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Lillie Nevitt


By: Bill Winter
Copying of any part of this information is prohibited without permission

Lillie Nevitt was a little woman, but her heart was the biggest I have ever known. Though her life was filled with adversity, she had a way of coming through it and of bringing others with her on that solemn journey. To know Lillie was to know greatness.

Lillie and Clyde, her husband, moved to Douglas, Arizona after having worked for the Fred Harvey Company at the Grand Canyon. One day they called the insurance agency where I worked and wanted insurance for their home. I drove over to their house and after checking it out went inside to discuss the matter. On the way out of the house, Lillie again asked what was my surname. When I said it was Winter she asked if I by any chance was related to a Dorothy Dunagan, nee Winter, who also worked at the Grand Canyon as a RN for the Fred Harvey Company. Dorothy is my sister. That bond was the beginning of a tremendous friendship.

Lillie had twin sons, Harley and Charley. Charley worked in the same insurance agency as I did for a while. I never got to know Harley very well because he did not live here and visited only occasionally.

Lillie was physically limited in what she could do. Her greatest difficulty was coping with failing eyesight. When her eyesight got so bad that she could no longer see the numbers and letters on the telephone touch pad, she got a phone with LARGE buttons on it. She could then read the numbers. She was not one to give up.
But I can give testimony to her indomitable spirit by relating things I saw her do many times. Son Harley had founded a business in California known as CLN Interpreting. He engaged people who spoke various foreign languages and would use those abilities to be interpreters for attorneys, insurance companies, courts, and the like. They were used a lot in the taking of depositions. At one time there were several dozen interpreters available, speaking literally dozens of languages. This was indeed a unique undertaking, but what was even more amazing and interesting was how the business was conducted.

The business was based in California and had a local telephone number. But when anyone rang that number, it would roll over to Lillie’s home and she would answer it as ‘CLN Interpreting’. Nobody would know that they were talking to someone in Arizona and not in California.. Harley lived in northern Arizona, in Kingman. It was from there that he would handle the financial details of the business. From her living room Lillie would receive the request for services. She would then determine which interpreter could fulfill the need and made the appointments. For most of the interpreters, this was a part-time job because there was nowhere near enough business to pay them adequately every day. Correspondence was carried out via telephone and fax machine.

There is reference to this business in Lillie’s book.
Even though she had overhauled car and truck engines, Lillie never drove her own vehicle during the time I knew her. Her health and failing eyesight kept her from that. But there were always a lot of people ready to step in and help her in any way she might need. There was Norma Becker, of course, who did just about everything for her, from buying and preparing food to helping run the business. There was George Ruiz, who operated a one-cab taxi service in Douglas for many years. He would run errands for her also and take her places she either needed or wanted to go. She loved to have him take her to the Gadsden Hotel Coffee Shop where she would have a bite to eat and let all her friends “pay court” to her. We can’t forget Greg Nelson who left a career as a scientist to work in his family’s glass business. Even while Lillie was in hospital these past few years, there was seldom a day that Greg was not there to help her eat, to take her out in a wheelchair, or just to sit and visit.

That was Lillie. Never asked for a thing, except as a favor, and then would be forever grateful for even the smallest favor. The employees at the hospital loved her also and went out of their way to help. To know her was to love her and never forget her.
Little in stature, but larger than life in every other way.

She begins her book by telling us about her sitting in the shade of a tree as a child doing a household task. She now lies next to Clyde under the shade of another tree, her work here on earth finished.


Posted 29th August 2002

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