Myrtle Shenefelt Richmond, 93, died Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, at WEL-Life Assisted Living in Kalispell where she had lived since February. She was the last of her generation.
She was born Sept. 14, 1926, on a farm near Fortine. Myrtle was the third child of Eva (Baillargon) and Francis Shenefelt, joining Harold and Esther. Two years later Helen joined the family. With her family, she lived all over Lincoln County at various small farms where Eva farmed while Francis worked as a gypo logger. The family also lived in logging camps where Eva cooked and Francis logged with his horses. Myrtle attended one-room schools and told stories of riding horseback (both she and Ester on one horse) to school. She graduated from Lincoln County High School in 1944, the first in her family to graduate.
The day after graduation, Myrtle took the train to Portland where she became a welder at the Portland Shipyards in Vanport, a town Kaiser Steel built for their workers. She helped build troop transports ships. When the war started slowing down, she moved to Seattle where she worked for the Port of Embarkation. She was there for V-J Day, which she said was a “wild day and night!”
After the war, Myrtle returned to Eureka and on Feb. 24, 1947, married Wayne Richmond. She had known Wayne as one of the Richmond boys who made more dishes for her to wash at camp. They had two children, Sharon and Terry, and were living in a logging camp when Wayne was recalled to active duty during the Korean War. While Wayne was gone, she purchased a house in Eureka with his GI loan. In 1960, a second son, Leon joined the family.
Myrtle and Wayne made their home in Eureka until 1979. Most of that time, she was a “stay-at-home” mom, making a welcoming home for family and friends. During that time, Myrtle joined the St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church; she became known as a good cook and decorated many wedding cakes. Later she started the Eureka Floral shop and taught ceramic classes. She was one of the first Weight Watcher leaders.
Wayne began working for the Burlington Northern railroad in Essex, coming home only on weekends. After a few years, Myrtle decided to join him there so she sold her shop. Myrtle got a job as cook at the Izaac Walton Inn. They later moved to Whitefish where she joined her sister Helen cooking at Meadow Lake golf course and other restaurants. She and her two sisters became known as the “Sisters Three.”
After retirement, Myrtle and Wayne became “snow birds” for three years, enjoying the sunshine in Arizona. When granddaughter Lizzie arrived in 1987, they decided they wanted to stay closer to family and moved to Kalispell. They became active in the Libby Dam Good Sams and enjoyed traveling, including trips to Illinois the East coast, and California to visit Leon’s family. They also made many trips to Glasgow to watch grandchildren, Tom and Eva in their many sports and on stage. They were there to cheer when John’s volleyball team became state champions.
Within the year and half after Wayne’s death in 2006, Myrtle lost her three best friends: her sisters Helen and Esther and sister-in-law, Ruth Burcham. This forced Mom to enter a new phase of life in which she had to be brave and step out on her own. She joined the Kalispell Senior Citizens where she played cards three times a week; she started water aerobics at The Summit; she became a ferocious reader, reporting the number read in her annual Christmas letter; she took trips to Glasgow and the Oregon Coast and enjoyed time at North Fork cabin. When Sharon and John moved to Eureka, Myrtle joined the Happy Hookers Prayer Shawl Ministry and crocheted 55 prayer shawls until her hands said enough. At 91, she started attending a writing class, which resulted in a little book of family stories.
Myrtle led quite an amazing life. Her family will always be thankful for the many lessons taught and much love she gave them. Her children, grandchildren and great-granddaughters have had quite a role model.
Myrtle was preceded in death by Wayne, her husband of 59 years; her parents Eva and Francis Shenefelt; sisters, Esther Paul and Helen DeLong; and brother Harold Shenefelt.
She is survived by daughter Sharon and husband John LaBonty of Eureka; and two sons, Terry and wife Jane of Kalispell, and Leon of Helena. Myrtle leaves five grandchildren, Tom LaBonty of Portland, Eva LaBonty and husband Greg Clensy of Glenbrook, Nev., Amber and husband Chris Mospan of Helena, Justin Richmond of Helena, and Liz and husband Tyler English of Kalispell; and four great-granddaughters, Anastasia Richmond, Ruby LaBonty, Molly Clensy and Riley English.
Memorial services will be held for Myrtle Richmond at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church in Eureka, with interment at the Tobacco Valley Cemetery. A potluck lunch follows at the Eureka Senior Center.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggest memorials be made to St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church or the Kalispell Senior Center.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Johnson-Gloschat Funeral Home and Crematory in Kalispell.