Thelma Ileata Monroe Brittain was born in Vesuvius, Va., in 1919. She had 5 younger siblings who lived to adulthood and 3 more who died in infancy.
She grew up during the depression and remembered tasting her first ice cream as a young girl.
She worked at Dupont on the atomic bomb during WWII.
In 1937 during high school, she started writing to an Oregon pen pal, who later became her husband, Leo Brittain. Seven years passed and they met in Chicago at the Palmer House under the supervision of her mother. In 1946, they married in Columbia, S.C. then moved to Oregon to help run the Brittain ranch. Thelma learned to milk cows, raise chickens, Hereford beef cattle, grow wheat, alfalfa, and manage the business end of ranching.
Thelma and Leo were founding members of the Tywama Saddle Club, which organized the annual All Indian Rodeo in Tygh Valley.
She and Leo raised two daughters, Jennifer and Margaret. She enjoyed watching football and basketball, sewing, knitting and visiting with friends. A cross country road trip to Virginia with Jennifer was a special memory for her. Leo and Thelma lived on the same property near Wamic throughout their marriage, until Leo’s death in 2003. Thelma remained there until she had a stroke in 2018.
She almost achieved her goal of reaching 100, passing away at her daughter Jennifer’s home on March 16, 2019.
She is survived by her daughter Jennifer; granddaughter Sarah (Chad) Karver; great-grandson Robert; special nieces, Sue Craig and Cindi Brittain; numerous nieces; and nephews.
Thelma was preceded in death by her husband, Leo; daughter Margaret; parents Clarence and Mattie (Painter) Monroe; and all her siblings.
She will be remembered fondly for her Virginian hospitality and excellent cooking: especially fried chicken and wonderful pies.
A memorial service will be held at a future date.
Any donations may be made to the Wamic Historical Society c/o 80309 Ross Road, Wamic, Oregon 97063.