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Opinion >  Column

Shawn Vestal: Mothers and doctors, military men and meter maids make community

One obituary is a portrait of an individual. Several add up to a portrait of a community.

Recent obituaries document the passing of a family doctor and an Air Force commander, a meter maid and a barber, a farmer and a PR man. Here are several of them, summarized from recent notices published in the newspaper:

Judy Rae Gross met her future husband while working at the soda fountain at the Davenport Hotel. She and Peter married in 1955 and had five children. They raised chickens and turkeys, and sold U-pick produce at their Five Mile Prairie property. Peter died in 2008. Judy also worked as a legal transcriptionist and in state government. After her retirement, she went back to college to learn medical transcription. She was born in Spokane in 1937 and died Oct. 15.

House calls were part of Dr. William Edward Anderson’s routine during his decades as a family doctor in Spokane. He did his residency at Sacred Heart Medical Center, practiced for three years at the Rockwood Clinic, and ran a solo family practice clinic in the Valley from 1954 to 1983. He also was one of the founders and original physicians for the Spokane Valley General Hospital. In 1988, he shot a hole-in-one at the Coeur d’Alene Municipal Golf Course. He died Oct. 23 at age 93.

Genevieve (Bradley) Teufert died on her late husband’s birthday, Oct. 20. She was 89. She and Merton had two daughters, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandkids. Genevieve was one of the first 10 meter maids hired by the city of Spokane, and she worked in that job for 26 years.

Helen Elinor Anderson attended three presidential inaugurations with her husband, Bob. An active Republican, she was well-known for helping organize the annual Lincoln Day banquet and was involved in the effort to create the city of Spokane Valley. She and Bob raised two sons in Yakima and Spokane. Born and raised in Davenport, Helen represented Lincoln County as its princess in the 1945 Lilac Festival. She died Oct. 14 at age 87.

Neil Van Tine lived his whole life on the farm in the Elberton area, where his great-grandfather came by wagon train. He graduated from Colfax High School in 1942 and attended Washington State College, before returning to the family farm. He and his wife, Phyllis, raised three children on the farm. He loved to reminisce about the changes over the years, including the arrival of electricity at the farm. He served on the school board, was a fire district commissioner and participated in many other community organizations. He died Oct. 23 at age 89.

Born in Tokyo and raised on military bases in Japan and the U.S., Jeff Barker graduated from Medical Lake High in 1974. He attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and returned to Spokane to work in the food service industry. He attended several Spokane churches. He was the English pastor for the Korean Presbyterian Church in Spokane from 1996-99, and was a member of a small home church that spanned 20 years of fellowship. He owned Sacred Works, a Chattaroy bookstore, and was committed to the interdenominational worship of The Choir of the Crown of Thorns. He and his wife, Jenny, had five children. He died Oct. 14 at age 58.

Irene Jeanette (Kulseth) Christensen worked as a telephone operator, schoolteacher, hotel auditor and Avon lady. Born in Williston, North Dakota, she married Ernest Christensen there in 1947 and they were married for 65 years until he passed away in 2013. They lived in North Dakota and Wyoming, and moved to the Spokane Valley to be near family in 1994. She died Oct. 23 at age 88.

Kenneth Lundy met his wife, Heather, at Expo ’74, and they were married in Hawaii. After working as a barber in various shops around town, he opened Mr. Ken’s Barber Shop in Hillyard about 35 years ago. He and Heather loved to hunt and fish all over – Mexico, Canada, Alaska and Lake Pend Oreille. He died Oct. 18 at age 72.

Following a long military career, Donald Reed worked as a bailiff in Superior Court. Born in Oklahoma, Don was a career military man, starting with seven years as an enlisted soldier in the Army and concluding with 15 years as an officer in the Air Force. Between those periods of service, he earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Oklahoma and a master’s at Gonzaga. He retired as a major and commander of the 92nd Supply Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base in 1982. He died Oct. 2 at age 79.

Donald Walker went to Seattle University on a ski scholarship and started working as a journalist at age 18, covering ski races for the Wenatchee Daily World. He worked as a stringer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in public relations for the University of Idaho, and as editor and director of public relations for Appaloosa Horse Club. He later became marketing director for the US Pea & Lentil Council, and then communications director for the Spokane Association of Realtors. He played tennis, and was a private pilot for 50 years. He died Oct. 12 at age 84, while listening to Frank Sinatra, watching the Seahawks and holding the hand of his wife, Dianne.

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or shawnv@spokesman. com. Follow him on Twitter at @vestal13.

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