Shelley Lafayette

August 14, 1937 ˜ October 30,

Shelley was born in Winchester, IN, to William and Allene Spence. She moved often in her early years, as her father sought work in a country still emerging from the Great Depression, but she never lost her sentimental identity as a Hoosier.
Always adventurous, she joined the Civil Air Patrol in high school, and the Air Force after graduation, serving in the 8th Air Force as a photo interpreter. It was there that she met her future husband of 61 years, Robert, with whom she would move out west to Montana, and eventually to Vancouver, WA, in 1970, finding an immediate home in the local dog show community.
Restlessly striving for self-improvement, she received her nursing degree at Clark College, where her class notes were sold for many years thereafter at the bookstore. She made a career as a registered nurse, first at Bess Kaiser, and later in hospice care, where her kindness, empathy, and generosity of spirit provided comfort to her grateful patients.
A lover of books since childhood and an easy, eager conversationalist, she instilled these passions into others and generously and enthusiastically absorbed others’ interests in return. Always a seeker and a voracious learner, she studied a diversity of subjects throughout her life, including genealogy, Russian, art, and a broad quilt of random topics whenever they attracted her interest. Her explorations led her down an eclectic spiritual path from Buddhism through Northwest Coast Native American spirituality, where her lifelong artistic gifts flourished and her abiding love for nature enlarged itself.
Surviving a stroke, a bout of cancer, and COVID-19, she seemed unsinkable, but on Saturday evening, Oct. 30, surrounded by her family, the journey of this generous and adventurous spirit came to an end. She is survived by her daughters, Andrea and Lora; her sons, David and John; four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her brother, Steve; and her husband, Robert. She is no longer with us, but she will forever be our Mamabear.
The timeless dream of artists
To tame with description
And finite palettes
The Feral and Inexhaustible Forever
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Published by The Columbian on Nov. 7, 2021.
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