Faye Ellen (Birky) Claassen was born on March 27, 1932, to Amon W. and Katie Elizabeth (Troyer) Birky, near Shickley, Nebraska. She died on April 16, 2019 in Albany, Oregon.
Faye's early years were mostly spent in the Shickley, Nebraska area, although the family made numerous trips to Oregon for several months at a time to visit Birky relatives. When she was 12 years old, the family moved to Albany, Oregon permanently. She completed elementary school at Oak Creek School. Her formal high school education was interrupted by the need to help her father with his construction business by building houses in Albany. She did everything from carrying lumber and roofing to inside finish carpentry. She attended one year at Western Mennonite high school and ultimately earned her GED.
Faye longed to go to college, so she worked hard to pay her own way and attended Hesston College in Hesston, Kansas. It is here that she met Howard Claassen. They were married on June 23, 1959, in Albany, Oregon. Faye and Howard lived in Hesston for a year, and then they returned to Oregon to make their home in Albany. They had one daughter, Janelle.
Typing papers for other students at Hesston led to a job in the college Public Relations Office and was the beginning of her working career as a secretary/office manager. In Oregon, Faye worked as a secretary for the Linn County Extension Service. She worked part-time when Janelle was young, gradually increasing her hours when Janelle went to school. During those years, Faye became very involved with 4-H. She went on to work as an office manager at Grand Prairie Elementary School and then Tangent Elementary School. Faye's love of children was evident when serving as a 4-H leader and working in the elementary schools. Faye also enjoyed teaching others. Even as a young adult, she taught Bible School and Sunday School. Faye was an experienced quilter and taught quilting classes in the Albany/Corvallis area for many years. In later years, Faye traveled throughout Oregon as a 4-H judge at county fairs as well as the Oregon State Fair.
Long-time members of Albany Mennonite Church, Faye and Howard were also invested in the ministry of Mennonite Central Committee. Faye served at the West Coast board level and was instrumental in the Oregon and Idaho MCC relief sales.
Faye was preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, Howard; her parents Amon and Katie Birky; brothers Lester Birky, Dale Birky, and Ray Birky; sisters Lola Nofziger Mullet, Lois Gerig, and Ella Birky.
Faye is survived by her daughter Janelle Baugh and husband David; brother Glen Birky; sister Stella Schantz; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service is planned for Sunday, May 5, 3:30 pm at Albany Mennonite Church. Memorial contributions in Faye’s name can be made to Mennonite Central Committee, PO Box 500, Akron, PA 17501.
AAsum-Dufour Funeral Home is handling the arrangements (www.aasum-dufour.com).
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