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Obituary of Carolyn Ruth Lehman
Carolyn Lehman, 94, was the first child born to Ruth and Andrew Johnson. She grew up with her brother, Ray Johnson, in the countryside outside Portland, Oregon. She completed the Nursing Program at Emanuel Hospital in 1945 and joined the Army Nurses Corps as a Second Lieutenant. After Basic Training at Madigan General Hospital in Fort Lewis, WA, she served in California. While at Fort Baker, she met and married a fellow officer, Robert Lehman, in October 1946. She left the service to be his life partner and raise a family while at posts in Japan, Germany, Utah and Washington State.
By 1962, they were ready to “retire” from the military life and bought a house in Vancouver, Washington. Carolyn returned to nursing at Vancouver Memorial Hospital while her children finished school. She and Bob always welcomed visitors to stay with them. They shared their home with a great-nephew while he finished his high school education, and hosted a Kenyan student while he went to junior college. She also was active in the life of the First Presbyterian Church, the YWCA, and Heifer Project International.
In 1979, she and Bob moved to Kalispell, Montana, to enjoy the Big Sky Country and be near his aging family members. They helped build their own house, and put in a large garden. Carolyn worked at Kalispell Regional Hospital as a ward clerk, and later worked in private doctor offices. The First Presbyterian Church of Kalispell was a big part of her life; she enjoyed the fellowship of the Vacation Bible Schoolers through the Whitecaps. They were matched to a family with three young girls to be their local “grandparents.” She also continued her work with the Presbyterian Women’s Association, Heifer Project, and Habitat for Humanity.
In 1997, they moved back to the Pacific Northwest to be by their children and grandchildren. They settled outside of Olympia, Washington, and joined a new church family at The United Churches of Olympia. She was supportive of their local mission activities, as well as traveling to their sister church in Costa Rica. She worked for Heifer Project at Alternative Gift Fairs, made lunches for Habitat for Humanity builds, and did CROP Walk fundraisers.
Carolyn documented the life of her family through scrapbooking. We have an entire wall of scrapbooks to refer to when trying to figure out “what year did THAT happen.” Throughout the years, she maintained continuous connections among our family members and her friends around the world through letters, greeting cards, and the Annual Christmas Letter. She could email, but Snail Mail was her thing. “Travel with a Purpose” was important to Bob and Carolyn, linking a church mission, Heifer Project, or a Habitat build to many of their adventures and family visits. Exercise needed a mission too, so they picked up litter on their walks. Carolyn kept active at the YMCA until just before she died.
She made time in her busy life to learn new crafts: ikebana flower arranging, creating geisha dolls, knitting socks, sweaters and gloves (with fingers!), crocheting throws, needlepoint and counted cross stitch projects. Handcrafted creche scenes of hers are displayed at Christmas in our homes. She sewed clothes and costumes for her family when they were young. As her energy and eyesight waned, she continued to make prayer shawls for her church ministry to share.
Carolyn had a quietly competitive spirit. She loved when her projects won a ribbon at the county fair. There are bowling trophies in her closet. She played Bridge back in the day, and taught her children and grandchildren how to play Kings in the Corner. After dinner (and Jeopardy), anyone at her home was invited to play. That night’s winner was recorded on her calendar.
She is survived by her sons, Rick (Brenda) Lehman of Olympia, and Ken Lehman of Spokane, Washington; daughters, Ruth Lehman of Olympia, and Marie (Gary) Bricker of Kea’au, Hawaii; her brother, Ray Johnson, of Tillamook, Oregon; and loving grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A graveside service will be held on Friday, April 12, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. at the Fort Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery on Fourth Plain in Vancouver, Washington.
Donations to honor Carolyn’s memory may be made to Heifer International, 1 World Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72202 or online at www.heifer.org