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Rural Resilience: Bob and Jane Faller

What Republic lacks in medical services and big-town accouterments it makes up for in rural resilience. Bob and Jane Faller are fiercely independent like most of the hardy individuals in this northeast corner of the state where Colville is the closest town with a Wal-Mart and Spokane is considered the big city. The Fallers returned to Ferry County eight years ago after living on the West Side and building a house that resembled a barn.

View second installment of Rural Aging: A fall separates Bob and Jane Faller


Tyler Tjomsland - The Spokesman-Review

Jane Faller smiles while walking with her husband, Bob Faller, and their dog Murphy on their rural property on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, near Republic, Wash. Their daily walks around their 12 acres are an echo of earlier nomadic times, when they roamed the U.S. and British Columbia, working odd-jobs and living off the land for a time before growing bored and moving on to the next location. They eventually settled near Republic, where Bob was diagnosed with throat cancer.


“Oh my God. She made me cry,” Bob says recalling the first time he saw Jane working in a Macy’s toy department in New York City.


Tyler Tjomsland - The Spokesman-Review

Bob and Jane Faller are seen in their 1957 wedding photo on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, at their home in Republic, Wash.


A nails-tough individualist, living off the grid as much as possible - even when facing terminal illness - Faller keeps the medical system at bay, not with his bare hands, but with perseverance, alternative medicine and yoga poses like the downward dog.


Tyler Tjomsland - The Spokesman-Review

Jane Faller meditates during a yoga class led by Bob, right. on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, at the Republic Senior Center, in Republic, Wash. The class took off in the rural community almost as soon as Bob started it. Soon, the tiny senior center in the Republic church basement was packed wall-to-wall with yoga mats.


“It scares the living shit out of me to leave her alone,” Faller said. “Can she live here alone?”
Jane, in her mild, girl-like tone, assures her agitated husband she will be OK. She’s a strong woman, surviving her own cancer battle 20 years ago when doctors removed a breast. Two decades later, she still has effects of the chemo. She may not like the constant talk of death, but she knows its reality.


Tyler Tjomsland - The Spokesman-Review

Jane Faller looks to Bob during a dinner conversation on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at their home in Republic, Wash.


Tyler Tjomsland - The Spokesman-Review

Bob Faller catches a breath while cutting down a tree on his property on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, near Republic, Wash. Faller works with the fervor of a man decades younger, limbing the tree in a day and completely removing it in the next. The wood will heat his home this winter.


Tyler Tjomsland - The Spokesman-Review

Jane applies a soothing cream to Bob’s back after a day of working outside on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, at their home in Republic, Wash. Radiation for throat cancer has left his skin burned nearly a year after treatment.


“We don’t require much,” says Bob. “We both came from two poor families, working their asses off for survival. We’ve never wanted for something we didn’t need.”


Tyler Tjomsland - The Spokesman-Review

Bob Faller leans on a support beam in the greenhouse he built for his gardens on Saturday, May 2, 2015, near Republic, Wash. The Fallers grow much of their own food and that which is not consumed fresh from their elaborate gardens will be canned or given to friends. “Janie and I were born in the Golden Age. We could go anywhere and do anything,” Bob said.


Tyler Tjomsland - The Spokesman-Review

Bob Faller unconsciously scratches the radiation burns on his back from cancer treatment while tending to his chickens and ducks at his home on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in Republic, Wash.


“This is the culmination of our whole life,” Bob Faller said, while on one of his two daily walks through their property. No matter the weather, even when ice makes the trails treacherous for old bones, the Fallers walk in nature. It’s their religion.


Tyler Tjomsland - The Spokesman-Review

Jane Faller points out tracks in the snow to Bob as they take their dog Murphy on a winter walk through their grounds on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Republic, Wash. The daily ritual is a meditation on changing seasons and the immense complexity of their natural surroundings. “Everything in nature is controlled by nature,” says Bob. “Everything.”

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