Emma Lee Dyas went to be with her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, on August 17, 2021. Emma was 97 years young. She was preceded in death by her husband, Albert Vernon Dyas, her parents, step-mother, 6 brothers and 5 sisters and son-in-law Joseph Healey. She is survived by her children (LeRoy Dyas and Janice [Dyas] Healey), her brother Thomas Sword; her 8 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. A viewing is scheduled for Tuesday, August 24th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Alsip’s & Person’s Funeral Chapel, located at 404 10th Avenue South, Nampa. Pastor Neil Evans will be officiating the funeral service scheduled for August 25th at 11 a.m. Interment afterwards at Kohler Lawn Cemetery. All are welcome to attend.
Emma Lee was born February 23, 1924, in Nampa, Idaho, to Thomas Jefferson Sword of Pikeville, Kentucky (deceased 1965) and Ada Florence (Wine) Sword of Minneapolis, MN (deceased 1930). Emma was the 6th child of 13 (7 brothers [Thomas, Jimmy, Eugene, Leon, Robert, LaVerne, and Virgil] and 5 sisters [Julia, Linda, Martha, Anna Mae and Ora Lee]). Following the death of Emma’s mother, she grew very close to her father and 9 month old brother, Virgil. Even at 6 years old her nurturing spirit began to emerge as she took over the care of many of Virgil’s needs. One of her fondest childhood memories was spending 4 weekends each year going on hayrides at her grandparent’s farm.
Industrious from a young age, she had many adventurous undertakings. One of her first ventures was gathering cat tails and coloring them with liquid paint. She sold them to buy her own school clothes. When Emma was between 12 and 14 years old she walked 5 miles each way to pick strawberries and received one and a half cents a box. She earned $10 per day, which she contributed to her Dad to assist with family expenses. Never one to sit still, she also did babysitting for several families, cleaned houses and during these two summers caddied for several doctors at the golf course on Sugar Lane Factory Road. She earned $10 a day in tips. Emma was an avid swimmer and became a member of the Idaho State Swim Team between 1937 and August 1940. She earned several ribbons in the free style, medley, various relays and competitions and she was awarded a trophy, blue ribbon and metals for the backstroke which was her favorite event. Her dream of becoming a member of the Olympic swim team was shattered after her appendix ruptured just before a swim meet. She was hospitalized for several weeks and although she continued swimming after her recovery, she took a job at the Chicken Inn on 11th Avenue North in Nampa as a curb service ‘skating’ waitress. It was here that she met her future husband, Albert Vernon Dyas.
They were married on November 27, 1940 in Mt. Home but settled in Nampa with Albert’s parents for a period of time while he worked as a ranch hand. They relocated to the Seattle area between January 1942 and August 1944 where they both worked for Boeing aircraft. Due to Emma’s small stature she was able to reach areas of the B-17 and B-29 fuselage others could not. She joined the prestigious ranks of Rosie the Riveter. During 2020 the “Congressional Gold Medal was awarded, collectively, to the women in the United States who joined the workforce during World War II, providing the aircraft, vehicles, weaponry, ammunition, and other materials to win the war, that were referred to as "Rosie the Riveter", given in recognition of their contributions to the United States and the inspiration they have provided to ensuing generations”. It would appear Emma finally received her Gold Medal.
Returning to Nampa and ready for motherhood, their son LeRoy Albert Dyas was born on their 5th wedding anniversary; November 27, 1945. After a couple years Albert took a job as brakeman on the Union Pacific railroad and relocated his family to La Grande, Oregon, where Emma cooked for several of the single men while caring for LeRoy. Returning once again to their roots in Nampa, Janice Lee (Dyas) Healey was born on June 8, 1948. Now the mother of two, Emma still managed to care for two teenage step-sisters (Julia and Linda) born to her father and step-mother Nellie (Olive) Tamsett-Sword who were married in 1936. During 1949 Emma also worked for Simplot packing potatoes and onions.
Albert worked for Baker Sand & Gravel in 1950 while Emma took on the job of cleaning Mrs. Baker’s home, caring for some farm animals they had while continuing her role of Mom and home maker.
Albert moved his family to San Bernardino, CA, about 1953 and took a job at Norton Air Force Base. After a year they moved back to Idaho and lived on Lansing Lane, Middleton. Albert tried his hand at raising sugar beets in Kuna, but due to a seed change that year most of the crops failed, including his. He once again moved his family to California in 1956 and into a rented duplex in Fontana. Shortly thereafter he began working for Lockheed Aircraft and became the Special Devices Division Supervisor.
Emma’s love of animals was evident when LeRoy brought a hairless baby squirrel he found home for her to ‘save’. She cared for this tiny thing and discovered “BOSCO” chocolate milk was an acceptable diet for him. If she attempted to go back to regular milk he would use his tiny legs to toss the doll’s baby bottle across the cage. He became the BOSCO-drinking squirrel from then on and a family pet named Jackie.
When they were able to purchase a home in Fontana, Emma was granted a day-care license and partitioned part of her home to care for 4 children. During this time they also applied for a kennel license and began breeding and selling Basset Hounds. During a state inspection, she was complimented on having the cleanest kennel they had ever seen, even though as many as 26 puppies were being cared for. She was known to the neighborhood kids as the ‘Super Dooper Pooper Scooper’. While caring for kids, a kennel, puppies, rabbits and other assorted animals she was still able to keep up with being a wife and mother. Emma and Albert found time to entertain guests on the weekends; loved playing card games, especially her favorite . . . Pinochle. She was known for her fun-loving attitude, great dinners and hospitality.
In 1960 Emma accepted the Lord as her Savior at a summer revival meeting and soon began teaching children’s Sunday School. She was an active member of the Tamarind Avenue Baptist Church in Fontana.
By 1973, Albert retired, the children were married and the two of them returned to Idaho and purchased a little acreage in Eagle. Emma became a distributor for Conklin Products while selling costume jewelry out of her home. Even while immersed in these endeavors, she worked side-by-side with Albert installing fences; burning ditches, keeping irrigation ditches clear, raising a garden and chickens. They stayed busy with family members, social events and by having people in. By 1988 Albert was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Emma spent the next 10 years caring for him at home. He passed away in 1998.
In 2004, Emma relocated to Caldwell and lived in an addition to her son’s home that she called ‘her little mansion’. She joined the First Baptist Church of Middleton and attended regularly. She attended the Canyon County Square Dancers Club as a spectator and looked forward to the Wednesday nights out with friends. She was awarded an honorary membership for her faithful attendance. Emma also met a widowed gentleman at church; Clarence Perry. The two of them became close friends and Clarence would pick her up for church, they went shopping and out to dinner together for over 6 years. Clarence went weekly to various nursing home facilities in the area and played his guitar with other members of his group. Emma always enjoyed going along to visit with the residents and loved the music.
Throughout her life she enjoyed walking, canning fruit, playing cards, working in her garden, fishing and as a younger woman crocheting. Her love of life and of her family, especially the children, is an inspiration to all. She will be missed and remembered warmly by her family and friends.
The family would like to thank 1st Choice Hospice staff for their wonderful care and support. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Foundation.
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