On a cold February 3rd, 1925, Lorene Mae Eagle Fitzhugh was born to Stanley Forrest and Emma Karoline Eagle in Wilbur, Washington. She was the third of their four children, Art, Violet, and Verna. Lorene and her siblings grew up on a small farm outside of town, 6.5 miles south of Wilbur.
When the Great Depression hit their town as it did the rest of the country, their family never went hungry, as their farm provided what they needed, but not much else. The Eagles did not even have indoor plumbing until Lorene was a teenager. The girls rode to school on their horse, who waited in the school barn until the day was over. These years of making do with the little they had, made Lorene scrappy and strong. When her sisters got the mumps, Emma made Lorene miss a week of school and sleep between the two sick sisters in the hope that Lorene would get the mumps as well, to get it over with. But, as would become a pattern for Lorene, she would not be taken down so easily. She never got the mumps, despite the close quarters.
As when girls are scrappy and strong, Lorene grew up into a brave woman, a fighter, traits it seems like she willed into her DNA and left as an inheritance for the women who would come after her. As World War II burst into her life, when she was a teenager, she resorted to dating younger men because all of the boys her age were either soldiers who had enlisted, or 4F-ers, who, according to Lorene, were not worth dating due to their lack of brains.
She pursued bookkeeping classes after high school and was top of her class, which would prepare her for running her own beauty salon later in her life.
One day, in the middle of the war, Lorene decided to visit her older sister Violet in California, who had moved there to be closer to her husband who was fighting in the war. She was renting a room from a woman named Nora Fitzhugh. During Lorene’s visit, Nora’s son Ray, a young sailor, came home on a four day pass from San Francisco where he was stationed. His intentions to say a quick hello to his mother and then spend the weekend with the other sailors were instantly changed the moment he saw Lorene in the kitchen of his mother’s house. He stayed the whole weekend, and Lorene and Ray fell in love.
After his weekend, Ray returned to his ship where he eventually sailed into the Pacific, where Lorene wrote him constantly, 18-page letters that were so thick that when the mail from the past month was delivered, he could not keep up with them. He’d pass them around so the other soldiers would have something to read.
At another point, when Ray was stationed off the coast of Seattle, Lorene lived in Tacoma, where she had a severe reaction to the scarlet fever vaccine. She was quarantined, but recovered quickly, in true Lorene fashion.
In 1946, Lorene boarded a train in Washington and rode it—all alone—to San Diego. They were married in Yuma, Arizona, in the fall, with Lorene in a blue suit. They lived together in a boarding house in San Diego. Not long after their marriage, on June 12th, 1947, they had their daughter, Marcia Rae. Shortly after, they moved up the coast to Tule Lake, where Ray had leased a ranch and worked for the railroad. They made a life for themselves there, and Lorene received her first ever birthday present: a beautiful green dress from her husband. They had their son Steven Kenneth on October 10th, 1950.
The family moved around a lot those first few years, and eventually returned to Washington, where Lorene was a tough farm wife, a smart business woman, and a brave mother. She grieved the death of her parents in 1952, who were both killed at the same time in a car crash around Christmas time. In Deer Park, Washington, Lorene annihilated snakes with shovels, butchered chickens, scared away stray dogs, and kept the farm running. She went to beauty school and opened a salon where her daughter would come visit her after school. Although they did not have a lot of money, she made her daughter fashionable clothes. The two of them would pick out styles Marcy liked, and Lorene would sew them—without even needing to use a pattern.
After Deer Park, the family moved to Spokane, where Ray taught at Northwest Christian, where Marcy and Steve attended. In the late 1950’s, Lorene’s life and profession shifted again. She gave up her beautician business to become a pastor’s wife after Ray’s decision to become a pastor.
The family moved again in the late 1960’s to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where Marcy lived with the Fitzhugh’s new son-in-law, John Fearey. In 1970, her first grandbaby was born, Mark. Mark was shortly followed by Melissa, Matthew, and Melody. And this changed everything.
Lorene was a very involved grandmother. John and Marcy’s children loved her desperately, and spent many happy nights at her house. She hosted a Sunday lunch every week, and a breakfast dinner after the Sunday night service. She was very skilled at baking, and her recipes will go down as family staples forever: almond roca, pies, frozen fruit salads, glorified rice, double delights, banana bread, crescent rolls… and her huckleberry pies also remain a well-loved memory. She taught her grandchildren to bake, to knit, to be resourceful, and took them on trips during the summer.
She took up painting in the ’80’s, and was very prolific. She taught Mark how to paint in high school, and her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would take bits and pieces of this artist gene, as musicians, actors, writers, and painters. She showed us all how to see the world with gentleness and wonder, how to pay attention to those around us, and how to see with grace.
In 1986, Ray and Lorene moved to their land near Priest River, Idaho, when Marcy and John moved their family to Texas. They then moved to Ohio in 1987, and Mark lived with them while he studied at Ohio Bible College, where Ray taught. The Fearey’s followed in 1988.
In 1992, Ray and Lorene moved to Brewster, Washington with the intention of retiring. They wanted to live closer to Lorene’s younger sister Verna, and Ray’s family members as well. During this time, they traveled around, visiting their son Steve in Alaska several times for deep sea fishing and other adventures.
The Fearey’s, this time with an additional son-in-law in tow, moved back to Idaho in 1993. In 1994, Ray and Lorene decided they wanted to be closer to their grandchildren again. They moved to Boise in 1994, and lived briefly with John and Marcy.
Lorene took up yet another form of art—always so crafty and imaginative—and made incredible cross-stitch pieces for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, the first of whom was born in December of 1995.
Ray and Lorene lived their last segment of their life together, loving on their family in Idaho and Arizona. They were the first to hear about pregnancies (Lorene was at the hospital with Melissa when she found out she was pregnant with her first daughter, Alyssa), and engagements (woken up in the middle of the night by an excited Melody who had just gotten engaged to her boyfriend, Dave).
They moved into a mobile home in Boise, and became a vital part of the community there. Lorene spent her days babysitting great-grandchildren Alyssa and Abigail while their parents worked, playing cards and games with her daughter, grandchildren, and friends, walking her dog Emmie, and feeding the horses in the fields on Mitchell Road with Melissa and Alyssa. She loved to play Uno, Trionimos, Pinochle, and Tripoley (now all family favorites).
During this time, Ray worked for the Job Corps, and then started pastoring a church in Adrian, Oregon. Lorene became a pastor’s wife again, and spent her time serving and loving their community at their little church.
In 2011, on their way back from a trip to Arizona to visit Steve and their grandson Mark, Ray and Lorene were in a terrible car crash, after which Lorene’s mobility was never the same. In 2017, the two moved into Grace Assisted Living, and immediately made friends there as well. She loved to socialize, and visit with her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, especially loving to play Bingo with them. While at Grace, she fell and broke her hip, further impairing her mobility. She was incredibly strong and never gave up.
In July 2020, after the outbreak of COVID, Ray and Lorene moved into John and Marcy’s home, where Lorene remained so loved and taken care of while continuing to persist and participate in the family life. Even in her last days, she was involved with her family through constant prayer, until her death on February 8, 2023, at 6:07 pm.
Lorene is preceded in death by her parents Stanley and Emma Eagle, her brother Art, and her sisters Violet and Verna.
Lorene is survived by her husband Ray Fitzhugh, her children John and Marcy Fearey, and Steve Fitzhugh, and her grandchildren Mark Fearey and his wife Tori, and daughter Olivia, Melissa Stadtlander and her husband Jon, and their children Alyssa, Abigail and Nate, Matt Fearey and his wife Lori, and their children Hannah, Chloe, Jack, Luke, and Thea, and Melody Mitchell and her husband Dave, and their children Emma, Sam, Rose, Jasper, Karoline, and Jaden. She is also survived by her nieces Sandra and Gayle Eagle, and Penny Lewis, her nephew Kevin Eagle and Bill Sullivan, and their families.
Her service will take place at True Hope Collister, 4709 W State St, Boise, ID 83703, at 2pm. All are welcome to attend, and we look forward to celebrating Lorene’s life with you.