Lois McKeirnan Sticklin passed away on July 20th at Providence Mt. St. Vincent in Seattle, Washington.
Lois is preceded in death by her husband Don Sticklin. She is survived, by two of her siblings, Leland McKeirnan and James McKeirnan and all seven of her children including Kurt Sticklin, Scott Sticklin, Karen Sticklin, Kathleen Scharrer, Paul Sticklin, Kelly Sticklin and Mark Sticklin. Her four grandchildren and two great grandchildren were truly her pride and joy. Her grandchildren are Jarret Sticklin, Annalisa Fish, Stephanie Scharrer and Jennifer Scharrer. Her two beautiful great grandchildren are Linus Sticklin and sister Posey Sticklin - the sunshine in her eyes in her later years.
Friends and family universally describe Lois as a force of nature, authentic, feisty, strong, resilient, fearless, a pillar of strength, independent, in a league of her own – she was an iconic McKeirnan girl.
Along with these strengths she also had a mischievous sense of humor and a smooth and beautiful laugh. She was quick with a quip and loved to share a good time with friends and family.
Born in 1929 on a wheat farm in Pomeroy Washington Lois grew up during the Great Depression followed by World War II. She was one of nine children. Lois’ resiliency must have been honed in this setting. Her mother and father, Isabel and Lester, who were successful wheat ranchers essentially lived off the land. Lois learned how to churn butter, make soap, preserve food, cook on a wood burning stove and prepare meals for a family of 11 plus a harvest crew. This upbringing was also the origin of her sense of fun. Her family also played hard! After the chores were done her dad would pile them in the back of the truck and dump the whole crew at the local swimming pool. Not to be left out, Isabel, her mom, also joined in the fun splashing and cooling off with her brood. In the winter the snow would get so high they would jump out the second story window of their ranch house into the drifts, until Lester put a stop to it. Then they would take turns using their one pair of skis to careen over the drifts that mounded over the fence tops!
Lois graduated from Pomeroy High School in 1947. She headed off to Washington State College where she had some of the best years of her young life. She was a good student and took to her schooling well. However after two years her father determined she had received adequate education for a woman, and she needed to get a job. Lois found a job as a secretary at the Hanford Nuclear Power Plant in nearby Richland, Washington. There she met her future husband, Don Sticklin, who was working as a fireman and taxi driver. They were married in Pomeroy and made their home in Richland, where they welcomed their first two children. Each Saturday morning, along with all the residents of Hanford, they were directed to leave a urine specimen on their front porch for collection by officials. They never knew why, but years later would learn the reason.
In 1954 they relocated to Centralia Washington where Don joined his family in running their funeral business, Sticklin Funeral Chapel, with buildings in Centralia and Chehalis. They settled into life there and had five more children. Together they built a new state-of-the-art funeral facility. Don was able to enjoy their accomplishment for one year before he became ill with acute myelogenous leukemia. He was diagnosed in March of 1975 and succumbed to the disease two months later in May. It turns out the samples collected at Hanford were to test for radioactivity, but results were never shared with residents until years later after his death.
Lois had to quickly pivot and figure out how to manage. She had six children still at home, with the oldest being in the US Army. While offers abounded to buy the business, she knew she needed to support her brood somehow, so she declined the offers and shouldered the responsibility herself. She studied for, and easily passed the Washington State Funeral Directors exam, becoming the first woman funeral director in the State. Things were coming full circle. Once again, her intellect and determination were serving her well. In hindsight it can also be said that she was a pioneer as a single mom, raising children, with a full-time career. But years later Lois would recall it was not until her last child left home, that she had the time to grieve her husband.
In 1997 she sold her successful business and moved to Bainbridge Island where her daughter Kathleen and son-in-law lived with their two children. She loved this new chapter and once again pivoted to embrace change in her life. Lois became an integral part of her daughter’s family on Bainbridge Island. She became an active community member and joined St. Cecelia’s Catholic church and served on the parish council. Lois was a devout Catholic and often attended daily mass and could be spotted at the rosary in the evenings.
Health related challenges presented themselves, and once again she pivoted, and relocated to Providence Mount St. Vincent in West Seattle where she could receive the support she needed from her new community. Daughter Karen was nearby and a great comfort and help to her during this time. Lois loved her many new friends at the Mount including residents and staff from all over the world. She took full advantage of the beautiful chapel by attending daily mass and the rosary.
Much has been made of Lois’ fierce spirit and sense of humor. But in her later years she evolved as she practiced and experienced the potent power of forgiveness and tolerance. Gracefully, she learned how to receive love and to say “I love you too” back to her family and friends.
Rest in Peace Lois McKeirnan Sticklin.
A private (due to covid restrictions) funeral mass will be held for family members at Providence Mount St. Vincent on August 4th.
The mass will be followed by a Reception to celebrate her life at noon at Salty’s Restaurant on Alki Beach in West Seattle. All are welcome and encouraged to come celebrate the life of this lovely lady!
A Graveside Service will be held at Claquato Cemetery in Chehalis on August 5th at noon.
In lieu of flowers please consider donating to the
Providence Mt. St. Vincent Foundation.
Foundation Office: 206.938.6194
- Care & Arrangements Entrusted to Emmick Family Funeral Home of West Seattle -