Pat Stipe

Pat Stipe

6/2/1933 — 1/21/2019

Pat Stipe died at the age of 85 on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. She was on the road to recovery here in Lewiston after scheduled open heart surgery Jan. 3 at Sacred Heart. Sadly, her heart just decided to stop for good with family at her bedside. She also was surrounded by family and closest friends throughout her last three weeks. We were all humbled by her determination, strength, grace, kindness, generosity, gratitude, dignity and gentle smiles throughout. She was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside all her life, up to the very end. She died happy and forever grateful for a blessed, long life well lived.

Pat was born June 2, 1933, in Bozeman, Mont. Her father, Charles Cameron Francisco, died when she was only 10, and she was raised then solely by her mother, Lillian, barely making ends meet, until she graduated high school and married her first husband, Cliff Button, in 1952. They raised their three sons in Montana until 1965, when they all moved to Lewiston.

She started her own business, and as the Lewiston-Clarkston Welcome Hostess, welcomed 9,480 families from 31 different countries to the valley between 1966 and 2003, when she finally retired. She also formed a Newcomers Club as a way for women to get acquainted and form smaller, special-interest groups. A divorce was followed by meeting and marrying the true love of her life, local family physician Dr. Dan Stipe, in 1974. They were joyfully married, successfully blending two families, for the next 40 years, until his death in 2014. Mom said he made her feel like Cinderella and Elizabeth Taylor rolled up in one, and she never lost that feeling.

She enjoyed the beauty of the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley and its distinctive four seasons while maintaining an enduring love of Montana. An inveterate traveler, she visited some 58 countries and all 50 states, but trips with her family up the Clearwater River from Lewiston to the simple beauty and peacefulness of Three Rivers provided extra special memories, just that close to home. And of course she had to go no farther than her back deck to look over the Snake River and soak in the sun during the day and then enjoy the gorgeous sunsets.

So many great memories, except maybe the handful of times she threatened to use the wooden spoon with her three young boys, then saved the dirty work for dad when he got home. Around cooking and cleaning, she worked tirelessly to help us with our school work and particularly to learn to enjoy reading. But no playing until after homework and, of course, house cleaning chores every Saturday morning. Making beds also was not an option, and she religiously continued to make her own king-size bed each morning, including the day she left home to go up for her heart surgery.

She would be the first to admit she wasn’t perfect, but we thought she was pretty close most of the time. She was a bit impatient at times, but boy did she get things done, and promptly. Don’t look to borrow her today’s newspaper after 9 a.m. or you better be prepared to look outside in the recycle bin.

From as early as we could count numbers, we played cards and board games, learning good sportsmanship and, of course, just a little competitiveness. In later years we dubbed her “the Game Lady” and she was always game for a game, day or night, any day of the week, year-round. She also was indeed the glue and spirit of our family, hosting at-home parties for all holidays, birthdays and special occasions over her lifetime, including this past New Year’s Eve, three days before her scheduled heart surgery. She even sharply played a winning game of cribbage during Day 2 in the ICU, and Quiddler there as well. How humbling to lose to an 85-year-old in that condition.

She loved playing bridge, pinochle and just about any other card or board game put in front of her. She also taught us to never cheat, so we didn’t cut her any slack, nor did she her opponents. She handily and proudly won our last game of pinochle at the Rehab Center the day before she died.

She volunteered with Meals on Wheels for many years up to last August, when she finally hung up her delivery spurs. She was a founding member of the local Red Hat Society chapter Vivacious Vagabonds, and their first queen. She volunteered in the elementary schools as a room mother and also by helping kids learn to read, and as a Pink Lady visiting patients in Tri-State Hospital years ago.

Her homes in Lewiston, without exception, always helped remind others driving by what the next holiday was, with her holiday flags and other themed outdoor decorations. Drive by even now and notice in her honor Valentine’s Day beckoning. Speaking of flags, she was proudly patriotic and she always had a clean, crisp, American flag hanging or flying from the ramrod straight, tall flagpole in front of her home.

She is survived by her three sons, Dan (Cindy) Button, Steve Button and Jeff (Chris) Button; stepdaughter Stephanie (Shawn) Rudy; stepsons Scott (Lil) Stipe, Brad (Natalie) Stipe and Whitney (Vanny) Stipe; grandchildren Marianne (Chad) Owens, Rebecca Button, Kyle Button, Kelsey (Kiel) Burcham, Zach Williams, Bella Stipe, Bennett Stipe, Jason (Tracy) Hammond and Joy (Bill) Placek; and great-grandchildren Cooper Owens, Macey Owens, McKenna Burcham, Brennan Burcham, Jaxson Burcham and TJ Hammond.

She also is survived by her younger sister, Shirley Francisco, of Bozeman; Mike Otis of Clarkston, a close, special friend and companion with whom she shared most days; as well as Penny Barbee, her honorary daughter; also others from the extended Button family, all of whom loved her and remained a part of her life after her divorce until the present. She was preceded in death by her older sisters, Frances Cottrell and Jenny Freeman.

We have lost the fun, loving matriarch of the family, but her example and spirit and love for life will go on forever through her example of a life extremely well lived, shared and appreciated. She had written simply that she wanted to be remembered for bringing love, laughter and happiness to others. She did that in spades (pun intended).

The family and Mom thank everyone who helped with her care the past four months, and in particular Dr. Celso Chavez, Dr. Lee Gould, Sacred Heart Hospital, Advanced Health Care, and Dr. Driver and the ER professionals at Tri-State Hospital.

Her memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Orchards Community Church, 822 Bryden Ave., Lewiston. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Willow Center for Grieving Children, P.O. Box 1361, Lewiston, ID 83501, or online at Online condolences and memories can be shared at

She was terribly proud of and deeply loved the three sons she’d raised, to a fault almost, as she did the rest of her family. That became immediately clear to almost anyone she met who spent more than several minutes with her. Her sons went their entire lifetime never doubting the depth and consistency of their mother’s deep pride and unconditional love. The memory of her warm, kind caring nature, soft sparkling eyes and beautiful smile will forever be with everyone who knew her. Love You Forever (LYF), Mom.

Service Information

Date & Time
Saturday, February 2, 11:00 AM
Orchards Community Church
822 Bryden Avenue
Lewiston, Idaho 83501

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Bill and Kathy Cone

Pat had a wonderful smile and knew how to make those around her feel special. She was a very gracious lady - the perfect ambassador to welcome newcomers to the valley! We were so sorry to hear of her passing. Our thoughts are with you during this sad time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019 7:37 PM

Rick Tierney

Meg Donahoe and I send our condolences from Arizona. It was such a joy to see and play pinochle with Pat just before New years at our annual get together. She shared with me her fears about the upcoming surgery and shared her appreciation of our long time friendship as did I. She has been on my mind since we left and am a better person for knowing her. God bless and keep you all in your grief. Rick Tierney

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 8:06 AM

kay morrison

Will miss this lady as she was that and much more, to Steve I am sorry for your loss and remember all of what she did for the swimming world and to Dan remember the cub scouts. Love you all

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 6:49 AM

Suzanne Marks

Pat welcomed me as family at a young age. She was my chaperone to the state Demolay conclave when I was Demolay Sweetheart. I loved her like a mama and will miss her deeply.

Monday, January 28, 2019 12:14 PM

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