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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Shawn Vestal: A helicopter pilot for LBJ. A Harlem Globetrotters opponent. An expert on J.R.R. Tolkien. Recent obituaries share our stories.

Shawn Vestal (Dan Pelle / DAN PELLE)
Shawn Vestal (Dan Pelle / DAN PELLE)

One obituary is a portrait of an individual. Bring several together and you have a portrait of a place.

Recent obituaries in The Spokesman-Review tell stories of Air Force pilots, Kaiser steelworkers, homemakers, Eastern Washington University professors and racquet club entrepreneurs. The following was summarized from those obituaries.

Manuel “Manny” Brown was born in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi, in 1930, and graduated from high school in Vallejo, California. He had a lifelong love of basketball, and played against the Harlem Globetrotters in 1950. He enlisted in the Air Force after hearing an ad on the radio, and was eventually stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base. He and his wife, Emelda, raised three children primarily in Spokane. He retired from the Air Force in 1971, and embarked upon a 19-year career with Washington Water Power, as a foreman working on the construction of power substations. He and his family became closely involved with Calvary Baptist Church, where he was a Deacon Emeritus. He died Sept. 8 at age 89.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1959, Suzanne Staley Kelly moved to Everett with her husband, Mike, and worked as a systems analyst for Boeing for a decade. With their two children, they moved to Spokane in 1992, where Suzanne worked for Hallmark and Rockwood Clinic before retiring in 2009. She and Mike traveled extensively, visiting 44 states as well as the Bahamas and Barbados. She was active in her Summit Church prayer group, and volunteered at Mullan Road Elementary School. She died Aug. 31 at age 59, looking at the ocean in Lincoln City, Oregon.

Henry-York “Hank” Steiner, a pre-eminent J.R.R. Tolkien scholar and authority on all things “Lord of the Rings,” was an English professor and administrator at EWU for more than a half-century. Born in Chicago and raised in Portland, Steiner served in the Korean War and completed a bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College, a master’s from Yale and a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. He came to Eastern in 1968 as dean of undergraduate studies and went on to hold a wide range of positions at the school and helped establish many programs. His wide-ranging community service included sitting on the board of directors for Expo ’74 and helping establish the ski patrol at 49 Degrees North. He was named professor emeritus in June. He is survived by his wife, Lori, and three children. He died Sept. 6 at age 87.

Charles Thomas Bowman was born at Sacred Heart Hospital in 1957, and he graduated from Rogers High and attended Spokane Falls Community College. He was a steelworker at Kaiser Mead and worked at Travis Pattern & Foundry. His and his wife of 22 years, Elizabeth “Betsy” Ann Bowman, raised a daughter here. He died Sept. 8 at age 62.

Martha Magdalene “Marty” Overbust met her husband at a dance in Aberdeen, South Dakota, in 1953, and they were married the following year. They moved to Spokane and raised five children. She became well-known in school, church and community circles for her bags of goodies and holiday cookie boxes, and her home was a center for the kids’ friends. A fervent sports fan, she drove her late husband, Arlie Roy, crazy with constant TV and radio broadcasts of games. She died Sept. 15 at age 88 of cancer – which she called “a hitch in my giddy-up.”

Donald Foss was born in Jasper, Minnesota, and grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. While stations as a Marine in Jacksonville, Florida, he met and married Annie Belle Moore in 1946. Following a decorated 30-year military career, which including service as helicopter pilot for President Lyndon B. Johnson and as commanding officer of the Joint Air Reserve Station at Minneapolis-St. Paul, he and his family moved to Spokane in 1971. He and his wife built and ran the Central Park Racquet Club, and built the North Park Racquet Club. Don’s second retirement came at age 80 with the sale of the Central Park club. He remained an avid tennis player and outdoorsman, and particularly enjoyed pheasant hunting. He died Aug. 3 at age 98.

Shelby Jean (Cunningham) Hepton was born in Crandon, Wisconsin and moved to St. Maries, Idaho, in third grade. She married Fred in 1959, and they lived in Spokane Valley since, where they raised three children. She worked at Spokane Community College for 25 years, and accompanied Fred to Gonzaga basketball games and other sporting events. She considered her children and grandchildren her crowning achievement. She died recently at age 83.

Following a distinguished career that took him all over the world, John S. Satterthwaite Jr. retired in 1993 as a lieutenant colonel from a 25-year career as a pilot and flight instructor in the Air Force. A native of New Jersey, he moved to Spokane and embarked on a second career in financial services, primarily with Washington Trust Bank Investment Services, from which he retired as a vice president in 2014. He spent his spare time piloting skydiving planes, and took the leap himself in 2010. He is survived by two children and several grandchildren. He died of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 1 at age 72.

Lois Ann Martin grew up in East Butte, Montana, and worked at the historic Metals Bank for several years until she met her husband, a recently discharged Marine and aspiring mining engineer named Tom. They married in 1955 and eventually settled in Spokane in 1965, where they raised four children. Lois liked to bowl at Lilac Lanes and golf at Sundance; she was an active member of Assumption Catholic Church. When her children entered high school, she returned to work at Metropolitan Insurance Co. and Grange Insurance. She and Tom retired in 1992. She died Sept. 6 at age 89.

A lifetime resident of Spokane, Dennis Ray Young attended Roosevelt Elementary and Lewis and Clark High schools, working summers on the family farm in Ritzville. As an adult, he began raising a family and was a truck driver with the Teamsters Union. He married Judith, Sanders in 1976. Significant heart problems forced his retirement at age 64 in 2006, and he received a heart transplant the following year. He is survived by three children. He died Sept. 7 at age 76.

While growing up in Dubuque, Iowa, Madonna (Zahina) Peter became known for her soprano, and would often sing at weddings. She met her husband, John, among a group of soldiers who were hanging around her sister; they married, moved to Spokane and raised a family. John and a daughter, Joan, preceded Madonna in death. Madonna took care of the family, worked hard at home, and went to play bingo once a week. She was also employed as a waitress and cook. She died Sept. 2 at age 92. On her last birthday, she was asked her age. Madonna answered: “20.”

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