Lula Gardner a 107-year-old pioneer of the Loomis – Tonasket area passed away on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 after a brief illness. She was born August 4, 1906 at the family home on Sinlahekin Creek near Loomis, Washington.
Lula was the youngest of seven children born to Robert A. Garrett a native of North Carolina and Mary Ellen (Brown) Garrett of Oregon. Lula was raised with two sisters, Elva Garrett – Rainey and Neva Garrett – Webster and also two brothers Raleigh James “Doc” Garrett and Bert Raymond Garrett . She also had a sister, Rita, and a brother Robert Linton who died in infancy. All were born in the 1890’s except for Lula, the baby.
In 1906 when Lula was six-months-old the family home burned down forcing them to move several times until finally settling up Horse Spring Coulee in 1912. Her father gave School District 77 permission to build the “Bungalow School” for grades one through eight on a corner of his property. This is where Lula and her siblings received their education. Lula also learned to work in the garden, with livestock, set groundhog traps, ride horses and help out on the family farm. It was hard work but she loved it. She attended school with, went on horseback rides with, and later married the son of their closest neighbor, Samuel Richard “Dick” Burbery.
Lula and “Dick” were married Aug. 20, 1924 when Lula turned 18. In those days you could marry the same day you got your license, so Dick and Lula drove from Loomis to the courthouse in Okanogan, got a license and then stopped to see Reverend Pugh in Omak on the way home and got “hitched.”
They made their home on the Burbery family ranch and over the next ten years added four sons and three daughters to their family; Harold Richard was born in 1925; Ellen Grace 1926; John Leslie 1927; Iris May 1929; Charles Glen 1930; Robert Lloyd 1932 and Katherine Joy 1934. It was hard work raising a large family. They didn’t have the luxury of an indoor bathroom, telephone or electricity until the 1940’s. It meant a big garden, lots of canning, overalls to mend, socks to darn and shoes to patch. All four sons served in the military and all seven children eventually married and raised their own families.
After the kids left home they sold most of their milk cows; raising chickens, sheep, hay and a much smaller garden with the help of kids and grandkids. In 1972 Lula and Dick went to England where Dick’s family had originated. They were able to see the old family homes, farms and English gardens, as well as meet extended family. Three months after returning home and after 48 wonderful years of marriage Dick passed away on Aug. 30 due to a stroke.
In December of 1973 Lula moved into Tonasket where she met and later married Chett Gardner on Aug. 20, 1974; this date would have been Dick and Lula’s 50th wedding anniversary. She said it worked so well the first time she would try it again. Lula and Chett enjoyed each others company. He taught her how to drive and they loved to travel. They saw the Rain Forest, went to Alaska, and made a trip to Missouri. They spent most of ten winters in Quartzite, Ariz. until a storm destroyed the home there. In 1983 they settled permanently in Tonasket. Three days after Lula’s 85th birthday Chett passed away on Aug. 7, 1991 just short of their 17th wedding anniversary.
Lula wanted to make one last trip; so with daughters Ellen and Joy and her granddaughter Barbara, they went to North Carolina to visit her dad’s relatives. They saw tobacco fields, dairy farms, and met lots of family; but the best part of the trip was to visit the still standing family home where her dad was raised and have a picnic lunch there. A fantastic trip! She kept in touch with the family and some came to her 100th birthday celebration as well as others.
About 20 years ago the Burbery family members began celebrating Lula’s birthday in the Tonasket City Park. They did this right up through last year when she had her 107th; the park being one of the few places big enough to gather. She looked forward to each year when she could visit and see everyone, especially “the little ones” wearing a big smile and clapping her hands. Lula had an amazing memory and was happy to share her tales and history of the family with anyone who wanted to listen. Family and friends were of the utmost importance to her and she knew each and every one of them. She just loved life itself. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and was the only mother her family knew that was still able to tell her kids what to do even though they are now all in their 80’s! She was a “Grand Ole’ Lady.”
With the help of her children, Lula remained in her home in Tonasket until just before her 105th birthday when after a brief illness she made her new home at the North Valley Nursing Center in Tonasket. Here she was visited by groups of school children wanting to meet her and ask questions about what life was like over her 100 plus years. Based on figures from a 2010 Census, her family believes she may have been the oldest remaining resident of Okanogan County.
Preceding her in death besides her parents, her siblings and both of her husbands were her two eldest daughters Iris Michaels (1992) and Ellen Stotts (2012); one granddaughter; three grandsons; one daughter-in-law and a son-in-law.
To celebrate her life Lula leaves behind all four of her sons: Harold (Mary) Burbery of Ukiah, CA.; John Burbery, Chuck (Dickie) Burbery, and Lloyd (Barb) Burbery all of Tonasket and one daughter Joy (Buck) Workman of Okanogan, Wash. Also remaining are 15 grandchildren (ages 50-70); 28 (fourth generation) great grandchildren; 17 (fifth generation) great-great grandchildren; one (sixth generation) granddaughter; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins, as well as the Gardner family.
Services will be held Friday, February 21, 2014 at 2 p.m. at Bergh’s Funeral Chapel in Oroville, Wash. with Lloyd Caton officiating. Interment will follow at the Loomis Mountain View Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Loomis Mountain View Cemetery P.O.Box 55 Loomis, WA 98827.
Bergh Funeral Service of Oroville/Tonasket in care of arrangements.
See Also: A Taste of History:Lula Gardner