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Obituary: Stephenson, Lyle S.

Age 97

STEPHENSON, Lyle S. (Age 97) Lyle Smith Stephenson lived a long and wonderful life, born at Liberty Lake on September 20, 1916 and leaving this life on November 21, 2013 in his home at Liberty Lake, just a couple miles from the lake cabin where he was born. His 97 years were packed full of wonder and adventure. He grew up in Spokane where his mother Edna Smith operated a boarding house after the death of Lyle’s father, Frank Lyle Stephenson. He worked with his uncle at Neyland’s Grove, cutting ice and hauling it by wagon to customers around Liberty Lake. He graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in 1934, attended Whitworth College where he was president of the freshman class and a member of the football team, and then Gonzaga University. Lyle played for Gonzaga’s last football team, graduated with a degree in philosophy and later a law degree. Lyle was a member of the Spokane Police Department before leaving for war. He served in the United States Marine Corps for 31 years, a career that spanned World War II, the Korean War, and Viet Nam. He married Ruby Williams of Spokane in Sanford, Florida in 1943 before heading overseas. He flew night fighters in the Pacific in WWII where his plane was hit over Rabaul, but safely landed. Other highlights of his military career included teaching future marines at Oregon State College, serving as an intelligence officer at Port Lyautey, Morocco and a logistics officer in Viet Nam. Colonel Lyle Stephenson retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1973. Lyle was preceded in death by Ruby, his wife of nearly 34 years; his sister Ruth Domke; and Laverna (Midge) Wacholtz, his loving companion of over 30 years. He is survived by his two daughters, Lisa Klapp and her husband John of Liberty Lake, Jill Ward and her husband Craig of Gresham, Oregon; six grandchildren: Marissa Braff (husband Andrew) of Seattle; Amy Ward (husband Skip Holling) of Tacoma; Holly Thompson (husband Dave) of Franklin, Tennessee; Christopher Ward of Gresham, Oregon; Brooke Johnson (husband Brian) of Tacoma; and Evan Ward (wife Michelle) of Seattle; Lyle has eight great-grandchildren. A memorial service with full military honors will be held in May 2014. Please contact Thornhill Valley Funeral Home (509-924-2211) in the spring for the exact date and time. Interment is at Pines Cemetery. Lyle’s family wishes to express our heartfelt thanks to all his dear friends at McDonald’s and Fred Meyer who brought joy to Lyle for many years. You provided remarkable camaraderie that made life fun for him right up to his very last days. You are greatly appreciated. These special words held deep meaning for Lyle: Look to this day, for it is life. For yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision; but today, well-lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.


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