Loretta May Cook, 89, of Keating passed away on March 21, 2020 at her home. A memorial service will be held at a later date, time and place to be announced.
Loretta was born on March 25, 1930 to Harvey Blair and Irma VerHaege in Baker City, Oregon and was the tenth of twelve children. She graduated from St. Francis Academy in 1948. She is survived by her husband of 59 years, Elton Gerald Cook, her son, Michael Cook (and his wife Cathy Cook) and daughter, Cindy Lenhart (and her husband Clark Williams). She has four grandchildren, Travis Cook (and his wife Krista), Cody Cook (and her husband Tom Jury), David Lenhart (and his wife Becca), and Whitney Lenhart (and her partner Trevor George) and five great grandchildren, Nathan, Leah, Beckett, Paxton, and Hartleigh. She is also survived by her sister, Jeanette Beck, her brother, Al Delepierre, and numerous nieces and nephews who knew her as Aunt ‘Retta’.
In 1966, when the kids were 5 and 6 years old, the family took a pack trip into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Loretta didn’t enjoy the horse ride in but loved the mountains and high lakes. She traveled with her family to almost every named lake that had a horse trail in the wilderness over the next 15 years. When her son Michael started hunting at age 10, Loretta started as well because she wasn’t going to stay home. Over time she took many deer, elk, and a few antelope with her open site 300 lever action rifle, often with only one shot. She loved to argue with Elton about what tree or wide spot in the road to sit on a stand while the rest of the hunting party made the walk around.
Loretta retired from Oregon Trail Electric Coop in 1997 after 36 years. She enjoyed being retired and is best known for her amazing wood carvings and paintings. Her talent for creating and bringing birds and nature to life made her artwork collectors’ items. She taught herself and spent many hours honing her abilities including carving ducks of all kinds, life-sized pheasants, quail, owls and hawks. Every Christmas season she would carve a Santa Claus partaking in a certain activity that was meaningful for her family that year. She would gift one to each of her children and are a special reminder of family memories. Her other hobbies included camping, fishing, reading, and being with her family. Loretta’s grandchildren remember her teaching them card games, especially solitaire, on summer camping trips and how she would pick up a toy or trinket at least once a week on the way home from work in town for her dear grandchildren. Cody Cook especially remembers when grandma would encourage her to test her balance on the carpeted spindle Loretta used as a foot stool at her house. Cody quickly learned to walk the spindle back and forth in the living room to earn spare change from her grandmother. Over the last several years Loretta especially loved to visit with her great grandchildren. It could be making pies, playing with toys, or eating fresh fruit from the trees in the yard; Loretta took immense joy in sharing life with these little ones.
She was immeasurably proud of her family and leaves behind nothing but beautiful memories. She will be deeply and greatly missed just as she was deeply and greatly loved.
For those who would like to make a donation in memory of Loretta the family suggests "Hunt of a Lifetime" through Tami's Pine Valley Funeral Home and Cremation Services, PO Box 543, Halfway, Oregon 97834. Online condolences can be shared at www.tamispinevalleyfuneralhome.com
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