It is difficult to capture in words the essence of a life so grand as that of wife, sister, friend, and teacher Chuckie Aanestad, who left us suddenly on February 4, 2023, at home in Leaburg, Oregon, with her devoted husband Duane by her side.
Chuckie was born on September 19, 1951, in Eugene, Oregon, to Dale and Janet Scofield, the first of four children. She spent her childhood in South Dakota and northern Montana, moving often with her father’s job.
The quintessential Renaissance Woman, Chuckie was creative beyond words. She easily filled every room and space with her enthusiasm, humor, lively conversation, and engaging news of her many projects and experiences. In the words of her sister, Connie, “Chuckie’s life was a beautiful patchwork sampler quilt,” varied and colorful, created and shared with imagination and love. Chuckie’s appetite for adventure enriched her life and marriage, as well as the lives of everyone who crossed any one of her countless paths. She loved people, was humble to a fault, and while sometimes candidly honest, she had a special way of welcoming people into her life and finding the good in others.
After graduating from Oregon College of Education, Chuckie arrived in Riverton, Wyoming, in January of 1975, to teach middle school art for District #25. Soon after, on a cross-country ski adventure into Brooks Lake, she met Duane, and they began their forever love affair together. After their marriage in 1979, in Nimrod, Oregon, Duane and Chuckie bought a home at the base of Casper Mountain, Wyoming.
In 1980, they moved back to Riverton where Chuckie began a job with The Ranger drawing ads. She was subsequently hired back into the Riverton school district as an elementary art teacher at Jefferson Elementary School where she helped develop the district art curriculum. Adamant that children’s art be visible in the community, Chuckie was instrumental in the Placemat Contest and the Annual Art Fairs for District #25. Throughout her teaching career that spanned many years, Chuckie was, as in everything, flexible and diverse. With her degree in English, she also later taught reading, language arts, computers, as well as sponsoring the school newspaper and yearbook classes at Riverton Middle School. Knowing that the best ideas are borrowed and shared freely, Chuckie collaborated at every opportunity with other teachers in student productions. After taking a stab at retirement, Chuckie was hired back at Jackson Elementary School to teach kindergarten and first grade art.
Chuckie was a main fixture for many summers at Sweetwater Garden Center where many in the community sought out her expertise with their questions on plants and how to make their own gardens thrive. With her giving spirit, Chuckie lent her artistic eye, time, and talent to Central Wyoming College volunteering to CWC theatre program as well as creating poster art for upcoming events. She was an active member of Arts in Action, the Riverton Garden Club, and several book clubs. She was very proud to be asked to draw historical locations and artifacts for geological reference for a class she took at Central Wyoming College.
Throughout their marriage, Duane and Chuckie were always planning or participating in outdoor adventures together in both Wyoming and Oregon. Cross-country skiing, kayaking, wilderness canoe camping, Colorado River whitewater rafting, golfing, and spending time with friends were constants. At the top of her list, though, Chuckie truly loved her weekly date nights with Duane that lasted throughout their lives together.
Family meant everything to Chuckie, and so in 2014, she and Duane began a new chapter of their lives and moved back to Leaburg, Oregon, to be nearer her mother and extended family. They bought a home overlooking the McKenzie River. It didn’t take long before Chuckie’s days were filled with new friends, creating picture-perfect gardens, sharing plants with those up and down the River, volunteering for the Leaburg Library, and presenting as an OSU Master Gardener and for local garden clubs. She also worked many McKenzie Track meets with her husband, Duane.
In Leaburg, Chuckie was a member of the Upriver Garden Club, Late Bloomers Garden Club, OSU Master Gardeners, and the Hardy Plant Society, and still somehow found time to be a mentor and teacher to any who asked. Time and knowledge are among the most valuable gifts anyone has to give, and Chuckie shared hers generously, humbly, and graciously. When faced with a new offer, Chuckie had already said yes before you could finish the question.
Chuckie loved antiques and collected them throughout her life. She was always on the lookout for the original Fiesta Ware, and up to recently was still adding “a piece of this and that” to coordinate with her eclectic collection of colors. She delighted in browsing antique stores wherever she would travel.
A voracious reader, Chuckie continuously devoured non-fiction and fiction alike, and was a member of a McKenzie River book club. She took great delight in children’s literature which she enjoyed reading to both students and adults. Her lifelong dream to illustrate a children’s book was in the works. Thanks to her natural talent as a pen & ink and watercolor artist—two mediums she loved—Chuckie had been invited to collaborate with author Vicki Spandel on a new children’s book titled World of Water, World of Sky. Each was thrilled for the honor of working with the other, and what a team they would have made.
Chuckie was a free and adventurous spirit. Top-down convertible sisters road trips added to her sense of fun and adventure. Her love of travel took her across the US as well as to England, India, Nepal, France, Ireland, and Japan, documenting her experiences along the way in detailed journals through both words and her trademark pen & ink drawings. Her traveling partners will miss the easy-going, game-for-anything style that made Chuckie a delightful and fun-loving travel-buddy, no matter the destination.
She leaves behind her loving husband, Duane, of 43 years, best friend and sister, Connie (Cliff) of Finn Rock, Oregon, brothers Dallas (Tammy) of Lebanon, Oregon, and Wade of Nimrod, Oregon, step-daughter Dr. Amy (Jeff) Short, eight grandchildren, and her nieces and nephews.
Chuckie also leaves behind the legacies of her legendary gardens, the originally-designed quilts made with love for family and friends, her weekly Oregon mountain hikes with sister Connie, mountain horse packing with her brothers Dallas and Wade, and untold adventures with Duane camping, canoeing, and traveling to favorite spots throughout Wyoming’s mountains and along the Oregon’s coast, all documented in her signature photo books and journals to keep the memories alive.
She was preceded in death by her parents and her step-daughter Karena Finch.
All of those privileged to know her will deeply miss her dedication to family and friends, her students, her countless contributions to her communities, and Chuckie’s incredibly adventurous, creative, inquisitive, and giving spirit.
Donations can be made to the Leaburg Library, 42888 McKenzie Highway, Leaburg, OR 97489, the Vida McKenzie Community Center, 90377 Thomson Lane, Vida, OR 97488, or the OSU Extension Service Master Gardeners Program, 996 Jefferson Street, Eugene, OR 97402.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Aanestad residence in Leaburg, Oregon, and in Riverton, Wyoming, later this spring and summer.