Merle Loseth, 77, Orofino
Mildred "Merle" Loseth, loving wife, mother, grandmother, friend to many, and life-long resident of the Orofino area passed away peacefully on Sunday the 11th of August, 2013 at the age 77. Merle was comfortable in her passing, surrounded by her family, after a courageous 16-month fight against lung cancer.
Merle was born Feb. 6, 1936, in Ahsahka to Andrew J. and Dorothy M. Bryant Bobbitt. She married John Douglas Loseth on Dec. 31, 1956, in Orofino and they spent the next 54 years living in the family residence on Riverside Avenue, where he had lived since age five before passing away in 2010. Merle remained living in the Loseth family home until her passing.
Merle grew up on the family farm on Crow Bench before moving to Peck at the age of seven in 1943. As a young girl she helped her mother as a switch board operator for the Peck telephone exchange for Interstate Telephone and General Telephone Co., which was in her home until 1953, when it became part of the Orofino exchange.
Merle attended elementary school in Peck and attended junior high and senior high school in Orofino, graduating from Orofino High School in 1953.
After graduating from high school she went to work in the business office for Speer Cartridge Works in Lewiston. She took bookkeeping classes and continued as secretary/bookkeeper at Speer until 1955, when she returned to Orofino to work in the accounting department at the State Hospital North.
Merle began a 35 year career with the Clearwater Valley Hospital in 1960 as head bookkeeper and soon after she became the hospital's office manager. She then served as acting administrator in 1963 before becoming business manager.
In 1968, while raising her active family and serving as business manager, she completed a year-long course on Hospital Administration offered through the University of California and administered by Boise State College. She spent many weekends in Boise and many nights studying to complete this training which helped her to advance in management at Clearwater Valley Hospital.
In 1969 she was promoted to the position of Administrator of Clearwater Valley Hospital, which she held for 25 years until her retirement in 1994. Merle's vision for the hospital was well received and the hospital flourished under her watch.
She worked collaboratively with many staff members, doctors, health professionals and organizations over the years leading the hospital to new levels of professionalism that saw the addition many new services such as physical therapy, respiratory therapy, home health, hospice and on-site emergency room physicians for the residents of Clearwater County.
Her last major initiative was a $1.28 million Capital Campaign drive. The drive, which included donated labor, equipment, and volunteer time in the true Orofino "Maniac" spirit, resulted in the construction of a clinic and administrative offices at the hospital that brought doctors, other health care workers and medical services under one roof. The construction also brought a birthing room and the remodeling of the hospital's interior, bringing it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The new addition to Clearwater Valley Hospital, say those who worked with Merle, was a tribute to her untiring determination to bring the best health care possible to the upper Clearwater River region.
Merle served concurrently as the Clearwater Valley Hospital Administrator, the Medical Park Clinic Administrator, the Kooskia Medical Clinic Administrator and the Administrator of a Kamiah home health care office in her final working years.
Merle was well respected by her peers and spent many long hours making sure the Clearwater Valley Hospital took good care of its patients and that it took good care of the staff and doctors associated with the hospital.
In addition to her work at the hospital, she was active in a number of related health care organizations. She spent 14 years volunteering for and served as the Chairwoman of the Idaho Hospital Association, served three terms on the Board of Directors of Blue Cross of Idaho, was active in the Orofino Chamber of Commerce, worked with Idaho Emergency Medical Services and helped establish the North Idaho Consortium for Continuing Health Education.
Merle was instrumental in the passage of legislation allowing rural Idaho hospitals to establish medical clinics. She also helped spearhead the establishment of home health, hospice, the Clearwater Valley Hospital Foundation serving as a Board Member and the Hospital Auxiliary serving several terms as President.
Merle enjoyed singing with the Clearwater Choraliers. The group was formed in the early 1970's and Merle traveled with the group many times to area cities to perform in concerts. The Clearwater Choraliers later became the Orofino Community Choir and she was an active member of the choir until her passing. She served as the Treasurer for many years and was honored for her many years of choir membership and involvement at the spring 2013 concert series.
Merle was a member of Chapter CD of PEO, the Fine Gold Good Sam's Club, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Ladies Auxiliary, and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. She especially enjoyed time spent with her Bunco Group and her Lunch Bunch. She also enjoyed sewing and made ribbon winning quilts.
Merle was a great friend to have and was loyal in visiting with her friends, helping sick friends, assisting friends with transportation to and from appointments, getting them to the airport for travel, or to just lend an ear to a friend in need.
Merle especially loved her grandchildren. Merle and John took their grandkids on many camping trips and motor home excursions. She loved attending their many school sports activities, dance recitals, school educational events and summer baseball and softball games.
She is survived by her brother Dale and his wife Peggy in Spokane, WA; son Pat and his wife Diane in Clarkston, WA and their children Shawnna and husband Steven, Andrew and Keeton; and son Chris and his wife Lori in Asotin, WA and their children David, Caitlin and Erik. She also is survived by her many loving cousins, nieces and nephews.
In addition to her husband John, she was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, Joe and an infant sister.
Please join in the celebration of her life at her memorial service in Orofino at the Pine Hills Funeral Chapel at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, immediately followed by a lunch at the Clearwater County Senior Citizen's Center across the street from the funeral home. There will be a burial service at the Riverside Cemetery at 2:30 p.m.
Memorials, in lieu of flowers, can be sent to P.O. Box 82, Orofino, ID 83544 for either the Clearwater Valley Hospital Auxiliary or the Orofino Community Choir.
Pine Hills Funeral Chapel and Crematory is caring for arrangements.
Transcribed by Michal Berreth-Beck, 2014
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