In Loving Memory of GMF Docent – Lola Orris Ritter Bowen Stancil

Lola Orris Ritter Bowen Stancil

Lola was a docent at the Washington state Governor’s mansion for 32 years and was awarded emeritus status for her loyal service. She was a true renaissance woman accomplishing and doing much in her life.

Some highlights and memories include:

Her early memories include many things. Some of her memories included World War I and her uncle Floyd Ritter coming home from the war. She remembered surviving the famous Spanish Flu when she was about 3 years old. She also saw people in the street in Centralia wearing masks over their faces so they would not get the Spanish Flu.

She was the fourth generation that lived in Skookumchuck Valley. Lola was a descendant of the Sidney and Nancy Ford Family who settled on what became Ford’s Prairie on May 25, 1846. In 1851, the Oregon Territorial Legislature appointed county officials to the new Thurston County established at Olympia, which included Sidney S. Ford, as County Commissioner.

After her first husband died Lola went back to college and later sold real estate. She also taught gourmet cooking classes at Centralia College.

There was a life changing event for Lola when the bicentennial wagon train came through Tenino. She rode it one day and wanted to continue going eastward on the pilgrimage across to Valley Forge. It took six months of 1975 and six months of 1976.

Gov. Daniel Evans appointed her as the official representative for the state of Washington. She took her old leather-bound book and had people across the U.S. signed it, including President Gerald Ford in the Oval Office. Mrs. Ford had signed it earlier in the Midwest.

Lola married Clarence Stancil in 1985. Clarence liked horses and Lola liked covered wagons. It was a perfect match. They went on the John Wayne Trail by covered wagon on their honeymoon. In 1989, they were the wagon masters for the centennial of the state of Washington. The wagon train went from Fort Vancouver to the end of the trail in Tumwater. Thousands of people were involved. They also were wagon masters for the 1995 wagon train. Lola published a cookbook titled “From the Back of the Wagon” and sold out two printings.

Thank you, Lola, for your inspiration and love of life and service to our community.