Obituary: Deife, Mary

DEIFE, Mary Mary Mildred (Smith) Deife was born November 19, 1921 at the family home in Tucker Prairie near Cheney WA, to Thomas Clifford and Julia Teresa Smith.

She attended Cheney Elementary School and at the age of twelve she left home and boarded with a family in Cheney where she attended High School.

In 1938, at age sixteen, she graduated and entered Holy Names College, in Spokane.

She graduated from Holy Names College at age nineteen with a teaching degree and began her career in Education at the Mohler, WA.


She taught there one year then moved to Odessa, where she taught for the next three years.

While attending a Grange dance she met John E. Deife and they were married on April 19, 1947.

She continued to teach until her children were born.

Mrs. Deife returned to teaching in Odessa fall of 1955.

She served as a classroom teacher, Kindergarten 5th, 6th and 7th grade, a librarian, and a Special Education teacher.

Odessa School District was the first District in Washington to receive federal funding to begin Special Education.

Mrs. Deife’s program was used as a model for many others across Washington State.

She also proudly served as the Advisor to the High School Honor Society for many years.

After 37 years of teaching, Mrs. Deife retired from education.

Andy Rooney once said “Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us.

Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.

“- This is certainly true for Mrs. Deife.

Mildred was a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic church, the St Joseph’s Altar society and taught Catechism classes for many years.

She made more kuchen and kraut ranza than many of the rest of us put together!

As a life member and officer of the Odessa Grange, Past President of the Odessa Education Association, Past President of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, Past President of the Odessa Historical Society, a member of the Odessa Economic Development Committee, and Chair of the Scabland Steering Committee (which was instrumental in starting tourism to the Channeled Scablands) her influence and work will have a lasting positive impact for the town of Odessa .

She was a member of Fronen Steppdecker, the Odessa Quilters Club and a 4-H Leader for many years.

In both capacities she used her teaching skills to better the lives of others.

She completed 10 Bloomsday runs starting at the age of 70 and organized many Odessa Volksmarches for the Deutschesfest.

She was Parade Marshall the only year it rained during the parade!

True to form, she held her umbrella high while smiling and waving the whole time!

Mildred was preceded in death by her husband John Deife of 61 years, her sister Teresa Groh, two brothers, Ralph Smith and Lt. General Keith Smith.

She is survived by her brother Robert Smith of Woodburn, Oregon.

Three children, Ed Deife (Dee) of Odessa, Teresa Stone (Barry Kirkeeng) of Grapeview, WA.

and Monica Deife (Masato Kuwahara) Sakurai, Nara, Japan.

Four grandchildren, Michael Stone, Tyler Stone (Adelee), Toshi Kuwahara and Julia Kuwahara, three step grandchildren Tami Smith, Jeff Stehr and Juli Stehr, three great grandchildren, Everest, McLaren and Violet Stone and numerous nieces and nephews.

There will be a Rosary at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at 7:00 PM Sunday, March 3rd.

The Mass will be Monday, March 4, at 11:00 am at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Odessa, WA.

Burial at the Odessa Cemetery and a reception at the church hall will follow.

In lieu of flowers the family is asking that contributions to be made to the Odessa School District in Odessa.

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