It is with the heaviest of hearts to announce that our beloved Lonnie (Cleo) Ritchie, 74, of Cle Elum has left us to be with Jesus and join her Mother, Father, Sister Bonnie and all of her fur babies in heaven. Viewing will be held at Johnston & Williams Funeral Home in Cle Elum on Sunday, April 18 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon. Services will be held at the Cle Elum Community Church the same afternoon at 2:00pm and will also be live streamed for those that cannot attend. We invite friends and family to also join us at the Centennial Center in Cle Elum immediately following the church service. A celebration of life will also be held at a later date at the Roslyn Eagles.
Cleo, known to most as Lonnie or Grama, was born in Morton Washington December 1, 1946 to her mother Dixie and her father Thomas Vowels. Lonnie is the oldest of 3 sisters, her middle sister Bonnie and her baby sister Shari whom she loved dearly. Lonnie spent most of her childhood around the North Bend Oregon area until she later moved to Washington and found comfort and peace in the small town of Cle Elum. Here is where she planted her roots nearly 50 years ago to raise her children Tammy Ritchie 58 and Lloyd Young 53. She shared the joys of getting lost in a good book with Tammy as she truly loved to read. And she loved sharing stories of Lloyds recreational activities and alllllll his trophies. She was a very proud mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She would be the first to gloat and rave about one of our successes or triumphs to her friends and anyone that would listen really.
Grama, has 4 grandchildren. Her son Lloyd and wife Heather had two beautiful sons, Declan 14 and Harrison 12. Till this day, Grama carries their school pictures around with her in her wallet and that has never changed. She loved these boys with her whole heart and always wished she got more time with them. She found joy and humor in Harrison’s excitement for nerf guns and nerf gun wars and she truly was amazed by Declan’s knack for classic things and history behind them. She would say “he is just too stinking smart”.
Her other two grandchildren, from her daughter Tammy, are Amber 36 and Steven 31. They were blessed to be able to spend most of their time growing up with Lonnie. Honestly, she was the foundation in their lives. She truly enjoyed all moments with her granddaughter. From watching her follow in her footsteps and play catcher in softball her whole life to being her dinner date to work events as an adult. Every moment mattered. She also enjoyed watching Steven grow up. He was the first grandson and Grama got the privilege ( or adventure ) to teach him how to drive. Steven brought into the world Lonnie’s only great-grandson, Lucas 2. He is a blessing and a joy in our lives and Grama would light up when she saw him.
She really loved all her family with every fiber of her being. She had the kindest soul and the purest heart and was a mother to all. She would accept anyone into her home that needed some love or help or a place to stay. It didn’t matter who you were, you always had a spot at our dinner table or a hot meal. It didn’t matter if there were 10 rambunctious teenagers in her house, she made a meal for all of them. Grama was a mother and a grandmother to many kids growing up that may not have had good role models in their life. She never judged or made anyone feel shameful for the predicament they were in. She just loved and cared no matter what.
For those closet to Lonnie, they knew what a wonderful baker ( and cook ) she was. Like clock work she would bake the BEST banana or zucchini bread amongst other delicious treats around Christmas time and pass them out to those around her. Every year as far back as I can remember, she also made plates of her yummies and handed them out to all the neighbors on our block. Everyone looked forward to grama’s baking because I am telling you, it really was the best breads around! I believe she was an amazing baker because Grama really really loved breads and pastries. Those were her deepest weakness in life. Along with baking, Grama was an amazing cook. Hands down our family will say that she made the best spaghetti. So much so that that’s what her granddaughter Amber and her grandson Steven request for their birthday dinners at home. She always joked when we would rave about it because she would say “its different every time. I just throw whatever I have around in it” but still we LOVED it no matter what.
Grama was a lover of animals. When she was younger she had horses that she loved and missed so much. She really had a way with anything and anyone. It’s like she had an unspoken peacefulness about her that drew anything and anyone in in a way that made you feel calm and safe. She has had dachshunds over the last 20+ years. She is leaving behind her dachshund C.C. whom we call Sister. Sister misses grama very much. So with being an animal lover and never closing the doors on anyone, Grama’s house was a dropping zone for animals people couldn’t care for or that they couldn’t have anymore. She has acquired a pig, several dogs, birds and lizards over the years. Like I said, she would never turn away anything.
She played lotto for as long as we all have been alive. Never hit it big but she was committed. Aside from lotto, bingo was her only other gambling weak spot. LOVED bingo and she was one of those ladies that had 15 cards and would still dob our one card when we missed a number. For a little fun on occasion she would go to the Casino with her sister Shari and drop a few bucks in the slot machines. She really loved those moments with her sister.
Aside from all the love and kindness she had, she was the hardest worker you would ever meet. When she passed she was 74 years young and up until she turned 73 she was still a bartender. She loved her job and was very good at it. She just had a way with people and most of bartending is really just peopling. She spent roughly 16 years in her last job bartending at the Roslyn Eagles and has been a member of the club for around 40. This was really her second home with her second family. The Eagles slogan is “ People helping People” and that is exactly what Grama did her whole life.
In addition she had side jobs cleaning house for a few elderly folk whom she became very close with and she has also cleaned Mountain Elegance Furniture Store here in Cle Elum for several years and loves the Team there so much as well. To even keep her more busy she has been part of the Centennial Center since it broke ground the first time and this too is where she found close friends while volunteering her time.
She truly was an adventurer at heart. She never backed down from anything and would be along for the ride for whatever the activity was. Even with a major fear of flying, she hopped on an airplane for 12 hours and flew to China and two weeks later had to fly back for another 12 hour flight. But that never stopped her. She always dressed the part for holidays. She spiked her hair green and blue with a hawk fin for the Seahawks games. In her younger years she enjoyed the boat races and horseback riding and camping.
She never let anyone down and would give the shirt off her back if you needed it. Even over the last year when she was out of work, she still made sure to donate and contribute to all the organizations that she has faithfully over the last 20+ years. She truly was just the best.
Though the world may seem like a darker place with her gone, it truly is brighter with her shining down on us all. Love you to the moon and back!
Memorial contributions can be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) or to a charity of your choice that you think our beloved Lonnie would appreciate.
Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory of Cle Elum has been entrusted with caring for the family. Online condolences may be left at www.johnston-williams.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Cleo "Lonnie" Ritchie, please visit our floral store.