LOLA DARLENE VESTAL(SWAIM) WAS BORN IN GEUDA SPRINGS, KANSAS ON DECEMBER 7, 1929. SHE DIED ON APRIL 24, 2021 IN LACEY, WASHINGTON.
Lola Darlene Vestal, 91, took her last breath to the Hallelujah chorus, which she dearly loved, on April 24, 2021 at Panorama Convalescent Center in Lacey, Washington. She was born on her maternal grandparents’ farm in Geuda Springs, Kansas December 7, 1929 to James Tilman and Lucy Mae (Shadwick) Swaim. Growing up during the Great Depression, the oldest of 7, Lola knew poverty. She has fond memories of spending a few weeks each summer on her grandparents’ farm when she was young and working at her Aunt Ruby’s bakery as a teenager. She and her cousin, Raymond, learned they could eat a pie if they dropped it so they orchestrated doing this frequently.
Pearl Harbor was bombed on her 12th birthday and two years later Lola quit school, moved out of her family home, and got a job because she was tired of doing without and going hungry. She has always been determined. She got a job at a candy store and one of her customers, a police officer, taught her to drive. Later she worked as a waitress in Wichita, where she met Charles Duane Vestal. They married in 1949 at his grandparents’ farm in Lovewell, Kansas. Their son, Randy was born in June of 1952 and their daughter, Terri was born in May of 1953. Six months later, they left Wichita for the planned city of Longview to join his parents.
Never afraid to work, having been a soda jerk and a riveter in addition to her other jobs, Lola began to work in the Box Plant of the Longview Fibre when most moms stayed home. She desired to give her children a nurturing, comfortable childhood. Desiring to retrieve her lost education, she attended night school to earn her high school diploma. She wanted to set an example for her children and not take the shortcut of a GED. In 1972, she achieved her goal while Terri was in college and Randy was in the Air Force. In the meantime, she also worked her way up to the Accounting Department and onto the Executive Office at Fibre. After 31 years she retired to pursue her dreams. A life long learner, Lola believed in affecting change and contributing to a broad community. She was appointed Chairperson of the Deacons at the Longview Community Church, became a Mary Kay beauty consultant, joined the Toastmistress Club to gain confidence as a speaker, became an active political enthusiast, and wrote letters to the editor and politicians. Her proudest achievement was earning her B.S. in Humanities from WSU when she turned 70.
Lola loved music, attended the Portland Jazz Festival yearly, and could Name that Tune in one note. She loved Jeopardy, C-Span and Book TV. Her music collection and books were her prized possessions. She had a generous spirit and when she found a book she loved, she would buy it for friends and family members. She enjoyed silent retreats and one time walked on hot coals. When her husband, Duane died, she moved to the tiered community of Panorama in Lacey to be closer to the capitol, friends and relatives. She belonged to the Pan Writing Group and always loved intellectual stimulation. At 91, she still cared about her appearance and dressed impeccably. She aged gracefully and tried to prepare her family for when she exited the stage. However, she did not like losing her independence particularly during the Pandemic and being isolated from her family who she loved above all else.
She is survived by her son, Randy, daughter, Terri; 3 grandchildren, Allen & wife Mary, Jason & wife, Bree, and Lisa & husband, Donny; 8 great grandchildren, Taylor & Logan (Allen), Maddox & Hadley (Jason), and Austin, Malia, Myah, and Walker (Lisa); sister, Lois Agee of Dodge City, Kansas. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Duane, and her 5 siblings: Jean, C.D., Ruby, Preston, and Nita of Kansas.
Her Celebration of Life will be at Steele Chapel on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Viewing at 10:00 a.m., service at l:00 p.m., followed by mausoleum crypt placement and reception at Longview Memorial Park.