Celebrating the life of Lila Lorene Van Matre
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Lila Lorene Van Matre, of Spokane, Washington, passed away peacefully at Riverview Memory Care Center on February 10, 2020. Lila was born on a ranch near the small town of Haigler in the southwestern corner of Nebraska on September 6, 1933 to Harry and Florence (Wiksell) Thompson. After the ranch began to fail due to the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, Lila’s parents moved the family to Twin Falls then Salmon, Idaho. She said some of her favorite memories as a child where riding horses in the hills around Salmon, and she would occasionally return with her husband to reminisce. She spent her elementary school years through ninth grade there before her dad, mom and baby brother (Jimmy), moved to Chattaroy, Washington where they built and ran a home/restaurant/gas station called, “The Pine Cone.”
Lila attended Riverside High School where she excelled in academics and majorette baton twirling. It was also there she met the love of her life, Jim Van Matre. They married right out of high school June 2, 1951 and enjoyed 66 years together before Jim’s passing almost two years ago. Lila attended college for a short time before starting a family…three sons and a daughter. Her husband’s jobs in teaching, coaching and school administration took them to Helix, Oregon, Washtucna, St. John, and finally Medical Lake, Washington. When her youngest child, Vicki, started first grade, she enrolled at Eastern Washington State College (EWSC) to finish her degree, majoring in Elementary Education. She taught third and fourth grades for 24 years in the Cheney School District (Sunset, Windsor and Betts Elementary Schools).
Lila retired from teaching in 1992 and she and Jim took numerous RV trips throughout the United States and traveled the world. When they weren’t traveling, she loved family gatherings at their lake home on Newman Lake.
Lila is survived by her children, Mike (Gayle), Chuck (Brenda), David (Marty) and Vicki (Evan), eight grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren and brother, Jim Thompson (Debbie).
The family will have a private memorial service at a later date. Memorial gifts can be made to Kindred Hospice.
I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I'd like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life if done.
I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I'd like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun,
of happy memories that I leave when life is done.
Helen Lowrie Marshall
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