Our mother, Lorraine Hiatt, 92, died November 1, 2020, after contracting covid. She was the much-loved mother of Michael Dean Hiatt of Idaho Falls (and his wife, Stacy) and, Susie Hiatt Conte of Durham, North Carolina, treasured grandmother to 12 (Jared, Rachel, Adam, Sara, Esther, Caleb, Bradley, Noah, Gracie, Abby, Hope, and Victoria) and great-grandmother of 30.
She was born Elsie Lorraine McCain on Jan. 10, 1928, in the family's farmhouse in Howard, SD, to Joseph Oscar McCain and Margaret Hahn McCain. Among the early memories she liked to recount were those of collecting eggs from their chickens and driving to town on weekends to trade them for supplies for the following week. They also kept cattle, pigs, sheep, turkeys, geese, and ducks. Their farm land was largely for grains for both human consumption as well as the animals in the winter. She thought the world of her father and felt like they really shared a love of reading and academia. She was crushed when he died of a stroke just before she turned 12. Her mother was German and not inclined to speak of love or affection -- this fueled her driving determination to never speak to us children when we left home without telling us she loved us. Her older sister Elma was, to her mind, more of a mother to her and she loved her dearly.
She moved with her family from their farm in SD to one in Vale, OR, the year following her father's death. They were amazed by the relative green and all the fruit trees to pick from. She milked a lot of cows, but it wasn't a job she enjoyed. She and her family continued to live life without electricity or running water. Coal stoves, fireplaces, washboards, lanterns, and outhouses were the order of the day. Not an easy life. They always kept a garden, though, so they would preserve plenty of foods to store in their root cellar. And then there was yummy homemade ice cream, thanks to the cows!
She talked a lot about enjoying school and her love of reading. After graduating from Vale Union High School, she married Phillip Dean Hiatt. They moved to Boise which she grew to love, and had two children, Mike and Susie, exactly two years apart to the day. Although they divorced in 1959, she did take some classes at Boise Jr. College (at the time) and would have loved to pursue a college degree in accounting.
She was on her own to provide for herself and us children at that point. She could have made more money had she gone on welfare or public assistance, but it was more important to her to teach us the value of being a hard worker and self sufficient. Having worked at C.C. Anderson's and the Dept. of Transportation, she eventually secured a position at Boise Cascade in 1960. She worked in the accounting department until the days came when the company felt that a college degree was necessary for the position she held. She then transitioned to the records management department, though she didn't love it as much as when she had been in accounting. She worked there until she retired in 1989. Susie even worked there in the same building with her for a few years during college, which was really special.
Lorraine encouraged academic achievement as she raised us, and even served as president of the PTA of our elementary school for a time. She didn't even get mad when one night, after we had been tasked with taking a bath before putting ourselves to bed, we encountered a bit of a bathtub snag when the water facet got stuck and we couldn’t turn it off. At that moment, she was conducting a PTA meeting, and Mike had to run to the school to fetch her, whispering in her ear as she was addressing the audience, then they both headed home. (Think the PTA noticed when their speaker suddenly departed?) Meanwhile Susie kept vigil, anxiously watching the wayward facet continue to spew unwanted water. Lorraine took it in stride. The little (under 700 sq. ft.) house that she raised us in was homey and had lots of flowers that she enjoyed watering after work. The poppies, roses, and lilies of the valley were favorites.
She was so grateful for the relative ease of life eventually afforded by things like a washing machine, lights, running water, and an indoor bathroom. No more outhouse!! But still, every Saturday, load after load of wash was taken out back to be hung on the clotheslines. If it started raining or snowing, we kids would grab the clothes and run to hang them in front of the oil stove that kind of heated the house.
She was so financially responsible that in 1968, she was able to sell her home for $5000 and move to a larger house so that as time went on we could have our own bedrooms. She loved the quiet, shady location and its proximity to her work, church, and the grocery. Location was always something she considered because she never learned to drive. She didn't leave this house until she needed to move to a senior living apartment.
Holidays were incredibly special for her and her family. One of her three siblings with a larger home would usually generously host Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was our rare opportunity to see family that lived 30 to 75 miles away, a super big deal since we didn't have a car. We would catch up with our extended family members who were so good about being there ~ sometimes even taking us ~ and enjoy the sounds and smells that always attended these large, wonderful gatherings. Later, once we children were grown and gone, it was counted as a very special privilege to be able to have her come for Thanksgiving or Christmas. So many special memories were made at those times; they will always be treasured.
Something she'd always felt lacking in her own early life had been shoes. Being a Depression Era child, she'd been issued one pair per year, the lining of which inevitably wore through, leaving her little feet exposed on the bottoms. She would supplement with cardboard cutouts inside her shoes at regular intervals. She would often repeat the mantra to us that she'd picked up during the Depression: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." And she was great at making do! But taking us kids for our yearly shoes was a big deal and she was determined to put us in top quality shoes that never wore through the bottoms.
She had a love of music and made sure we learned to play piano and at least one other instrument. She attended countless concerts through the years. Never having learned an instrument herself, she sang along with the Laurence Welk show which, to her mind, was easily the best music available! On occasion, she'd even polka with Susie. She also made sure we were in Cub/Girl Scouts, church and YMCA programs, and other activities throughout the years.
Another important thing to mom was church. She was raised in the Lutheran Church and was a faithful Lutheran all her life, instilling an early knowledge of God in our lives. Every Sunday morning, you could find us there, whether transported by friend or taxi, in the same pew. Church was inevitably followed by a run to the grocery store on the way home. A $.05 ice cream cone was afforded to each of us. What a treat!
Although she was excited for each of us children in turn as we graduated from high school, there was never a choice or question ~ we would go to college. We both attended Boise State for our undergrad degrees. It was during these years that her love of Boise State University would be fanned into a roaring fire. The Bronco's football and basketball teams were such a passion! She watched or listened to the games, cheered them on, sent money to help them, and liked being surrounded with Broncos paraphernalia. It's quite possible that she has been their greatest fan.
She really delighted in the weekly car races held in Meridian and attended those for years with us kids. Mike caught the bug and would race there himself one day. She was, of course, his biggest fan.
She loved playing games with us and that love lives on in us, as we now enjoy playing games with our own families. She also enjoyed gardening (In the Garden is her favorite hymn!) and puzzles. A day was not complete until she'd worked the crossword and other available puzzles in the Statesman.
We thank God for the many ways He used our mom in our lives. Her life and lessons will not be forgotten! We are so thankful for all that she was to us and all that we learned through her. We loved her so much! May God use our lives to reflect that and honor Him!
The family would love to have anyone who also loved Lorraine to contribute their memories, pictures, or stories of her on this tribute page.
To send flowers to Elsie's family, please visit our floral store.