LaRayne K. (Arnzen) Petrie passed quietly in her sleep at a Lewiston Advanced Health in the early morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, while recovering from a broken leg.
Born June 18, 1927, in Ferdinand to Clara (Toennis) Arnzen and William H. Arnzen, she joined two brothers, Edward and Cyril, and was later joined by a sister, Katherine (Katie Egland).
A small Catholic school was situated with the parsonage and church in Ferdinand and she attended her first three years there. At the height of the Great Depression in 1936, LaRayne’s parents sold their ranch in Ferdinand and moved to Cottonwood, where they could better care for Clara’s elderly parents. LaRayne attended school there for a short time. But her days of true adventure were about to come.
About 1937, LaRayne’s father bought a business in Peck and for three glorious years LaRayne swam in the creek behind her father’s business while developing close friendships with many young people her age, knocking around the area, riding horses and doing all the fun things that kids who live in a rural setting get to do. No pretenses existed in those days. Everybody was “poor,” but most didn’t know it, especially the kids. People existed without having to buy new clothes each year or a new car every other. Besides, LaRayne’s mother was an excellent seamstress and her girls could always finagle a new dress or blouse out of her for special occasions.
If the boys wanted new clothes, they had the means to earn them. Nevertheless, times were tough in Peck. It was simply too small for a business during the Depression. So, the peripatetic Arnzens found themselves moving once again, this time to Yakima. LaRayne’s parents had purchased a small, neighborhood grocery, in Yakima, the kind one used to see every few blocks for easy walkability. There, she and her sister were enrolled in St. Joseph’s Academy. But the extended family was always important to the Arnzens, and they soon moved back to Idaho, finally landing in Lewiston, where LaRayne completed her grade school education at St. Stanislaus Catholic School, and then moving on to Lewiston High School, graduating with the Class of 1945. She participated in several clubs and activities, but band and cheerleading were always her favorite activities as a Bengal: While her children have yet to prove it as a fact, since some report cards seem to be unavailable, LaRayne always claimed she did not miss a single day of school for 12 years. High school years for LaRayne, of course, meant the War Years. Consequently, common service jobs were rather easy to obtain because the young men had gone into military service. She declared her favorites jobs as being a car hop at Bob’s Bar BQ and as a soda jerk at Eddie’s Malt Shop.
When she aged a little (by turning 16) she started selling shoes. First at Block’s, then at Gregson’s. She sold at Gregson’s part time off and on for 25 years. Her two older boys would often go to Gregson’s when it was time for LaRayne to end her shift or have lunch downtown with them. While waiting, the boys would typically irradiate their feet with the primitive standup foot x-ray machine that allowed customers to observe their feet inside the shoes they tried on.
While selling shoes was one of her favorite jobs, it must not be forgotten that LaRayne and her sister Katie sold Lewiston Round-Up tickets at the Little Red Barn on Main Street in front of the Roxy Theater for more than 20 years, starting each August and continuing through the Saturday of the event’s weekend when it was held at the old arena in North Lewiston.
In 1946, LaRayne enrolled at the Lewiston Normal School, where once again, she performed as a cheerleader and worked on the school’s Annual. However, soon after starting her freshman year, she met and married the late Wayne J. Petrie, former Japanese POW and survivor of the Bataan Death March, having been captured at the Fall of Corregidor, and who, in post-war years, served as a mailman, a farm implement parts manager, and in his final career, as the Lewiston Postmaster, until his passing in January 1972. LaRayne and Wayne married at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in December of 1946, which meant LaRayne would trade her teaching career in for another rewarding career, that of mother.
Together, LaRayne and Wayne had five children: Gordon Wayne, born Jan. 1, 1948, the first baby born in Nez Perce and Asotin Counties for the year: Gary William, born March 9, 1949; Jody Kay born Christmas Day 1955, the same year Wayne was appointed Postmaster in Lewiston by President Dwight D. Eisenhower; Jon Charles, born Dec. 17, 1959, and the tail-end Charlie, James Patrick, born May 31, 1963.
LaRayne was preceded in death by her parents, William and Clara Arnzen, her siblings, Edward and Cyril Arnzen and Katie Egland; as well as her husband, Wayne.
She is survived by her five children and their families, Gordon and Patrice Ann Petrie of Emmett, Idaho; son Gary and Linda Petrie of Lewiston; daughter Jody and Terry Colegrove of Genesee; son Jon and Raynette Petrie of Lewiston, and son James and Karla Petrie also of Lewiston; 10 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; seven bonus great-grandchildren and six bonus great-great-grandchildren.
Vassar-Rawls is in charge of the final services. A life-long Roman Catholic, rosary will be recited with a time to be announced Jan. 21 at Vassar-Rawls Funeral Home with the funeral service at St. Stanislaus Church where LaRayne was married and her children baptized.
LaRayne’s family wishes to thank Dr. Barbara Davis for great care in her later years. The family would especially like to thank Theresa Wessels for continuing with mom’s communion when actually attending Mass became too difficult and becoming such a great friend. Grandma LaRayne will be sorely missed by those who knew and loved her; a load of great memories will simply have to suffice in the days ahead, the common experience all families share.