Geraldine F. Lay, of Omak, age 78, died peacefully at home on Jan. 13, 2011, of natural causes. Gerry, as most people knew her, was born Sept. 13, 1932 in Tonasket and grew up in Loomis with her parents, Iona A. Dexter and James F. Dexter.
She attended the one and only small elementary school there and often spoke about the multi-grade classroom experience. She continued her education in Tonasket. She met her first husband, Norman C. Utigard at a social dance event and married soon after. They had several children and moved to Moses Lake where her husband worked for Boeing for several years. They returned to Okanogan County in 1960 where she remained for the duration of her life. She married her second husband, Leland Lay in 1978.
She was a devoted mother who loved and was loved by all her children and grandchildren very much. She often extended her warmth, humor and caring to those around her, including neighbors and those who worked for her. She adored her pet dogs and was found with her loving dog, MeeMee, on her lap the day she died. She worked in the apple industry for many years, as well as local retail. When she was younger she often played piano at a local club and her children have many fond memories of her playing the piano and singing. She loved music, especially country music, and could play just about anything after she’d heard it a couple times. Her love of music has been passed down to her children and several of them sing and play instruments as well. They will miss her fun-loving spirit, songs and beautiful voice.
Gerry is survived by three siblings: Lee O’Neil, Kay Christie and James (Jimmy) Dexter; four children: Linda (Anin) Utigard of San Francisco, Calif., Thomas Utigard of Selah, Wash., Peggy Brantner of Omak, and Lorie Utigard of Seattle. She is also survived by two step-children: Helen Lay of Bothel, Wash., and Bobby Lay of Omak; 14 grandchildren and two step-grandchildren: Heidi DeMello, Robin James-Utigard, Tyson Utigard, Brian Utigard, James Utigard, Steven Utigard, Kaemon Utigard, Soeli Utigard, Tabeon Utigard, Tania Gariano, Katrina Brantner, Carey Brantner, Sarah (Lay) Yusi and Ellie (Lay) Swartsel, along with fifteen great-grandchildren and ten nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents: Iona and James Dexter; her late husband, Leland Lay; her loving sisters: Martha Michels and Marylou Siroshton; and her great-grandson, Conner H. Brantner.
A special thanks with much gratitude is also extended to her dear young friend and neighbor, Lane Howe, who often visited and helped her out over the past several years.
Viewing will be held Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Precht-Harrison-Nearents Chapel on Elmway in Okanogan. A gathering to memorialize and celebrate Gerry’s life will be held on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 11:30 a.m. at Abundant Life Fellowship, 46 Hopfer Rd., Omak.
Precht-Harrison-Nearents Chapel and the Okanogan County Crematory are caring for the arrangements.