- 98 years old
- Date of birth: Oct 9, 1914
- Date of passing: Jul 21, 2013
|Let the memory of Wilma be with us forever|
Wilma was born on October 9, 1914 in a sod house which her father had built in Hayes Count, NE.. She was the oldest of 7 surviving children born to C.J. and Stella (Lewis) Barrett. There were 3 girls and 4 boys. Wilma and two brothers are still living.
The family moved to a ranch 12 miles north of North Platte when Wilma was about 7 years old. The family still owns that ranch.
Because Wilma was the oldest and the 3 girls were born before any boys, she became her dad's right hand man. She always worked outside while the two younger girls helped in the house. She attended high school in North Platte except for one year when she stayed with her Grandparents in Lexington and attended there. When attending at North Platte, she boarded with families doing cooking and housework to earn her keep.
After graduating from high school, Wilma taught school. At one point she received vouchers which she had to hold until the people of the district paid their taxes before she could cash them. At another school, she stayed at home and rode horseback 16 miles each way to teach, arriving early to start the cow chip burning stove so it was warm for the students when they arrived and depending on her horse to find the “let down” in the fence so they could find their way home when there were blizzards.
On May 22, 1937, she married J. M. Loftus (Mike) who died Nov. 22, 1999 in Truth or Consequences, NM. Because it was during the depression, Mike worked at any odd jobs he could find, and they lived in a variety of homes. One was a building so old they nailed thick layers of newspapers on the walls to keep out the wind.
Eventually, Mike started work for the Union Pacific railroad. He worked as both a timekeeper on an “extra gang” repairing tracks, and as a relief agent where he worked Monday through Saturday then on Sunday they moved to a new station to again work Mon – Sat.
Mike & Wilma have two daughters, Virginia (Gin) a teacher in Anchorage, AK and Billie Dee of Howells. Wilma has 10 Grandchildren, 28 Great Grandchildren, and 14 Great Great Grandchildren.
When Billie Dee started school in 1943, Mike bid a permanent position at Cortland NE where they lived for 16 years before moving to David City. At Cortland, Wilma again taught once both girls were in school. When they moved to David City, she worked first as a clerk at J. C. Penny's then as a secretary in the extension office.
When Mike retired in 1973 they lived in a mobile home and traveled all over the western half of the U.S. hunting, fishing and visiting people they knew. They eventually settled in St. George UT where they continued to travel to visit friends made while traveling. In the late 1980's Mikes health declined and they moved to California to live with Gin. During this time, Wilma decided to learn how to use the computer so she could write a book about her life. She was in her early 70's. After writing her book, she helped Mike write his life story. From California she and Mike along with Gin moved to T or C, NM.
After Mike died and Gin's husband left, Gin decided to teach Special Ed and she and Wilma packed up, sold their house and moved to Anchorage AK. Gin in her 60's and Wilma in her 80's actually camped in a tent as they traveled across Canada to Anchorage..
In 2011 Wilma's health declined until she could not stay alone and since Gin worked 12 hour days, Wilma came to live with Billie Dee and her husband George.
Wilma has varied interests in life. She loves to listen to music, read books, (now talking books), travel and learn about anything new. She is an accomplished seamstress (making doll clothes for the Terri Lee doll company as well as all of her daughters clothing). She did knitting and crocheting until her eye sight failed. She was very active in community and church affairs – earning an Aksarben Good Neighbor award. She kept in touch with friends all over the U.S. and England until her eyesight prevented it
Have a suggestion for us?