She was born June 19, 1905, as Phebe Baker Lemon, the first of five siblings, in
Kingfisher County, Oklahoma. Her birth occurred before Oklahoma had become a
state and while it was still considered Indian Territory. She was named for a
beloved great-grandmother, whom she never met, named Phebe Baker (White) of
As a child she saw many "firsts." She remembers seeing her first car, a
Model T Ford, and her first airplane which swooped over her farm as a
"barnstormer." The first telephone in her home was a wooden contraption that
hung in her kitchen and had certain rings for certain people together with a party
line where others could listen in to their conversations if they wished. She
remembers Haley's Comet and it's bright blazing path as it covered the night sky
and being hustled into the storm cellar for protection against the startling display
because her mother was frightened of the comet.
Her grandfather was Jared Baker White. She remained close throughout
her lite to his wite, Mary Charlotte Mandeville (White) or her "Grandma" who
remained her confidant and closest supporter, especially during some difficult
teen years. Jared was a wealthy farmer with vast land holdings in Nebraska,
Oklahoma (and Florida.) Much ofthe land was acquired by buying up land from
homesteaders who grew homesick and wished to return to the eastern United
States having had enough of the hard life on the frontier. He was very active in
the Congregational Church and helped support missionaries around the world and
an entire orphanage in Armenia for over 20 years. Upon his death, almost all of
this property was willed to the church.
When Phebe was 12 years old, her father passed away and her mother
was lett a widow. By this time, much of the family fortune was gone and her
mother moved to Washington D.C. to take a civil service job. Phebe
had many good memories of when she lived at the Capitol and it remained one
of her favorite places to visit. She remembered vividly, the years when she was
13 and 14 years old, when she would roller-skate nearly every day to visit the
Smithsonian and this institution remained a favorite.
Eventually the family returned to Kingfisher where Phebe finished high
school. She wanted desperately to go to college but had no money tor
tuition. She moved to live with her "Grandma" (Mary Charlotte) and had board
and room tree. She saved all her money from her job teaching grades one through
twelve in a little one-room country schoolhouse. Together with her savings. and
jobs on campus, she was able to attend the l Jniversity of Oklahoma at Norman
She was awarded her Bachelor's degree in 1929 with a major in English and her
minor in Creative Writing. She was of the "Flapper Girl" generation but had little
time for partying as she was busy throughout her college years with work and
On her first day at the University she met a tall, lanky, student over
a geology exhibit and they had a long talk about the rocks. He determined
from that initial meeting that he would one day marry Phebe, if she would have
him, and he confided this fact to friends. She was not so sure as she thought him
to be overly serious and perhaps lacking when it came to a sense of humor. In
time he did convince her that he had this necessary and desired quality, and
she began to call him, my "Bonhomie," which means my " pleasant, affable, or
good natured man." They were wed three years aier their first meeting
by a judge at the county courthouse. She became the bride of
Parker Neal Shelby on September 14, 1928 and their love of geology remained a
shared, life-long interest.
Phebe and Parker became well known on campus at the University of
Oklahoma. To his astonishment, he had broken the school record in high jump, on
his first try, as the result of a dare and had gone on to become the U.S. National High
Jump Champion for three years in a row. He was 6 feet, 7 inches tall and she was 5
feet, four inches. They were known affectionately on campus as the cartoon
characters, "Mutt and Jeff." His participation in athletics led them eventually to the
1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. They found the climate here better for Parker's
health and they both fell in love with the people and the culture of Southern
California and they resided there for the remainder of their lives.
In 1944, Phebe returned to college and attended UCLA where she
studied elementary education and for a short time returned to the teaching profession.
Later, she became a social worker for Los Angeles County where she worked and
eventually retired after twenty years of service. She was a dedicated genealogist and
spent more than 50 years tracing family histories. She learned that her ancestors had
not come over on the Mayflower, as various family members had believed, but had
been "Johnny-come-latelies" who had arrived ten years later in 1630. They were part
of the Huguenots who migrated to America to escape religious persecution in Europe.
(Huguenots were Dutch and French Protestants who were members of the Reformed
C4urch, which was established in 1550 by John Calvin.) She was also able to
confirm something else that her "Grandma" had told her. And that was she was
related to Clinton DeWitt, the principal financial backer of the Erie Canal, who was
elected Governor of New York largely over the issue of whether or not to build this
famous canal. He also went on to establish the public school system in New York.
She had a deep love of American History and her interest in
genealogy eventually led to membership in Daughters of the American Revolution
and other groups that honor the earliest immigrants as well as American founders and
patriots. She traced her ancestry to approximately fii'leen Revolutionary War patriots
of which six were officially registered with the Daughters of the American
Revolution These Revolutionary patriots were Lt. Rueben DeWitt, Samuel White,
Henrick Mandeville, Moses Depuy, Solomon Cook, and Josiah Chandler.
Between 1970 and 1972, Phebe had the distinguished honor of
serving as Regent of the Escholscholtzia Chapter, DAR. This was the first
established DAR Chapter in the State of California and its members meet in Los
Angeles. (Escholscholtzia is the Latin name for the our state flower, the California
poppy.) After moving to Valencia, Phebe helped organize the local Alliklik Chapter,
DAR. It was she who suggested the name for this chapter, "Alliklik," because of its
local historical significance. (Alliklik was another name for the early tribe of Indians
who once lived in Santa Clarita Valley ) She was a member of the Alliklik Chapter,
for more than 25 years
In 1976, as part of the national Bicentennial Celebration, Phebe and
Parker became charter members of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society. They
were involved in saving the Saugus Train Station and its relocation to its present site
in Heritage Junction. Parker painted the large "S.O.S." sign ("Save Our Station") that
adorned the building. He also designed the Society's logo, which is still in use today.
Phebe was part of the Living History Program and served as a docent before short-
term memory loss began to interfere with her ability to participate.
Phebe was an avid, life-long reader Her family knew her as
someone who read just about everything she could get her hands on and she loved a
variety of viewpoints on an array of subjects She was highly intelligent and she
loved a stimulating and challenging conversation ARer fifty-two years of marriage,
Parker said about Phebe, "I was never bored." She could be passionate and
opinionated. She was a "museum quality liberal," having voted for a Republican
president only once in her life and almost immediately regretting having done so.
She was always the champion of the underdog and had a heart as big as all outdoors.
She was energetic and fun.
Her last years in Santa Clarita were spent in her Valencia home
under the care of her family. This was her dearest wish. She was determined to live
to be 100 but fell just short being almost 97 1/2 when she went to the Lord [Dec. 6, 2002]. She was
the first of her siblings to be born and the last to pass on Her siblings preceding her
were Isaac Edward, Samuel, and Steen Lemon and her sister, Annabel Lemon Bilger
Enslow She is also preceded in death by her little son, Parker Neal, Jr. (1935) and by
her husband Parker Neal. Sr. (1980). She is survived by a son, Richard Lemon
Shelby who resides in San Miguel, California and by a daughter, Sandra Shelby
Forbes, who resides in Valencia. Phebe has six grandchildren: Neal (and Lissa)
Forbes, Valencia; Karen (and Tom) Hyldahl, Everett, WA, Robin (and Kevin) Friend,
Seattle, WA, JoAnne (and Alex) Berber, Paso Robles, CA, Douglas Shelby, San
Miguel, CA, and Donna-Caryn (John) Hughes, Roseville, CA. Phebe has 10 great-
grandchildren. Anna Christine, Caleb Parker, Nicole Alicia, Parker Lee, Mikayla
Elizabeth, Uriah James (and Gianna), Allison Hope, Michaela Anne and twins
Alexandria Cecile and Ashleigh Nicole.
A memorial service will be held for Phebe aer the holidays at
Grace Baptist Church, 22833 Copper Hill Drive in Saugus, on Sunday, January 12, 2003, at
2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to the
American Heart Association, or to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.