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Retha Kay Lofgren

October 18, 1935 — February 28, 2021

Retha Kay Lofgren

Retha Kay Lofgren BONNE TERRE – Retha Kay Lofgren passed away in her home on Sunday evening, February 28, with her sons, Shawn Leonn Lofgren (Bonne Terre), and Kelly Bruce Lofgren (Mason, Ohio), at her side. Kay was 85 years old, and she moved on due to stroke complications. Her father, Fred Alva Edmonds, and her mother, Myrtle Lou Edmonds (Reeves), both of Bonne Terre, preceded her in death.

Kay asked for simple cremation and that no service be held. However, when the COVID-19 crisis hopefully and thankfully winds down, a simple informal celebration of her life may be planned for when gatherings are again possible, perhaps in the Summer or the Fall. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Humane Society or the American Cancer Society are welcome. Meanwhile, we invite anyone who knew her to share thoughts, memories, and condolences, by mail (P.O. Box 559, Bonne Terre, MO 63628) or by email (lofgrenkay@gmail.com). For those who prefer to speak rather than write, you can record an audio file and send it to the email above, or call her phone number and leave a voicemail if you like (573-915-8344). We would also like to put together a compilation of thoughts and stories and remembrances that we will share with all who would like to contribute.

Kay was born in Bismarck, Missouri, and she grew up with her parents in Bonne Terre. Her father was a mechanic and handyman with a genial good nature who showed her how to take care of both things and people, and he encouraged her sense of play. Her mother was a home keeper, gardener and dressmaker with a sharp intellect who instilled in her a love of reading and letters, and fostered her imagination by making dresses Kay designed. They took her traveling as often as they had time and money to do so, to see as many places and people as they could.

Kay loved sports, especially volleyball, the outdoors, dressmaking, friends and family, reading, and play. Along the way, she developed the life-long determination to always do unto others as she would have them do onto her. Upon graduation, she moved to St. Louis, where she worked for Woolworths, and then at Monsanto as a clerk and payroll secretary. She lived in the Gaslight District, among other neighborhoods, and enjoyed her time in the “Big City”, especially parks and dancing, and she developed lifelong friendships, all of whom admired her ability to treat all people well and to develop genuine interest in others and in doing so to do right by herself.

In her early twenties, she and three girlfriends headed for California and settled in San Francisco, where she found employment as a secretary, and she and her girlfriends lived joyfully, if frugally, in the City by the Bay, working hard and enjoying the variety of life there, outdoors, sports, West Coast swing dancing, meeting friends and hosting visits from family. It was here that Kay refined her ability to turn a dime into a dinner plate, and, in general, to make the most out of the least, both literally and figuratively, which would serve her and her soon-to-come family well.

Kay married William Conrad Lofgren, engineer and sport aviation pilot, in 1960, and sons Shawn and Kelly soon followed. They moved to the South Bay, where she worked for ten years at Lockheed as a payroll specialist, as she began to raise her sons. She began with teaching them the vital significance of treating everyone with respect and the skill of being helpful, especially through example. Kay enjoyed bonding with neighbors and area relatives, all of whom marveled at her inexhaustibility in always seeing and believing the best in others, and in their own right, not in comparison or competition with others. After an amicable divorce in the late 1960s, she endeavored to provide her sons and herself with as many growing experiences as possible—immersing them in sports, learning, social and cultural activities, as well as instilling a love of reading that was so important to her. In doing so, and by example, Kay taught her sons not only the deep value of hard work and sacrifice, but also the importance of play and of laughter, and how to do so in a joyful, positive way. She and her sons also attended a non-denominational church, which was full of song and warmth. She embraced the simple teaching of Jesus, and of song, and preferred to steer away from judgmental behavior or of telling others how to behave, opting for accepting people for what they were and seeing the best in that, and her sons were better for that positivity. In 1973, Kay decided to move back to Missouri with her sons to be near her parents.  She became active high school activities, primarily the booster clubs for sports and bands, in support of her sons, but also in support of their classmates in those activities.  Here she demonstrated her knack for listening to others in a way that did right by all:  she often remembered stories of others that they sometimes forgot themselves, and would often share quietly an appreciative observation with them in a way that would help them see themselves in a better light. She loved singing in the choir at the United Centenary Methodist Church in Bonne Terre, traveling, and camping and sightseeing with her sons and parents to as many different places she could. Supporting her sons through college, Southeast Missouri State University for Shawn and University of Missouri Rolla for Kelly, she enjoyed traveling to their colleges and supporting them in their activities. After their graduations, she often traveled to where their careers took them, and experiencing new people and places. She also enjoyed seeing relatives and friends, and enjoyed traveling with her parents during their golden years. At 55, she finally bought her own home. While she did not have the resources to dress up the property inside and out as she would have liked, she approached it instead with her usual effort and imagination, taking something frugal and giving it a simple artfulness that mirrored her ever-hopeful spirit.

She enjoyed friends and family, her cats, gardening, books and crosswords, and visits with her sons, living the sort of gentle, quiet, warm and respectful life she had always treasured. She survive a bout with throat cancer, at 75, and gained ten more years of life with the family, friends, and home she had so earned. She took even greater joy in the small things: a sweet smile, a quiet thought, a playful moment that helped all around her through their hardest times. Kay knew that her sons considered her World’s Greatest Mom, their best friend and their boon companion, and she knew that she would always be with them. Kay was very often heard humming. When asked what she was so happy about, she would smile, and hum, pointing to the simplest thing as if it were extraordinary. One of the joys of a memorable song is how hummable it is.  Kay thought all life was hummable.  She hums happily even now. Family assisted by C.Z. Boyer & Son Funeral Home in Bonne Terre

 

 

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