Reita Lou Wenberg

Reita Lou Wenberg

Reita Lou Wenberg

Reita Lou Wenberg, 81 years old, passed away peacefully on January 12, 2017 due to complications of advanced dementia.

Reita was born in Lead, South Dakota on May 24, 1935 to William K. and Ermangard L. Leman and spent her early years there playing with little sister, Janet, on their farm in Roubaix.   Her family moved to Seattle, WA when Reita was four to open Leman Motel on 1st Avenue South, now Highway 99.  She attended Foster and Highline High Schools while growing up.  She was a fun-loving, charismatic young person with a strong talent for art and was given a chance to design stage sets in high school, which she continued to do throughout her life for many large scale religious and local theater productions.

She majored in Art at Washington State College (before it was called WSU) where she trained in fashion design, among other subjects, later becoming an avid and prolific seamstress.  She loved the college life, serving as President of her Sorority and making many life-long friends.  Following college, she briefly worked as a technical drafter for her father and eventually for Boeing, where she met her future husband, Earl Wenberg.

In 1956, Reita and Earl married, started a family raising two daughters and found they enjoyed working on projects together, including building a speed boat and their beloved little house in the woods in Maple Valley, WA.  With a love for travel, the family enjoyed many happy camping and “road” trips in the U.S. and Canada.  Reita continued her love of travel in later life and visited a number of countries before she became ill.

Music was a big part of family life where Reita sang and Earl and Blythe played the guitar.  Always an enthusiastic Social Director, Reita loved planning big parties and events, “musicales” and field trips for her daughters and friends.  She also had a love for animals, enjoying the company of many pets including her favorite kitties, Benjy and Baby Kitty, as well as Bruce, the family’s beautiful tricolor collie.

With the birth of her only grandchild, Ian, she was very involved in his life and was a strong advocate in encouraging him to follow his passions and talents.  In her later years, Reita worked with her Maple Valley neighbors to protect nearby woodlands against development. Eventually her perseverance and tenacity paid off convincing King County to establish a park instead of an environmentally invasive housing project, all of which was captured with a front-page photo and article in the local Voice of the Valley newspaper.  Her mercenary and zealous efforts earned her the title “Grandma with a spray can.”

Reita is survived by her two daughters; Blythe Ferrel and Lynne Wenberg-Davidson, their husbands’ Pat Ferrel and Doug Davidson, respectively, and her beloved grandson, Ian Graves.  She will be so missed.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Dementia Society of America in Reita’s honor.

5 Responses to “Reita Lou Wenberg”

  • Suzie Avilla says:

    I loved Reita with all my heart, she made me laugh ! She was a second Mom to me and was always so helpful and lovable; she will be dearly missed. Rest in Peace, dear Reita, and we’ll see you again someday. Xx.

  • Heather Roberts says:

    Wishing you and your sister love, peace and sweet memories. I know it’s inevitable, but loss of a parent is tough, and I feel for you.

  • Joanie Iten Shelman says:

    I am very sad to hear of Reita’s passing. I loved her and looked up to her as a young 8th grader through many years of such wonderful memories. We were very close and I will always cherish our time together.
    I am so grateful that she passed peacefully.
    She had such talent artistically and in making us all laugh. I sent her the cd of Bette Midler singing Wind Beneath My Wings. It was my way of letting her know how much she meant to me.
    Rest In Peace my dear friend. I will be thinking of you.

  • Clif DeWitt says:

    I can’t begin to say how grieved I am to hear of Reita’s passing. She was one of the very most important parts of my life in my 20s.

    We had an unfortunate parting of the ways many years ago for reasons that seemed substantial at the time but were not justifiable to lose such an important person and close loved one from one’s life. We started somewhat of a rapprochement about six or seven years ago; we talked on the phone several times and we friended each other on Facebook about three years ago or so.

    I made a drive out to the old house several years back, the house where I really spent the best times and years of my young adulthood with Reita and Earl, Blythe and Lynne, Bruce the Dog and Lloyd the Cat… I didn’t know Reita wasn’t there. I saw a gentleman with a long beard at the house, and I wrote Reita that if that WERE she, she badly needed some electrolysis and/or estrogen treatment. That was the sort of things we’d say to each other all the time, but she didn’t answer. Piecing it together, Reita must have been ill at that time.

    I meant to reestablish our friendship but didn’t follow through. Not out of any animosity, but just thinking there was time. I, like many, tend to have tunnel vision when it comes to issues and concerns in my own life. When I read a note on Facebook that Reita sent to a friend mentioning dementia, I assumed there would be time and “I’ll get around to it.” It turns out that there wasn’t time. I didn’t know the extent of Reita’s illness, but it is no credit to me or excuse that I didn’t. I SHOULD have found out. And I am the poorer for not finding out. And now Reita is gone without a conclusion, without me verbalizing how important she was for me, and how I loved her despite our too-long partying of the ways.

    Reita was a brilliant, passionate, talented, empathetic, somewhat neurotic and occasionally infuriating wonderful and flawed person. She was human. And I think she would laugh if I told her that the world is a much quieter place now that she is gone.

    I have faith I will see her and Earl again and at that time perhaps I can mend some of the fences that should have been mended long ago. Blythe, Pat, and Lynn, I hope you can forgive my absence for so many years from your Mom. It may sound self-serving,–but truly I don’t mean it to be–to let you know I grieve with you.

    Life is so tenuous that if we need to mend fences, we need to do it IMMEDIATELY. Otherwise we may have regrets, the kind of which I attempted to describe above.——Clif

  • Blythe Ferrel says:

    Dearest friends
    Thank you so much for the condolences for Mom – it means so much. Mom was definitely bigger than life; she was everything you described and more.

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