, Siera, Hilo, Nina, Robbie, Alexander, Justin and Christina.