Our family wishes to announce the sudden death of our mother, Bertha Mae Lee Gleason, 88 years of age.
She was born to David Lee (Bit’ahnii) and Marie Ute Begay (Hashk’aan hadzoho) in the Red Mesa, Arizona area around the time of December 13, 1932.
She leaves behind 3 children. Daughters Brenda Lee (Nkwocha) and Sheila Gleason (Taysom) and son, Jeff Gleason.
14 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.
Immediate brothers and sisters Etta McDonald Tso Garza (deceased), Fred Begay, Wallace Begay, Robert Begay, Elsie Begay (King), Ted Begay (deceased), Raymond Begay (deceased).
Our mother lived a full life which began her humble beginnings on the Navajo Nation reservation in the Red Mesa, Little Water and Teec Nos Pos, Arizona areas. Her grandmother, nali Mae Denetchillie raised her and she would call her grandmother “shi ma”.
All across these lands as a young child she endured the hardships many faced such as no electricity and no indoor plumbing. Her daily life was a life of survival as she tended to herding sheep, collecting firewood and water for her family. But there were times she and her numerous cousins would find time to play as the sheep would graze or as she walked to fetch water and wood.
She completed a 3rd grade education at the Phoenix Indian School when she graduated at age 18.
After working as a nanny for a Senator in Colorado she left for a trade school in Cleveland, Ohio to learn to be a seamstress.
She eventually returned to Teec Nos Pos, Arizona and then moved to Farmington, New Mexico where she lived out the rest of her days.
She loved traveling and for someone who did not own a car nor knew how to drive she traveled far. Whether on foot,
in someone’s car, a train or plane she traveled as far west as Hawaii and as far east as West Virginia.
Her love of music ranged from Hank Williams Senior to Elvis to The Fenders and traditional Navajo Song and Dance songs as well as peyote songs.
She had open arms for anyone who visited her home where she would provide her visitors with a hot meal and a place to sleep if need be. She loved her children, grandkids and great grandkids so very much. She could strike up a conversation with anyone and become instant friends. She had endearing names such as Aunt Bert, Grandma Bert, The Secretary, Bertie, Tweet tweet, and shi’ma.
We’ll miss our Mother but she’s in a far grander place now and is with previously departed loved ones, especially her father and nali.
We love you forever Shi’ma.