Arlenne Randles, 82, of Medford, is moving to the coast and leaving her holiday-decorating legacy behind. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

Leaving behind a holiday tradition

Coming up for sale soon: One house filled with memories — and a huge collection of seasonal decorations.

Thanksgiving is the current theme at Arlenne and Bob Randles' Medford home, located at the busy intersection of Stewart and Columbus avenues. The huge picture window is currently festooned with myriad turkeys, pumpkins, scarecrows and lighted wreaths. It's just one of many displays that have delighted passersby for the past 15 years, thanks to Arlenne's penchant for holiday decorating.

"I like to decorate," she says. "I have the whole house decorated."

But just as every year has its seasons, so to do human lives. Arlenne's husband, Bob Randles, died last month.

His passing signals it's time the 82-year-old Arlenne moves to the Oregon Coast to be closer to her family, said Arlenne's niece Linda Cox.

"Bob gave her the big picture window, and she filled it," said Linda's husband, Phil.

Seated at a table in the living room, Arlenne smiles wistfully as she flips though albums filled with photos of seasons past and hand-written notes from dozens of grateful strangers.

"Dear Occupant" or "Hello Neighbor," the letters begin. Each expresses how much Arlenne's creativity had brightened their day.

One letter from a mother included three hand-drawn turkeys, decorated with vivid purple tissue paper and multi-colored sparkling confetti.

There are also notes from Arlenne.

"A man in a wheelchair came by one day and stopped to tell us how much he enjoyed the decorations," she wrote.

She likes all the holidays. But she'll admit to an extra-special fondness for Halloween.

"She's kind of partial to scarecrows and snowmen," said David Randles, another nephew.

People have often come up to the door offering cakes, cookies and candies as payment for the visual feast, Arlenne said.

One Halloween a young woman came to the door with a special request. Her daughter was terrified of the spooky season, the woman said.

"She wanted to know if she could bring her in," Arlenne said. "(The child) was terrified at first. But she found out the decorations weren't going to jump out at her."

A lifetime Medford resident, Arlenne began decorating in earnest when she worked at a cafe inside the old Newberry's department store, she said.

"I enjoyed it," Arlenne said. "A lot of people don't like to decorate. I think it's fun."

A letter from one of her former co-workers is included in Arlenne's keepsake album. Brejea Everalls wrote that she was just 14 years old when she met Arlenne at Newberry's. Now married with a home of her own, the would-be decorator admitted to a lot of gawking, and even some covetous glances.

"I hope you are not thinking I am some strange stalker or anything," said Everalls, adding she was simply enjoying the view and hoping to make her home as thematically cheery. Her husband has urged her to "study at the feet of a master," Everalls wrote.

Arlenne's passion for decorating continued as the years rolled on. She bought anything she "thought was pretty," for any season. She even made some herself, Arlenne said.

"I made that deer," Arlenne said, pointing to a photo of a sleigh and reindeer. "I made three of them. I had to put some ears on him. They'd fallen off. Then a leg fell off. I finally got the whole thing to hang together."

Fixing the afflicted is another passion for Arlenne. She has spent her life taking care of others, said Phil Cox. She cared for her own ailing mother as a teen, then Linda Cox's father, then a co-worker from Newberry's days, and finally her own aged husband, he said.

"I told her it's time we take care of her," Cox said. "She's going to be treated like a princess."

Arlenne will be taking some of her favorite decorations with her to the coast. But there simply isn't room for dozens upon dozens of boxes of seasonal displays in her new home, said Linda Cox.

Arlenne expressed her hope that whoever buys her home will continue her tradition. Phil Cox assures this unknown buyer that his aunt will leave them well prepared to do so.

"The decorations kinda go with the deed," Cox said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail

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