Lauretta Elaine Crabtree, 94, passed away Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, at her home on Battle Ridge, near Kooskia.
Lauretta was born April 14, 1926, in Chadron, Neb. She was the second child of Ralph and Peggy (Franey) Barber and was the only daughter. The Barber family raised Hereford cattle and grain during their years on Bordeaux Creek in Nebraska. However, times got difficult and the Dust Bowl was at hand. The Barbers read of cheap railroad land near Weippe. They loaded their truck, hooked a horse trailer to their car, complete with Lauretta’s horse and colt, and headed to Idaho.
After many unfortunate adventures, they arrived in Lewiston to begin their life in the general area. They lived for a time on the Grande Ronde River and Mountain View, Wash., area. Lauretta went to high school in Clarkston, where she was proud to be named class salutatorian in a class of 150. She graduated with honors from Central Washington College and began a teaching career.
Lauretta was infatuated with horses and cowboys all of her young life. She obtained a teaching job in the heart of cow country, on the Madeline Plains, in northeastern California. It was while was teaching in a one-room schoolhouse near Ravendale, Calif., that she met Gordon Crabtree, a local cowboy, and her life changed forever.
She married Gordon on June 12, 1950, and they worked for ranches in the area for a few years, then moved to Clarkston, where Gordon worked on area ranches. Lauretta raised their sons on a very meager income. Their house burned down, and ultimately, Lauretta got a job teaching in Kooskia. They raised their sons and cattle in the Kooskia area with Lauretta teaching school, and Gordon working at Cory’s Mill.
Lauretta obtained her master’s degree in art from the University of Idaho, and taught art at Clearwater Valley High School until her retirement. She was a valued leader of the Valley Livestock 4-H Club for more than 25 years.
She lost Gordon in 1998, but ran her beloved Polled Herefords for a number of years, on her own. No one loved horses and cattle more than Lauretta. However, she counted her greatest life achievement as the raising of her three sons.
Her brothers, Ken and Don, preceded her in death. She is survived by her three sons, Carl (Carolyn), of Grangeville, Laurence (Denice), of Bieber, Calif., and Ray (Gladys), of Kuna. She has five grandchildren, James (Susan) Crabtree, of Seattle, Diana (David) Bingaman, of Spokane, Angela Crabtree, of Moscow, Eric Crabtree, of Fort Collins, Colo., and Tim (Johanna) Crabtree, of Bieber, Calif.; and three great-grandchildren.
Private services were held Nov. 14 because of the current public health situation. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the Central Idaho Art Association, c/o Marlene O’Neil, P.O. Box 756, Grangeville, ID 83530.