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Obituary: Stratton, Wanda Lee Cummings

Sun., Nov. 25, 2012

Age 82

STRATTON, Wanda Lee Cummings Left this world November 21, 2012, at the Avalon Care Center in Pullman.

Her husband of 63 years and their three children were at her bedside.

David Hodges Stratton and Wanda were married in Portales, NM, on November 23, 1949.

They had three children: Michael (now of Edmonds, WA), Nancy Stratton Hall (Olympia), and Scott (Pullman).

When David completed a PhD degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1955, Wanda received a “PHT” diploma (“Putting Hubby Through”) in an impressive ceremony presided over by the university president’s wife.

Wanda had worked first in the CU library and then for the Dow Chemical Company at the Rocky Flats nuclear facility near Golden, CO. At Rocky Flats she held one of the highest national security clearances given in that secretive Cold War period.

After David took a History faculty position at Baylor University, Waco, TX, the couple had their first child and Wanda finished enough transfer credits at Baylor to receive her BS in Home Economics at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

She was the first member of her original family to obtain a college degree.

Born April 21, 1930, at Portales, Wanda was the first of four children of Ruby Lee Cummings and Nannie Ereth (Maxwell) Cummings, both members of eastern New Mexico homesteader families from Texas.

Wanda’s family lived on an irrigated peanut farm in a sparse three room house (bedroom, living room,and kitchen) built by her father.

On the farm, she learned to cook on a coal-fired stove with only cold running water in the kitchen.

The family supper, eaten at the kitchen table, usually consisted of cornbread and buttermilk.

At harvest time Wanda and her mother prepared meals for five or six hungry hired hands, who ate around the same table.

Indoor bathroom facilities were a distant future luxury for young Wanda.

In the early years of their marriage, while David was on the Baylor faculty, Wanda spent a lot of time packing and unpacking for summer research trips to distant archives extending from California to Washington, DC.

In the fall 1962, when David joined the History faculty at Washington State University, they came to Pullman and stayed for the next fifty years.

Wanda lived life to the fullest in Pullman.

She was a member of local bridge clubs, the Ingleside Book Society, the WSU Home Economics Club, the Foreign Foods group, and water aerobics classes.

Besides working part-time at the WSU Psychology Department’s primate research center, she also served on election boards and at WSU registrations, as volunteer secretary at the Pullman Presbyterian Church, as PTA vice president for eastern Washington, and she delivered Meals on Wheels.

When her daughter, Nancy, graduated from Pullman High School in 1976, Wanda helped organize the first all night party for graduates, which has been an annual custom since then.

A staunch sports fan, she always followed the Cougars, on occasion proclaiming that they would surely be “better next year”.

As her children grew, Wanda became “Mom” to many of the kids’ friends.

She enjoyed teaching these youngsters to bake cookies in a kitchen filled with laughter and love.

Above all else, she was a good listener for her children, their friends, and her own friends in the community.

Her genial nature and loving acceptance of others were traits many will remember about Wanda.

She was never pretentious nor prone to subterfuge; instead “you got exactly what you saw” both at first meeting or when you got to know her.

Wanda’s children brought more members into the family for her to love.

Michael and his wife Cheryl added the first two grandchildren, Candice in 1977 and Shaun in 1979.

Nancy Hall sent three grandchildren into Wanda’s brood with the birth of Zachary in 1985, Kelsey in 1987, and Aaron in 1991.

“Grandma Wanda” delighted in spoiling all of her grandchildren with love, laughter, and their favorite treats kept in her special “candy drawer.”

Wanda still had love to share as her grandchildren brought great-grandchildren into the fold.

Candice Stratton Haskins and husband Darby of Seattle contributed Aria in 2002 and Benjamin in 2007.

Shaun Stratton and his wife Marissa of Bellevue added Lilje in 2003, Josiah in 2005, Annabel in 2007, and Henry in 2010.

Wanda is also survived by her brother Jay Cummings of Midland, TX, her sisters Judy Terry of Portales, NM and Rebecca Cummings of Tajque, NM, and their families.

Wanda’s sentiments during her last trying seven months confined to a wheelchair might well be expressed in this Scripture: “And I said, Oh, that I had wings like a dove!

for then would I fly away and be at rest.”

(Psalms 55:6).

And the feelings of her family are stated exactly in this paraphrase: “Goodnight, Sweet Princess, and may flights of angels carry thee to thy rest.”

The family welcomes cards and messages but requests that no flowers be sent.

Donations in Wanda’s memory may be made to Family Home & Hospice, 1600 NE Eastgate Blvd., Pullman, WA 99163.

Wanda’s husband and children want to express their great appreciation for the excellent care given to her by the nursing staff and administration of the Avalon Care Center and also for the outstanding attention provided by the Hospice staff.

The family will hold a celebration of Wanda’s life January 19, 2013, at a location to be announced.


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