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Ella Hutchinson 89, of Libby

by The Western News
| January 26, 2012 9:47 AM

Ella “Phoebe” Hutchinson went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Jan.  11, 2012.

She was born the oldest of four children to Fred and Leila McKinney on March 23, 1922, in Mowequa, Ill.

At the age of 1, she travelled from Illinois to California with her parents in a Model T Ford, which took one month, camping each night along the way. She was raised and graduated High School in El Cajon, Calif., and at 19 she married her husband of 52 years, James M. Hutchinson. 

On Feb. 21, 1942, they eloped to Yuma, Ariz., because Jim had just received his draft notice to the Army Air Corps for World War II.

After Jim got out of the service they lived in El Cajon, then slowly migrated north into Oregon and then to Brush Prairie near Vancouver, Wash. Along the way they had four girls and two boys, one of whom was still-born.

In 1966, after the two oldest daughters were married, Jim and Ella, with the three younger children moved to Libby “just for the summer” while Jim worked on the Dam project. Libby is where they lived out their lives.

Ella worked at various places from California to Oregon to Washington. When moving to Libby in 1966, she worked at Hafferman’s Grocery Store as a checker, and then started cooking at the Ten Pin Café until it closed.

She then worked at the Surprise Café for a short time until Jim and Ella became the owner/operators in 1972.

They closed the restaurant in 1974 when Jim became ill with cancer. Later, she started cooking at the Riverside Inn, and they operated a little store and gas station 8 miles north on Highway 37.

They later moved to the Riverside Trailer Court and she worked there until the restaurant closed. Then she cooked in the kitchen at St. John’s Hospital until she retired at age 70 to be full-time care giver for her husband, Jim, until he passed away in October 1993.

The following year she moved her home to Bellevue Trailer Court until she had to move in with her son, Jim and then later to Judy’s, her daughter, until she moved into the Libby Care Center in March 2011 because of her third major stroke.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Jim; all of her siblings, her sister Martha Putz and her husband Carl; Brothers Emery (Buddy) McKinney and Freddy McKinney; two son-in-laws, Mike Wilder and Jack Weisenborn; a grandson, Scott Weisenborn and a great-grandson Jason Daniel Lucas, Jr.

She is survived by her five children, daughters Donna (Weisenborn) Plumm and Nancy Wilder, both of Vancouver, Wash.; daughter Judy and Jim Montgomery of Troy, Mont.; son Jim and Mona Hutchinson and daughter Bonnie and John Drews of Libby; 15 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren and five great, great grandchildren, sister-in-laws, Patsy McKinney and Lucille McKinney, both of California, along with nieces, nephews and many, many beloved friends.

Ella was the “saint of saints” and was loved dearly by everyone she met. She never said a bad word about anyone and always had a smile for everyone with an encouraging word.

She loved with the love of Christ and now she is by His side and He has said “Well done good and faithful servant.”

She was absolutely the best wife, mother, grandmother and friend anyone could ask for, and we always knew that we were loved very much.

Her passing will leave a gaping hole in our lives for she will be greatly missed.

“To live is Christ, to die is gain:” Philippians 1:21

Visitation will be from 1 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 at the Schnackenberg & Nelson Funeral Home & Crematory in Libby.

Services will be 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, at the Faith Bible Church in Libby.