December 7, 1926 –

November 23, 2021

Georgia was born in Minden, the only child of George Brainard and Clara Hamilton. Her father was the editor of the Minden Courier for many years until his death in 1952, and Georgia had fond memories of the Courier office. After graduating from Minden High in 1944, she attended Nebraska Wesleyan for a degree in music and education. She married fellow student Gerald Gage in 1948 and then briefly taught high schools in Malcolm and Elwood, NE, where she worked as an English teacher, drama coach, choir director, and conductor before starting a family. Daughter Ann was born in 1952, followed by sons Greg in 1954 and Matthew in 1957. The Gages also lived in Fullerton and Lincoln, NE before moving to Ellensburg, WA in 1960 and Monmouth, OR in 1967. Mom went back to school and got her Masters in Special Ed. from Western Oregon University. From 1973 to 1977, during the years that Oregon population was de-institutionalized, she served as Polk County’s very first service coordinator for the developmentally disabled. In 1974 Georgia and Gerry divorced. Mother was married to Howard Wildfang on July 31, 1976 after meeting him through a church role. (Mom had been a Methodist since she was 12 years old.) Georgia and Howard shared a strong sense of the need for social, economic, and political justice and community service, both locally and globally. They were a real team, devoting countless hours to many purposes including (but not limited to) Habitat for Humanity (once on a project with Jimmy Carter), Heifer Project International, Christ’s Church, Polk Co. Democrats, Polk Co. Historical Society and the Ron Wilson Center for Effective Living (for the developmentally disabled). In 1993 they were the first couple to share the honor of First Citizens in Monmouth-Independence. No two people deserved more! Mama was a real “doer”, serving on boards and committees, leading and appearing in choirs and bell choirs, growing and arranging flowers and baking countless birthday cakes for her extended family – and during their marriage until his death in 2004, Howard was with every step. She also died of her son Greg in 2002 and son-in-law Jerry Brickeen in 2004, leaving behind daughter Ann, son Matthew (partner, Jay Dietrichs) and daughter-in-law Susan. Although she suffered from dementia in her later years, mom’s sweetness and light always shone through! She was easy to love because she was such a loving person herself. She will miss her family with her many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson. At the moment she leaves a big hole in our hearts that over time will be filled with our many happy memories – of her colorful outfits and hats (Mom looked great in hats!), Lipstick and earrings, big, warm hugs, eternal optimism , and constant support and encouragement. Ann and Matt would like to thank the many wonderful employees at Capital Manor in Salem for looking after Mom so well over the years. We have great respect and gratitude for your hard and important work. A small service can take place at a later date. Should someone want to make a contribution to honor Georgia, we recommend the Capital Manor Foundation, Habitat for Humanity or the Polk Co. Historical Society.