Grandma Birdie smiled, even in tough times

Idaho StatesmanMarch 11, 2007 

The memorial pamphlet printed to honor Birdie Dalrymple was folded in such a way that it opened in the middle, like two doors.

On the inside of the program passed out at her funeral March 1 in Boise were glossy pages bound by pink and green brads in the shape of a daisy.

Like any entrance to the telling of a life story, the first page began with "Birdie was born at home in New Plymouth on Feb. 8, 1914..."

The last page ended with, "(Birdie's) best trip of all was on Feb. 26 when her Father welcomed her to Heaven."

She was 93 years old and had lived a life that was filled with joy, hard work, love, and happiness.

"Everybody always talked about her smile," said her daughter, Lois Harpham. "She just had bright blue eyes that sparkled."

When it came time to talk about the trials that her mother experienced, Harpham's similarly piercing blue eyes began to tear up.

She explained that even if Dalrymple had suffered over the years, it was hard to know. Dalrymple rarely showed any sign of turmoil.

"She wouldn't let you know if she was having a hard time in her life. She had a deep Christian faith," said Harpham. "My boys got killed in an airplane crash, and that was hard. When I was feeling bad, I'd go down and talk to her, especially after my boys died. I used to go down there and cry on her shoulder."

That was the role Dalrymple often played — she was the glue that kept her family together, according to Harpham.

Like her own childhood, Dalrymple taught her five children the meaning of hard work and faith.

After her youngest daughter, DeeDee, married and moved out, Dalrymple began to work outside the home, selling Avon around the Eagle area and to her friends.

Dalrymple's husband, Henry, died in 1982. They were married almost 50 years.

After his death, Birdie continued to live on her Boise farm near Chinden and Joplin Roads before moving in with Lois for about six years. She watched her family continue to grow, and was able to hold her great-great-grandchildren.

"She was most proud of her children. She loved the babies. Everybody called her Grandma Birdie," said Harpham.

In November, Grandma Birdie lost most of her ability to talk.

"She could say ‘Yes' and ‘No,' and a little bit more. Some days it would be better than others, you know?" she said. "The day before her birthday I said, ‘We're going to have a birthday party for you.' I asked her, ‘How old are you going to be?' and she said, ‘100,' and grinned."

It was the same grin Dalrymple had flashed throughout her life, in happiness and in sadness.

In Remembrance is a weekly profile of a local resident who has recently died. Contact West Ada news assistant Monique Bosolet at or 672-6716.

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