Althea Mae Studebaker Spencer Obituary
On February 11, 2019 our family matriarch, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother & great-great grandmother, Althea Mae Studebaker Spencer passed away in Vancouver, WA., at age 94, where she resided at Noble Adult Family Home facility. Alzheimer's took a precious and fiercely independent woman and left us with a different individual. God and Heaven restored her to the family members she lost and back to the person we knew.
Devoted Christian, mother and humanitarian, she always put others first. Born in Eatonville, WA on November 30, 1924, to Laura Katherine Leeper Studebaker and Jake Studebaker, the first of two children. Not a lot is known about her early years, as she and her father, Jake, moved often. He was trying to find mother's brother, Jack and Laura Katherine who had left due to abuse. Our mother was drug around the country, with Jake finally leaving her with his mother. She never knew what happened to brother Jack until adulthood reunited them. As time went on she and her grandmother Studebaker ended up in Moscow, Idaho because times were tough and work could be found sorting peas and sewing sacks. Mother attended elementary and secondary school, then her four years of high school at the Ursuline Academy, all in Moscow. Mother and grandmother lived in the same area of Moscow as our father's parents and they proceeded to meet and date while mother attended Ursuline Academy. Our father worked at the Army Cavalry stables and gave riding lessons to the young ladies of the Academy. In spring 1941, dad, Clyde W. Spencer, found work as a machinist at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, where after the start of WWII, he helped rebuild five of the six surviving battleships of Pearl Harbor. Upon graduation from Ursuline Academy, our mother left, by train, to marry our father later that day, in Bremerton. Dad's two friends were witnesses, giving an iron and toaster as gifts for the new bride and groom.
With our Nation at war, a vast number of Americans sacrificed and devoted their lives to the war effort. Both of our parent's priority was helping their country and moving forward. Father helped rebuild the Pacific Fleet and mother began spotting, counting and identify airplanes for the Army while living at Hansville, WA. As millions of other Americans, their lives centered around the war. By March 1943, their first child, Louise was born. Returning to Moscow in 1945, they welcomed their second daughter, Karen, to the family in April. Settling back into the Troy, Idaho area where our father's grandparents homesteaded, a third daughter, Rita, joined her sisters in September 1947. Having a rough childhood of her own, mother dedicated her life to God and family. Faith carried her through adversity, the first being the death of her second child, Karen, age five. Our mother, living in the country alone while dad was away working where jobs could be found, headed to town. Gathering up her three daughters, being seven months pregnant with their first son, David, errands had to be done. Almost to town, pulling over for traffic and being spring weather, the soft road shoulder gave way under the narrow tires of the vehicle. It tipped over, ejecting Karen, causing her death. Imagine, mother with three little children, pregnant, alone, husband working far away, and now, grieving.
Time and mother's faith helped in moving forward, but she never drove for 25 years, until after the death of her husband and the need of independence. Life continued on, as we resided in many houses in the Troy area, but finally called a big two story dwelling, home, in 1960. By then, three more children were born. David, March 1951, John, October 1952 and last, Katherine, November 1953. Being the only house our parents ever owned, it was truly home. All five remaining children were raised there, attending and graduating from the Troy schools.
Adversity again struck in 1965, our father being diagnosed with cancer. With Louise and Rita married, the remaining family was plunged into seven years of surgeries and radiation treatments, with father passing away in May, 1972. Dad was the focal point of the family, his grandparents had homesteaded East of Troy, and both his parents living in town. True to her belief of family being held together, she was the bond during those tough times. David was married, Katherine soon to be and John received his Army draft notice. Mother, now a widow, was alone to pay a mountain of medical bills because cancer had no insurance coverage. Headstrong and independent she proceeded with arrangements at doctors and hospitals to make ethical payments. Keeping the only home our parents ever owned was very important to her. She remained in the home, worked hard and payed medical bills for almost a decade, until selling the home in 1979.
She learned to drive again around 1974, sensing the need for it. After selling her home and leaving the employment of the Moscow School District, she moved to Coulee Dam, WA, becoming the assistant city clerk. Then to Zillah, WA becoming head city clerk. Back she came to Moscow, going to work for W.S.U's office of S.E.S.R.C., in Pullman. Mother never truly retired, being a superb cook, seamstress, tax accountant and devoted Moscow Church of the Nazarene member, she kept busy with projects and grandchildren.
With the onset of Alzheimer's, selling her place in Moscow and moving into Good Hope Home Care facility in Pullman for Alzheimer's care, was necessary. She loved the facility being operated by very caring ladies. When daughter Rita retired from W.S.U. in 2016, mother moved with Rita and husband Ken to Vancouver, WA, closer to their two daughters, Laura and Kendra. Rita located Noble Adult Family Home for mother and again, mom received loving care from Maggie Tarcus. Suited to just a few residents, she adjusted well as the Alzheimer's advanced, remaining there until her passing.
Our mother was devoted to God, family and community, with that and much more instilled to her family. Adversity tried, but never took her faith. She always knew there was a light at the end of the everlasting tunnel. Devoted parents and a loving home far outshined the fact that we had very few material items as children. They spent their lives caring for us. Who can ask for more than being fed, warm, clean, educated and loved.
Mother was preceded in death by daughter Karen (1950), husband Clyde (1972), daughter Louise Logsdon (2004), son-in law Anthony Logsdon (2017), daughter Rita Koontz (2018) and daughter-in-law Joyce Spencer (2018). Mother Laura Katherine Cyr (1998), stepfather Joe Cyr (1971), father Jake Studebaker, brother Jack Cyr (2016), father and mother-in-law Jesse (1985), Mabel Spencer (1981), and great-grandson Kenneth Jey Buno (2001).
She is survived by children: David Spencer, John (Marlene) Spencer and Katherine (Richard) Burnham. Grandchildren: William (Tammie) Logsdon, David John (Sabrina) Spencer, Cassandra (Peter) Van Steyn, Laura (Jey) Buno, Andrew (Jody) Koontz, Kendra (Luke) Bizeau, Cynthia (Luis) Ortiz, Melissa (James) Segota, Alanna Spencer and Audra Spencer, 23 great-grandchildren & 2 great-great-grandchildren. Also surviving is son-in-law Kenneth Koontz and half-sister Betty Jean Tjoelker.
The word "Mother" has so many meanings that it would take a huge resume' to show all the attributes of one person. Never did her love, dedication, faith and caring diminish towards family, friends and community. God and Heaven has received her, family is reunited and a magnificent job on earth, is finished. Well done Mother, rest in peace.
When time and weather allows, a memorial service for our mother will take place. Most likely at the Moscow Church of the Nazarene where she enjoyed so much of her time. Notices will be placed in the appropriate newspapers.
Short’s Funeral Chapel of Moscow has been entrusted with arrangements, and online condolences may be sent to www.shortsfuneralchapel.net.