Shawn Vestal: A portrait of the community emerges from recent obituaries
An obituary is the portrait of a lifetime. Several obituaries, taken together, form the portrait of a community.
Recent memorials in The Spokesman-Review tell the stories of a school principal and a cattle rancher, a policeman and an amateur radio operator, a square dance caller and a nurse in cardiac care.
The following summaries are taken from these obituaries.
Mary alice huneywell was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1921 and came to Spokane with her family when she was 3 years old. She then attended Eastern State College of Education (which later became Eastern Washington University) and became a schoolteacher, working in Fairfield, Richland and Spokane until she married Seth Huneywell in 1947. They raised four children in Spokane. She died on May 23, three months before her 100th birthday, several weeks after falling and breaking a shoulder.
Robert A. Kuehl loved baseball, playing for North Central High and Eastern Washington State College, then for the Air Force team while stationed in Japan during the Korean War. He later played in Spokane’s semi-pro league and worked as a high school and college basketball umpire. Born in Spokane, Bob married Margaret Johnsen in 1954 and they raised five children. He had a long career as an educator, including several teaching and administrative roles in the region which led to his last post as Principal at Cheney High School, from where he retired. in 1984. A devout Christian, he could be heard singing hymns and praying from his hospital bed in his last days. He died on May 19 at the age of 90.
Having raised eight children, Imelda Marie Hammel Patterson decided to go back to school – to Spokane Community College and then to Gonzaga University – and become a nurse. She then spent 20 years doing a job she loved, as a cardiac nurse at Sacred Heart Medical Center. Born in Dufur, Oregon, Imelda was married to her husband Walt for 70 years. She has been involved in many charitable activities and has participated in over 25 Bloomsday races. She died on May 15 at the age of 94.
Born in Spokane, David Allen Keene discovered his lifelong passions while attending North Central High, where he began playing in swing bands and obtained his amateur license as an amateur radio operator. He continued a 31-year career with AT&T and eventually achieved the Extra-Class classification, the highest level of amateur radio license. He played for years in swing groups around Spokane, most notably with the Order of the Eagles Club Band and his own “Gentlemen of Note”, a 17-piece group he founded in 1967. He met his future wife, Barb, at the Social Spot. club and they were married in 1956. They had three sons. Dave died on May 12 at the age of 87.
Marjorie K. Kloster was born in Davenport and has spent her life farming and ranching in Lincoln County. She graduated from Davenport High, then married Glenn Kloster in 1944. They had two sons and lived for 62 years on the family wheat and cattle farm near Harrington, until Glenn died, when Marjorie took over. management of the farm. They were active in the Lincoln County Cattleman’s Association and members of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers. She also worked at the Davenport Livestock Auction. She died on May 23 at the age of 95.
Born in Picher, Oklahoma, Isaac ray gimlen came with his mother and brother to the Spokane area when he was young. He served in the Coast Guard and Navy during World War II, then began a career with the Spokane Police Department. For over 25 years, he worked as a motorcycle patroller, investigator, sergeant and finally lieutenant, retiring in 1980. In retirement, he enjoyed traveling, racing seaplanes and doing mechanical work. He was a member of the Spangle Masonic Lodge for 60 years, as well as several other fraternal organizations. He died on May 17 at the age of 94.
Christine ann larson was born in Colfax in 1948. She graduated from Pullman High and Pacific Lutheran University, then received a degree in physiotherapy from the US Army Medical Field Service School. She has had a long and distinguished career in physiotherapy and was named Physiotherapist of the Year for Washington State in 1996. In 1997, she began working at Washington State University to research funding. recruiting and retaining rural physicians, and she ended her career in the Washington, DC area, working as director of professional standards for the Federation of State Boards of Physiotherapy. After her retirement in 2007, she moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin to be with her lifelong partner, Catherine Henze. They were married in 2017. She died on May 22 at the age of 72.
Jack raymond blood spent 34 years as a square dance visitor – the same number of years he worked at Kaiser Aluminum. Born in Clagstone, Idaho, Jack was one of 13 children. He married Jeanette in 1957 and they were married for 64 years and raised three children. He enjoyed camping, hunting, fishing, bowling and baseball, and was an exceptional carpenter. He died on April 9 at the age of 86.
Born in Hélène, Joanne Blixt Kassa lost both parents to tuberculosis when she was just a child. She was raised by an aunt and uncle on a ranch in Montana, and she dated Helena High until she moved to Spokane in her senior year, where she graduated from Rogers High. She married Virgil Kassa in 1959 and they raised five children in northern Spokane, where St. Thomas More Catholic Church has played a central role in their lives. She lived the last two years of her life at Fairwood Memory Care, where she died on May 10, at the age of 83, surrounded by her children.
Melvin Leroy “Lee” Bratcher served as a Mount Spokane ski patroller for over 40 years, and was instrumental in the launch of the annual Mount Spokane Ski Exchange. He’s never missed an exchange in 56 years, and the event named a service award in honor of Lee and his wife, Jacquelyn. He served in the military in Germany in the early 1960s, then worked as an auto mechanic for Sears and Camp Subaru, while building his home in Deer Park. He enjoyed piloting gliders and was a member of the Spokane Soaring Society and the Open Door Congregational Church. He died on May 27 at the age of 82.
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