Wilma “Jean” Saunders
February 3, 1945 ~ June 26, 2014
Wilma “Jean” Saunders, 69, of Wenatchee, WA, went to be with her Lord and Savior on June 26, 2014, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. She was born Wilma Jean Smith on February 3, 1945, in Mesa, AZ to William Curry Dean Smith and Fannie Irene Smith. Jean moved to Washington when she was eight months old with her family. Jean grew up in the Wenatchee Valley and surrounding area with her parents and six siblings, Edna, Curry, Lowell, Glenna, Anna and Roy. Her family made a living by picking local fruit and would also travel out of state to pick cotton. Jean also had a very special foster family with Leotta and Charley Smith and their children, Pete, Wendell, Louise, Buster, Margie, Janie, Bobby, Butch, Mary and Johnny. They would take Jean and her siblings in, as her parents had to often follow the fruit out of town during part of the school year. Jean attended the public schools and made it through the tenth grade, but later in life as an adult, achieved her G.E.D., of which she was so very proud. Jean met and married the love of her life, Quinton J.P. Saunders, on August 1, 1964, and they continued to make Wenatchee their home. Jean was the proud mother of four children, Richard, Tammy, Angie and Shirley, whom she loved very much and was a stay-at-home mom up until the early 70’s, when she went to work for the Northern Fruit company. At Northern Fruit, she met her best friend of 36 years, Shirley Johnson, and they enjoyed raising their kids together, as they were close in age. In the early 70’s and 80’s, Jean and her family enjoyed many camping trips up Foggy Dew with longtime friends, the Schwilkes, and had many late nights playing cards over at the Neely’s house. She also enjoyed spending time with Jerry and Eileen Owens and listening to his band play at the County Fair. Jean loved family reunions; it gave her a chance to see all her siblings and nieces and nephews and it was always a big party over at Eastmont park. In the summer of 1980, Jean was hurt at an Orondo orchard while picking cherries. The accident left her physically disabled, but she maintained her independence and continued to care for her family, returning to being a full time wife and homemaker. Jean was a very artistic person, she enjoyed painting, sewing and doing crafts; she used to sew all her girls matching dresses for Easter and all the holidays when they were little. She once created a pattern by hand to make a four foot Care Bear and she sold them to her coworkers at Northern Fruit at Christmas. They were so good that even the local Payless Company placed an order and put them on their shelves. Jean loved going camping up at Ida Creek and going to the ocean with her kids and grandkids. She also loved playing with her two great-grandchildren and her dog, Molly. Jean made many dear friends over the years, way too many to list, but some more recently like Sonia and Linda and she cherished them all. Jean’s daughter, Shirley, had been her caregiver for the last few years and Jean had been living with her and her husband, Jeremy and their kids, Katelin, Joshua and Natalie, up until the last three weeks of her life. After a brief hospitalization, she went to stay at her son, Richard’s home up in Valley High, where she found so much peace and comfort in the wooded surroundings they call home. Jean was surrounded by son, Richard, his wife, Audrey and son, Joshua and she died peacefully, being told that all of her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids loved her and that Shirley was on her way. After hearing those words, she took her last breath and went to be with Jesus and finally has true peace. Jean was a wonderful wife and mother and although her marriage had ended after 43 years in 2008, she went to be with God, loving our dad and our dad loving her.
Jean was preceded in death by her father, William Curry Dean Smith; her mother, Fannie Irene Smith; her brother, Curry Dean Smith; nephew, Steven Smith; nephew, Brad Martin; and many aunts and uncles. Jean leaves behind her ex-husband and friend, Quinton Saunders of Wenatchee; her son, Richard (Audrey) Saunders of Valley High and their children, Trista Sydloski-tesch of Seattle, Justin Saunders of Chelan and Joshua Rich of Valley High; daughter, Tammy (Pat) Weller and their sons, Mitchel and Derrick Weller, all of Fredericksburg, VA; daughter, Angela Halliday of Wenatchee and her children, Joe Earll of Wenatchee, Tyler Earll of Whidbey Island, Samantha Earll and two great-grandchildren, Ayden Hunt and Emma Insley of Wenatchee; and daughter, Shirley (Jeremy) Michel and their children, Katelin Moon, Joshua Moon, and Natalie Moon, all of Wenatchee. Jean also leaves behind her siblings, Edna Jones of Moses Lake, Lowell Smith of Wenatchee, Glenna Atkins of Springfield, MO, Anna Steele of East Wenatchee and Roy Smith of Battleground, WA and their families.
A Service for Jean will be held on Friday, July 11, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. at Telford’s Chapel of the Valley, 711 Grant Road, East Wenatchee. Immediately following the Service, there will be a Celebration of Life/Reception at Kirby Billingsley Hydro Park in East Wenatchee. Lunch will be provided and a slide show will be given of old family photos, set to some of mom’s favorite music. This will be a casual gathering, so bring a change of clothes and come share some stories and enjoy the facilities. Mom’s last wish was to be cremated and her ashes spread in her two favorite places, Ida Creek and Copalis Beach; her family will be honoring those wishes. Although our family is deeply saddened by our loss, we find joy and comfort in knowing mom is no longer suffering or in pain and that God has restored her now that he has called her home. We miss and love you, Mom, but we will see you again! Arrangements are by Telford’s Chapel of the Valley, East Wenatchee.