Lola Orris Ritter Bowen Stancil was born next to the Opera House, when there was an Opera House, in Bucoda, Washington, on Jan. 31, 1915, to Lester Ritter and Clara Lenora …
Lola Orris Ritter Bowen Stancil was born next to the Opera House, when there was an Opera House, in Bucoda, Washington, on Jan. 31, 1915, to Lester Ritter and Clara Lenora Davis Ritter. She joined one older brother, Kenneth and three older sisters, Verda, Nerna and Emma. Shortly after she was born, the family returned to the Skookumchuck Valley where Lola was raised on the family ranch where her father was an independent rancher.
Her early memories include many things. Some of her memories included World War I and her uncle Floyd Ritter coming home from the war. She remembered surviving the famous Spanish Flu when she was about 3 years old. She also saw people in the street in Centralia wearing masks over their faces so they would not get the Spanish Flu. Lola spent many hours of her childhood sitting on the front porch rocking with her little brothers and singing along with the Victrola. She remembered all the songs and poems she learned as a child. Lola attended Stoney Point School and Tenino High School.
She was the fourth generation that lived in Skookumchuck Valley. Lola was a descendant of the Sidney and Nancy Ford Family who settled on Ford’s Prairie in the Centralia area in 1846.
Lola rode in a horse drawn school bus. If an airplane was heard overhead, the entire school got to run outside to see the plane fly overhead.
Lola married Reece Bowen in 1931 during the depression. Lola worked for the cannery in Olympia and Reece built a log house. They improved it as their family grew.
They had twin daughters, Reola and Leola. Eighteen months later, one of the twins, Leola died. Lola and Reece had two other daughters, Connie and Renée.
There was a boom in California and in 1948, the family moved to Humboldt County. Lola was involved in PTA as president of the grade school, then of the big high school and then became involved in the state PTA representing the 22nd district as various chairmen. She was a 4-H Leader.
Reece and Lola returned home to Washington and took employment with the Washington State Youth Development and Conservation Corp (YDCC). They were the mom and pop to over 600 boys ages 16 to 21 years old. The YDCC was a program where every six weeks 12 boys arrived at camps in state parks to expand the parks.
Reece died in 1971 after a lengthy illness. They had celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.
In the 1970s, Lola went back to college and later sold real estate. She also taught gourmet cooking classes at Centralia College.
There was a life changing event for Lola when the bicentennial wagon train came through Tenino. She rode it one day and wanted to continue going eastward on the pilgrimage across to Valley Forge. It took six months of 1975 and six months of 1976.
Gov. Daniel Evans appointed her as the official representative for the state of Washington. She took her old leather bound book. People across the U.S. signed it, including President Gerald Ford in the Oval Office. Mrs. Ford had signed it earlier in the Midwest.
Lola traveled to Korea with the Friendship Force, a people-to-people exchange. She had visitors from Korea, Taiwan and Germany.
Lola married Clarence Stancil in 1985. Clarence liked horses and Lola liked covered wagons. It was a perfect match. They went on the John Wayne Trail by covered wagon on their honeymoon.
In 1989, they were the wagon masters for the centennial of the state of Washington. The wagon train went from Fort Vancouver to the end of the trail in Tumwater. Thousands of people were involved. They also were wagon masters for the 1995 wagon train. Lola published a cookbook titled “From the Back of the Wagon” and sold out two printings.
Lola and Clarence lived on the ranch that Lola has owned since 1939.
It was a working horse ranch and they raised Fjord horses and Clarence trained the huge Percheron horses.
Lola was a docent at the executive governor’s mansion for 32 years and awarded emeritus status.
Lola was a lifetime member of Skookumchuck Grange. She was one of the oldest members. The Grange Hall was built the same year Lola was born in 1915.
Lola was recognized as the oldest member of the Washington state retirement system.
The family says Lola has been their inspiration, our foundation, and our north star. She is the pride and joy of the family. Lola was a wise woman and was always the “Google” before there was an internet. All of her grandchildren have cooked with her and have learned.
Lola is survived by a grateful family that include daughters Connie Bowen Barlow and husband Johnny Barlow, of Olympia, and Renée Bowen Corcoran of Olympia. She is preceded in death by Reola Robinson. Jack Robinson, of Olympia, survives Reola.
She is also survived by grandchildren Kim and Becky Robinson, Dain Robinson, Lete and Lisa Robinson, John Barlow Jr, M’Lee Barlow, Lavay Odems, Reola and Marty Loomis, and Brennan Corcoran.
Lola is survived by nine great-grandchildren, as well as numerous great-great-grandchildren and great-great-great-grandchildren. She is survived by many nieces and nephews plus a wealth of friends.
A service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at the Forest Grove Cemetery, 8011 Northcraft Road SE, Tenino, Washington, 98589. There will be a gathering after the service at the Skookumchuck Grange for a Tea Luncheon.