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Thelma Leota Thurston


Long time area resident Thelma Thurston died February 5 of age-related causes in Eugene, Ore. She was 94 years old.

Thelma was born on December 3, 1917, in Delrio, Wash., to Garnet and Wesley Rinker. She grew up on the family ranch, becoming a fearless and skilled horsewoman. With her uncle Sam Rinker’s encouragement, Thelma often jockeyed his horses in local races.

She graduated from Wenatchee High School in 1935 and then went on to Spokane to graduate from Morris School of Beauty and Culture in 1936. She worked as a beautician before marrying Bob Pendell on August 16, 1937.

Bob and Thelma made their home in the Rex area where they raised wheat and cattle. They had two daughters, Nichol and Monica. Bob Pendell died October 26, 1973.

Thelma married Bill Thurston on January 24, 1975 and moved from her ranch to Grand Coulee. She became a step-mother to Linda Wilson, Barbara Peter, Janelle Higgins, and Chuck Thurston.

Thelma quickly adjusted to the “town life”, but kept up her passion for gardening and the outdoors. She loved the company of friends and family. Anyone who came to her door was welcomed to stay for a meal. Thelma and Bill did a lot of traveling, first in their camper, then becoming Snowbirds and spending the winters in Yuma, Ariz. Bill passed away July 12, 2002.

In October 2006, Thelma moved to Eugene, Ore., to be near her daughter. She made the transition from her lifetime home with courage and determination and quickly made new friends in her retirement facility. As Thelma’s health failed, she faced her frailties with cheerfulness and grace. She was dear to the hearts of all who knew her and will be sorely missed.

Thelma lost her daughter, Monica, to cancer in 1992. She is survived by Nichol and husband Mark Rauch in Eugene; brother, Willard and sister-in-law, Sharon Rinker in Grand Coulee; grandson, Jared O’Neal and wife Elizabeth; and her two great-grandchildren, Tristan and Kyla in Gig Harbor, Wash.

A memorial service will be held at a future date.

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