Lutie Wakefield 1921-2023

On September 10, 2023, Lutie Wakefield passed from this life to join her husband Jim, her parents, and siblings in heaven. Lutie lived a long, busy, and productive life. Lutie was born Lucy Juliet Dickson on May 15, 1921, to parents James Henry and Fanny Arvetta (nee Moore) Dickson. She has always been known as Lutie. Lutie was born on the Dickson homestead west and south of Vernon, joining four half siblings and five full siblings. Her father’s philosophy was “Idleness is a sin”. This propelled Lutie for her 102 years and 4 months.
Lutie, at an early age, had chores to do, milking the cow before school and helping her mother, Fanny, with the garden and cleaning.
When Lutie turned six, she began her schooling at Bunchgrass, the one-room school two miles from her home. Lutie and her brothers would walk, ride the horse, or drive the buggy to school.
Lutie graduated from Wray High School in 1939. That fall Lutie attended Colorado College in Greely to work toward a teaching certificate. She was granted her certificate in June 1941 and received a teaching job at the one room Garton school south of Wray.
On September 12, 1941, Lutie and Jim Wakefield, a handsome farmer from the Eckley area, eloped to St Francis, Kansas to be married. In 1943, after daughter Carol was born, they purchased the Emil Ebert farm located southwest of Vernon. There, while Jim took care of the farming; Lutie planted a big garden, added two more daughters (Barbara and Peggy), canned (including catsup that exploded turning the white ceiling tomato red), cooked on the cob burning stove, ironed with a flat iron heated on the stove, and sewed clothes with plenty of ruffles for her daughters. In the meantime, she took Correspondence courses to further her teaching degree.
In 1951 Lutie took a job teaching 3rd grade in the Eckley school. The family moved to a house across the street from the school. Another garden was planted, and indoor plumbing and a gas stove were great improvements in the life of the housewife/teacher. A cow was moved to Eckley along with a dozen chickens so fresh milk and cream were available for the butter churning and cottage cheese making, as well as fresh eggs.
Lutie taught from 1951 to 1972. She taught at the Eckley school and the Vernon school. She taught 3rd grade including her daughters Barbara and Peggy. When school enrollment decreased, grades were combined, and Lutie taught second and third or kindergarten and 1st grades.
With the correspondence courses and extension classes, Lutie continued her pursuit of a BA degree in education. She attended summer school in Greeley for two summers, and was awarded her bachelor’s degree in education in 1961, the culmination of 22 years of hard work.
Lutie taught for a total of 21 years. At the end of the 1971 school year, Lutie turned in her pencils, erasers and rulers and retired. Faced with the prospect of all that idle time, Lutie increased the size of her garden and continued the canning (without catsup), increased the pickles, freezing of veggies, cookies, and breads. She had always sewn clothes for her girls, three new outfits for each girl and a sweater with matching skirt for each Christmas. The girls were no longer at home, so she joined crafting groups, and now Christmas gifts became cute toaster covers that looked like cottages, kitchen towels, beautifully embroidered tea towels, pillow slips, “Quiet Time Books”, quilts for daughters and great-grand babies, and paintings. Lutie liked to participate in the local craft shows and talk with other crafters and renew friendships.
Lutie was an excellent cook. We hosted many Sunday dinners with friends and family. She would search for a new Jello recipe, or a dessert to try. Her dinner roll recipe was taught to her by her mother, Fanny, and used potato water and potatoes, a technique never replicated by this daughter. Her family joked about the fact that she could make anything from zucchini, including ice cream!
Lutie missed teaching. She especially enjoyed helping the beginners’ reading skills. She volunteered at the Wray elementary school to help with the reading programs. She touched the lives of the many children who came through her classrooms in Eckley, Vernon and Wray. She was so proud of their accomplishments and successes in their lives. It gave her great pleasure to hear a student say, “Hi, Mrs. Wakefield”.
Lutie was a firm believer in the WRAC. She enjoyed water therapy there for 20 years. She walked a mile every day on the farm and continued that goal at the WRAC after moving to town after her husband, Jim, passed. She had fun participating in the walking challenges at the WRAC. Lutie learned Yoga and how to use some of the exercise machines. Even while she was living at the Towers, she “walked the fence” as weather permitted.
Music was a large part of Lutie’s life. She would sit down at the piano and start playing. Soon the whole family was there singing along. She made sure that her girls had lessons to learn to play the piano (one success, two, not so much). The piano was the entertainment when she was growing up.
Lutie enjoyed traveling. She and Jim traveled to the Federal Land Bank conventions when Jim was on the board. They took family vacations when the girls were small, including trips to Washington state, the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, and Mesa Verde. After the girls had all moved away, the trips were for Christmas, to meet new grandchildren, for weddings, anniversaries, for good-byes and for good times…. Lots of Good Times.
Lutie was raised in the Methodist Church and her religion guided her life. She began and ended each day by reading her Bible. She participated in and led many Friendship Bible classes. She was a member of the Methodist Women’s Club. She helped with organizing the Church library and was part of many other Church projects. She donated to scholarships for helping young Methodists go to college.
Lutie loved reading, swinging on her swing, and beating her husband, Jim, at UNO. Sunday night was letter writing to daughters, sisters, and friends.
One hundred and two years is a long time, but it shows how much a person can accomplish without a TV, computer, or a smart phone.
Lutie is survived by three daughters, Carol Blatnick of Bayfield, Barbara (Gilbert) Cerise and Peggy (Bill) Porter of Renton, WA, grandchildren, Lara Blatnick of Denver, Andy (Jessica) Blatnick of Mesa, AZ, Katy (Brad) Gagne of Earlham, IA, Gil (Kristina) Cerise and Corey Cerise of Seattle, WA, Darcie (Matt) Farrow of Albuquerque, NM, and Doug (Gina) Porter of Sumner, WA. Eight great-grandchildren who also survive her are Meghan Olson, Amy and Abby Blatnick, Taylor Porter, Colin and Caitlin Cerise and Eric and Thomas Farrow.
A Visitation will be held on Friday, September 15, 2023 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Schmidt-Jones Funeral Home in Wray, Colorado.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 am on Saturday September 16 in the United Methodist Church in Wray, Colorado with Pastor Lisa Nordan officiating.
Interment will be at Glendale Cemetery in Vernon following the services.
Memorials may be made in Lutie’s honor to the WRAC, EYCHS, Wray United Methodist Church and the Wray Public Library.
Schmidt/Jones Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.