Margaret Junita Everton Eckles Argante died peacefully on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 in Roseville, California. She was 94 years old. Known as Nita by her intimates, she began her life in Norfolk, Virginia as the youngest of five siblings. Daughter of Walter and Maggie Everton, Nita grew up in a tight-knit family that pulled together and shared the burdens brought about because of the Great Depression and World War II. The connection forged with her parents and siblings continued for the rest of their lives.
She moved to California in 1944 with her first husband – Jimmy Eckles. They met in Norfolk while he was serving in the military during WW II. The lifestyle and energy of California seemed to feed her spirit in a way that she had not experienced on the east coast. Although she made many trips back to Virginia over her lifetime, Nita fully embraced her new home and lived the rest of her life out west.
Nita’s life in California was a clear example of the evolving role for women in her generation. Fun-loving and smart, she maintained the household for herself and Jimmy, entertained friends and welcomed family for visits – often trying her hand at new recipes, decorating schemes, and fashion trends. At the same time, she worked outside the home for the city of Lynwood, in an administrative capacity for both the Fire and Building Departments. Widowed after thirty years of marriage, Nita continued her independent lifestyle while maintaining a household and working for the city.
She married George Argante in the fall of 1977 – a building inspector she knew through work. They ultimately retired to Sutter Creek, where George built them a mountain home with a full basement for his collections. This more rustic lifestyle gave Nita the opportunity to use long-dormant knowledge and skills she learned as a young girl. Between ‘antiquing trips’ to surrounding counties with George, Nita developed relationships with the neighbors, learned about the indigenous plant and wildlife of her new locale and worked with George to keep their house and land as ecologically viable as possible.
Widowed again as the century transitioned, Nita continued to live on her own in Sutter Creek. Fiercely independent, she refused an offer to move back to Virginia and live with her older sister – also a widow. By this time, Nita was a bona fide Californian and was determined to finish out her life in the home that George had built for her. Two years ago, Nita could no longer safely live alone and moved to a nursing home in Roseville. The house has been passed to her nephew who plans to use it for a mountain retreat for his own family.
Nita’s life was long – and well-lived. She witnessed many changes over her 9 decades … war and international conflicts, innovations and inventions. She watched the passing of her siblings – the last of whom died 10 years ago. And she was even predeceased members of the next generation - her nephews Don Simkins and Kenny Everton and her niece Marsha Harrington. She leaves her extended family, neighbors and friends with a legacy of independent living, a life-long love of learning, and maintaining a mindful watch on how we impact the environment.