Cover photo for Mardette Arlene Lewis's Obituary
Mardette Arlene Lewis Profile Photo
1931 Mardette 2021

Mardette Arlene Lewis

February 4, 1931 — December 15, 2021

Mardette Lewis passed into the arms of Jesus on December 15, 2021.  She passed peacefully surrounded by her family at her ranch on Selle Road. 

A Memorial service will be held Friday, February 4th at 2 p.m. at the Coffelt Funeral Chapel on Division Street, Sandpoint, Idaho with Dale Coffelt officiating.

Mardette’s story begins on February 4th, 1931 when she was born in her family’s farmhouse in Platte County, Nebraska to parents Roy and Lorena Johnson during a cold Nebraska blizzard.  On the same day, baby piglets were born and kept warm in a Monarch stove’s warming oven.  Can you guess where baby Mardette was also placed to keep warm?  Once a country girl, always a country girl!

Wherever her family moved, her parents immediately located a church home and the nearest library.  Both were incredibly important to her and her family, Church because she and her sister were reared loving and trusting in the Lord and the library because she was a real bookworm.  Mardette especially liked horse and dog stories like the Oz books and novels by Grace Livingston Hill.  As a small child she loved it when her dad, Roy, let her sit on the Percheron team, King and Bob. 

As an avid reader, Mardette did well in school.  She enjoyed playing cornet and trumpet in the school band, marching as a Majorette, participating in school plays with the Girl’s Glee Club, cheering for the Madison Dragons as a cheerleader through Pep Club and was voted homecoming queen.  She also had the honor of earning the Salutatorian ranking of her graduating class.  She also had many suitors and enjoyed ice skating, hiking, riding and dancing.

 During the summers she enjoyed the local Thoroughbred racing circuit, the horses, trainers and maybe a particular dark-haired exercise boy!  She bought her first horse with money she saved.  He was big and black, with a tendency to rear and run fast… she called him Dynne (short for dynamite).   She dealt with him like a confused child, he quit his bad-habits and they became a team.

When Mardette graduated from high school, she immediately went to work as a teacher in a one-room rural school house on a special teaching certificate at the mere age of 17.  Her oldest student was only a year younger than she was.  By the end of the first week she was totally overwhelmed and frustrated.  Sure enough, in a short time her imagination and creativity took over, along with a lot of prayers and midnight oil to smooth the way.  By the end of the first month she knew this would be her life’s work.  She began to custom design an effective teaching program for her students.  She organized a system for the multiple roles she had to fill.  There were many wonderful memories of the students and the school despite the challenges of tornados and blizzards.

A model ‘A’ Ford named ‘George’ was Mardette’s wheeled transportation.  George was frequently repainted to celebrate holidays or Mardette’s school colors.  She loved the mountains so she moved west and enrolled in Colorado A & M in Fort Collins, Colorado.  She also attended classes in Greeley where she met David Lewis.  They married in 1957 and started their family near Dave’s parent’s farm.  In 1961 on a summer trip to Canada, they passed through Sandpoint.  Dave saw the hunting and fishing potential, Mardette was drawn to the mountains, the lake and City Beach, NO dangerous snakes and No tornados!  Soon after, the move from Colorado to Idaho was made with three little children, several dogs, a yearling filly and whatever the ‘spud truck’ could haul.  The fourth Lewis child was born in Sandpoint.

Mardette jumped back into teaching on Sandy’s 1st birthday.  Sandpoint was her forever home with the exception of 1963 and 1967 when the family moved to Cheney, WA to attend EWU, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Education.  Mardette was a Chapter One educator so she taught in almost every elementary school in Bonner County over several decades.  She touched hundreds of student’s lives; she genuinely cared about each and every one of them.

The years of involvement with 4-H horse clubs filled the summers with fun.  Mardette, Sharon Finney and others would outfit the club members with a ‘theme’ for the Fourth of July parade.  It was always over-the-top, winning many of the Grand Prize awards.  4-H practices, clinics, shows, district competitions kept her busy.  She even found time to ride her own horses Doc, and Valor and raise several Arabian, and part Arabian foals.  Watching the Scottsdale All Arab and Nationals in Albuquerque were huge highlights for her.  Patrick Swayze on his stallion Tammen was always a favorite and having a hug and her picture taken with Patrick was extra special!

In 1973 Mardette and family joined the First Christian Church.  She became very active in the church band, singing in the choir, participating in the Living Christmas Tree and the Easter Program year after year.  She especially loved to help with the Church plays and loaned costumes from her extensive collection.

Her final home was 10 acres on Selle Road surrounded by her friends, family, horses, dogs, cats, pygmy goats and Percy the parakeet.  Any stray animals were always welcome on her ranch.

Mardette was preceded in death by her parents Roy W. Johnson, Lorena D. (Hoare) Johnson, her sister Lois Westfall, her ex-husband David M. Lewis, and nephews Tom, Brent and Mike Westfall.  She is survived by her children, Kim Cox (Donald), Dan Lewis (Ellen), Jack Lewis, of Sandpoint and Sandy Seagle (Bradley) in Virginia, eight grand-children and seven great-grand children.

The family suggests that memorials be made to Better Together Animal Alliance 870 Kootenai Cut-Off Rd, Ponderay, ID  83852; phone number 208-265-7297.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mardette Arlene Lewis, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Friday, February 4, 2022

Starts at 2:00 pm (Pacific time)

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