Marka Marie Davis Hemphill was born August 22, 1938, in Westwood, Lassen County, California to Dr. Fred J. Davis Jr. and Alice (Rosecrans) Davis. She died peacefully in her home of 60 years on December 7, 2022.
Her grandfather, Fred J. Davis, Sr. was the “dam” doctor when Lake Almanor was built from 1912-14. Her great-grandparents homesteaded near Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County in 1853.
She was loved by her husband Jerry Hemphill and family: twins Eric and Audrey followed by twins Sonja and Craig. Eric passed away in 2015. She had four grandchildren: Robert Hemphill, and Evan, Allison and Rachael Gold. She is also survived by siblings Dorothy Mason, Bonnie Ozaki-James, and Paul Davis and son-in-law Garry Gold. Her brother Henry Davis died in January of this year.
Marka and Jerry started dating when she was 14. Marka went to local schools including Lassen High for two years before being forced to go to boarding school in Palo Alto. They married August 29, 1959 in Susanville after she graduated from Stanford University in three years. She remained lifelong friends with many of her grammar school and high school classmates.
The newlyweds enjoyed living in Aggie Villa while Jerry finished veterinary school at U.C. Davis. Jerry then served two years (1960-62) in the U.S. Army as a Captain. They traveled around the country including a year in Madison, WI. Following the birth of a stillborn baby, Marka went to work at the University of Wisconsin, where she earned a masters degree in Botany. She completed her thesis on slime molds in 1962.
Marka and Jerry returned to beautiful Lassen County to visit family, with plans to open a practice in the Bay Area. They were always happy they had stayed to manage the Lassen 7-D Ranch, build a veterinary clinic and raise children. As the family matriarch/cow boss, she kept excellent records on the cattle, weather and the ranch books. They loved their view of Thompson Peak while enjoying coffee together every morning.
Marka taught for more than 30 years including 27 at Johnstonville Elementary School as a kindergarten teacher where she was known for her gold stars. She enjoyed reading, crosswords, knitting, gardening and learning new things. Marka was an amazing mom, unfailingly calm and made wonderful apple pie. She was active with 4-H and FFA for many years with her children.
Always a historian, after retirement in 1998, she volunteered at the Lassen County Museum and with the 4th grade living history days. She enjoyed socializing with friends. She served as president of the Native Daughters of the Golden West Nataqua No. 152 in 2020, an organization that focuses on the care and preservation of California history.
Donations in Marka’s memory may be made to the Lassen High School Alumni Association, P.O. Box 471, Susanville, or Native Daughters of the Golden West Parlor 152, ℅ Lola Ramey, treasurer, 230 N. McDow Street, Susanville. A celebration of her life is being planned for Friday, June 16th, 2023.