Friends celebrate life of Grandma Aggie

CAVE JUNCTION, Ore.– A celebration honoring the life of Agnes Baker Pilgrim, better known as Grandma Aggie, was held by some of her friends at the Takilma Community Building in Cave Junction Sunday night.

Dozens came out to the event to pay their respects and share stories of their time with her. Many described her as a steward of the land, a beloved member of the community and a grandma to all.

But that’s only a bit of how you might describe Grandma Aggie.

“We just consider ourselves so fortunate to have known her for 95 years,” said Julie Norman, a friend and the secretary of the Agnes Baker Pilgrim Fund.

On November 27, Grandma Aggie’s story came to a peaceful conclusion.

“Everybody loved her and she reached out to all kinds of people and she represented the best of people,” said Steve Kiesling, a friend.

As the oldest living member of the Takelma people and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz – Grandma Aggie’s life has enough stories to fill a book. However, friends described her advocacy for Native American culture and the environment as some of her most memorable.

“She often talked about reciprocity and what she meant by that was our place as humans is to give back to the earth,” said Norman.

“But she also said human beings are not intruders,” said Kiesling. “We’re participants and that’s really important especially in the world the way it is to realize that we are participants in making this world a better place.”

With traditional ceremonies and sharing of stories throughout the night, the celebration of life marked just that. The celebration of one person who spent her life making a difference.

Her friends say they hope to carry on her legacy and pass on the wisdom she bestowed to them.

“She was so inspired by what she felt the earth represented,” said Norman. “The earth was her church she always admonished us to take care of the earth, particularly the water.”

Grandma Aggie recently celebrated her 95th birthday in September. This past August, she was also given Southern Oregon University’s highest honor, the President’s Medal.

A public memorial hosted by Grandma Aggie’s family is scheduled for January 11. It will be held at the Josephine County Fairgrounds.

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