Shawn Vestal: Law officer, hero and hardworking residents memorialized
One obituary is a portrait of an individual. Several are a portrait of a place.
The following represents a random sampling of some people who passed away recently in the Spokane area – a police officer and a nun, a business owner and a banker, a World War II hero and a Kaiser worker. These brief sketches have been condensed and edited from recent obituaries.
Born on a Nebraska farm, Madeline Thiede was a gifted musician and music teacher – but her occupations also included managing a bucket-line gold dredge in Elk City, Idaho, and running a cattle ranch. When her sons were in high school and college, she hosted their friends so frequently that their home became known as “Madeline’s Boys Ranch.” She lived her last eight years at Guardian Angel Assisted Living in Liberty Lake. She died April 9 at age 91.
Michael R. Coyle
A lifelong Spokane resident, Michael R. Coyle graduated from Lewis and Clark High School and went on to a career at Kaiser Mead, retiring and moving into land development and real estate. He built many homes and mobile home parks in the area. An avid outdoorsman, Mike was a member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Inland Empire Safari chapter and the National Rifle Association; he was a guide at the Spokane Fish Hatchery for six years. He and his wife of 64 years, Edyth, had four children, seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. He died recently at age 81.
Doris Brown’s first banking job in Spokane came with Rainier Bank in 1979, which brought her from the Tri-Cities back to her hometown. She became manager of the bank’s Five Mile branch, where she spent the bulk of her career. Over the years, the branch changed hands to Seafirst Bank and then Bank of America. In 2007, she became a vice president and branch manager for Intermountain Community Bank. She was a director at Excelsior Youth Center for 32 years and sat on the board of Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. She died at age 62 on April 12.
Frederick R. Mielke
Frederick R. Mielke’s 26-year career as a Spokane police officer included overseeing operations at the People’s Park during Expo ’74. He loved classic cars and was a member of the Dukes Car Club; he was once ranked at the top of his class nationally in boat racing. Early in his career, he was a volunteer at Morning Star Boys Ranch and helped organize summer camps for needy kids. A Spokane native and graduate of North Central High School, he and his wife, Karlynn, raised four children here; their son, Todd, serves on the Spokane County Commission. Fred died April 15 at age 75.
Agnes Marie Krieg
Agnes Marie Krieg moved to Spokane with her family when she was 8. She joined the Sisters of the Holy Names in 1933, pronouncing her vows as Sister Mary Madalena. She taught music in parish schools in Portland, Astoria, Bend, Seattle, Spokane and elsewhere until 1964, when she moved into classroom teaching and later into a variety of other ministries. She retired in 1989, living at Marian Hall in Spokane. She loved a good hamburger or a trip to Doyle’s ice cream parlor. On Dec. 31, 2012, she celebrated her 100th birthday. She died April 17 at age 101.
Clemens A. “Clem” Schaller
Clemens A. “Clem” Schaller piloted the “Panting Stork II” B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II in 1944 and 1945. He was once shot down over France, managing to “belly-land” his B-17; he and his crew made it back to England with help from the French Underground. His final active Air Force mission came in 1952 on a now-declassified scientific research mission – co-piloting a B-29 Superfortress through the cloud of the first hydrogen bomb test at Enewetak Atoll. He and his wife, Leone, raised four sons. Upon his retirement from the military, he and his family returned in 1953 to Pullman, where he began a career in homebuilding. He died April 10 at age 93.
Doris Madge Mithaug
Doris Madge Mithaug ran her own store in Osburn, Idaho, during the 1950s – Madge’s Ladies and Children’s Wear. After moving to the Spokane Valley in 1957, she worked as a buyer for the Bon Marche. Her husband, Earl, retired in 1980, and the couple spent years of their retirement between Spokane Valley and Lake Havasu, Ariz. She died March 29 at age 93.
Boyde W. Allen Jr.
Boyde W. Allen Jr. graduated from West Point and married his wife, Helen “Alice” Dirnberger, on the same day in 1949. His long and distinguished military career included service in Korea, Vietnam and the Pentagon; he was promoted to colonel in 1971, was awarded a long list of medals and citations, and retired in 1975. He and Alice moved to Valley, Wash., where he enjoyed hunting, fishing and gardening. He died April 9 at age 88.
Alice Lillian Elias
During the Depression, Alice Lillian Elias worked in the North Dakota potato fields and as a cook’s helper during harvests to help support her family. A longtime Spokane Valley resident, her favorite hobbies in recent years included watching reruns of “Little House on the Prairie,” along with square dancing, bingo and rooting for Gonzaga. Her husband, John, died in 2009 as they drew near their 70th anniversary. She died April 12 at age 94.
As a boy growing up in Walla Walla, Denis Hime would ride his bike to work in his father’s electrical appliances store – Herb Himes Hub – before school. He and his wife, Judith, raised two children and lived in Spokane Valley. He died April 13 at age 71. His obituary said: “In memory of Denis, the family asks that you perform a random act of kindness in his honor.”
Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or email@example.com.