Lois Nadine Twelves died peacefully at her home on Bainbridge Island, Sept. 15, 2020. She was 94. Because hospice allowed in-person visits, even during COVID, her family was able to be with her until her passing. She had moved to Bainbridge Island this past summer after living in Issaquah for six years. Previously, she lived on Marrowstone Island for nearly 35 years.
Lois genuinely loved life, was quick to offer help, was extremely thoughtful and generous and had an adventurous approach to life. She was known for her quick wit, curiosity and drive to try new things. When opportunities showed up, it didn’t take long before she made a decision to jump in and just do it. As a consequence, she lived a very full life as a wife, mother, grandmother, world traveler and pediatric physical therapist.
Lois grew up in East Wenatchee with her parents, Mandy and Sam Nordwall, sisters Doris, Norma and Ramona and her brother Darrel until moving to Capitol Hill in Seattle when she was 16. Lois attended Broadway High School, completed her bachelor of science degree in zoology at the University of Washington and then left for Duke University, where she had a full scholarship to study pediatric physical therapy.
In 1950, Lois married William Neal (Bill) Twelves, a Boeing electrical engineer, and together they had two children: Charles Murray Twelves in 1951 and Gail Amanda Twelves in 1953. They resided in Bellevue’s Yarrow Point until 1977, when Bill and Lois moved onto their sailboat at Shilshoe Bay Marina.
Lois moved to Marrowstone Island in 1980. While there, she and a girlfriend took a weekend course on how to build a log house from the logs on your land. They both jumped in, and with the help of a growing group of friends with special skills, Lois completed her log home, with a commanding view of Mount Rainier, in 1982. As her daughter Gail put it, “After you’ve seen your mom set choker, drive a skidder and pound rebar, the image of your mother goes through a real paradigm shift.”
True to her drive and spirit, she quickly seized new adventures. Lois kayaked down the Yukon River (she said it was the only time she lied about her age), joined the Peace Corps at 58, traveled the world and was active in the Marrowstone Island Community Association, the Daughters of Norway, Port Townsend Unitarian Church, the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club, the Fruit Club and was an honorary lifetime member of the Marrowstone Island Garden Club.
While managing her 50-plus tree organic apple orchard, she became known as Jefferson Country’s “apple lady” where she won boxes of blue ribbons, sold her Twelves Organic Orchard apples to local food co-ops and also taught tree grafting. Apple trees from her numerous grafts can be found all over the county. She was later proclaimed an Honorary Master Gardener.
Lois reconnected with Ralph Sterley, a grade-school classmate from Wenatchee, soon after she moved from Marrowstone Island to Issaquah. Recently widowed, he tracked her down and soon was driving from Snohomish every week to spend a few days with her. Ralph was also with Lois until she passed.
Lois saw the best in people, was revered by friends and colleagues, served as a mentor and inspiration to many and will be missed by all who knew her. As her granddaughter Laurel described her, “Grandma Loie wasn’t your typical grandmother. She didn’t bake, sew or knit, but she taught me how to live, how to drive, how to swear and how to enjoy a really good apple.” Lois was laid to rest in the Sound View Cemetery on Marrowstone Island in a small gathering of island friends and family. Due to COVID restrictions, a larger remembrance was not possible but is being discussed for summer of 2021.
Lois is survived by her son, Murray Twelves of Moses Lake; daughter Gail Twelves of Bainbridge Island; and her granddaughter, Laurel Stebbins of Seattle. Remembrances can be sent to the family via firstname.lastname@example.org.