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Adella Helene Backer McMahon
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Birth: Mar. 8, 1913
Thayer County
Nebraska, USA
Death: Oct. 12, 2009
Multnomah County
Oregon, USA

The Portland Oregonian
Friday, October 23, 2009

McMahon, Adella Helene - 96
03/08/1913 ~ 10/12/2009

Adella was born in Thayer County, Neb., to Chris and Byrdie Backer. In 1920, Adella remembers moving to Idaho by train, taking their furniture, horses and cows in the boxcar. Dad fed the animals en route and the trip took two days and nights. The Snake River area around Nampa, Idaho, and Boise was being developed for irrigation and opportunities for farming were opening up. Adella, the oldest child, had two brothers, Harold and Bill, and a sister, Betty. She attended Lone Tree School, initially riding to school on horseback, then later going by model T. After graduating high school in 1931, she moved to the big city of Boise to attend beauty school, living with relatives Anna and Edgar Chamberlain, who were in the beauty supply business and were instrumental in getting Adella a job curling hair. She worked at C.C. Anderson's, Mode and Hadley's. In 1939 she traveled to Wisconsin to live with a cousin where she met her future husband, John McMahon. They married in 1942 and lived in North Chicago. Their first son, John, born in 1945, had cerebral palsy. Robert was born in 1948. Adella's husband died in 1952 of liver failure and Adella took over caring for two young children. In 1954, she was able to move to Palatine, Ill., and purchase a house with an established beauty shop in the basement. Her business flourished as the town grew from a small farm town to a modern suburb. She worked long hours, but always had time for Sunday drives with her kids. Her customers were her life. She even gave them their last hairdo in the funeral parlor. Adella sold her shop in 1983, but continued to work "only" 20 to 30 hours a week out of her house. In 1999, she finally hung up the scissors for good and moved to Oregon to be close to her son Robert and to get John settled in an appropriate group home. Adella kept active in her last few years at her retirement center in Portland, always knitting and teaching many of the residents and staff to knit as well. Quite a few wound up with hats, scarves and baby blankets. Diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2008, Adella elected not to have aggressive treatment. She was cared for by hospice and remained comfortable until the end, passing away peacefully in her room Oct. 12, 2009. She decided to be cremated and not to have any memorial services. She is survived by her sons, Robert and John McMahon.
Family links: 
  Christoper Backer (1882 - 1968)
  Byrdie Samuell Backer (1889 - 1978)
Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown.
Maintained by: Clint Dunn
Originally Created by: Jan
Record added: Oct 23, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 43433061
Adella Helene <i>Backer</i> McMahon
Added by: Jan
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- Sally Darby Sauer
 Added: Oct. 17, 2012
She owned and operated a successful beauty shop business for most of her life.
- Jan
 Added: Oct. 23, 2009

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