Idaho State Journal, 04/24/14
Thelma Mendenhall Cooley Bauer, beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, and friend passed away peacefully at the home of her son in Chubbuck, Idaho, on April 19, 2014, at the age of 102. Thelma came into this world, delivered by her grandmother, Mary Ann Turner, a licensed midwife, on February 7, 1912, in Niter, ID. She was the second of 10 children born to Leo Smart Mendenhall and Agnes Turner Mendenhall. She can now celebrate a joyous heavenly reunion with her parents, her brothers and sisters: Leo Lavern, Ruby Cleo Terry, Mary Phyllis Clark, Stanley Turner, Warren Lovell, Vivian Eads and Venice Barnhurst (twins), George Lagrande , and Harley Rex, and other family members and friends who have passed on.
Much of her childhood was spent on the family farm in Gem Valley, south of Grace, ID, during the very difficult years of the Great Depression, where she learned the virtue of hard work as she helped with family chores. She told many stories about carrying water from the spring, using a washboard on laundry day, raising chickens and livestock, milking cows, churning butter, trading butter and eggs for groceries, working in the garden, caring for younger siblings, and Saturday night baths.
She and her siblings rode a horse 4 miles to school or walked in the winter, sometimes on “drifts higher than the fence posts”. When they arrived at school they would huddle around the pot-bellied stove to warm up before starting their studies. Later they attended school in Grace, riding in a horsedrawn sleigh with other school children. Later her parents were able to purchase their first car, a Model T Ford.
Because of lifelong vision difficulties, Thelma and three of her siblings attended a special School for the Blind for several years in Gooding, ID, returning home during the summers. After 8th Grade she attended Grace High School.
She especially loved dancing and played several musical instruments including piano, ukulele, and accordion. She also played drums in a dance orchestra, playing at many dances throughout southern Idaho. It was at one of these dances that she met Ernest R. Cooley from Soda Springs. They were married in 1931 in Ogden, UT, and had three children - Marlene, Ralph, and Glen. They were later divorced.
Thelma then moved from Soda Springs to Salt Lake City where she worked at various jobs, carefully saving, and eventually being able to purchase and manage a 5-unit apartment house on 6th South for 30 years. Because of her vision problems she was never able to drive, so she often walked where she needed to go and became very adept at traveling by city bus. She was always very independent and self-sufficient.
Thelma continued to attend dances in Salt Lake where in 1968 she met Magness “Max” Bauer, a widower with a son named Jon, who was about 20 years old at the time. Their love blossomed and they were married and sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on June 27, 1969. After 6 ½ very happy years together, her sweetheart, Max, sadly passed away unexpectedly following a heart attack in 1975.
Thelma was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and served in many different callings in the Primary and Relief Society throughout her life. She had a strong testimony, feeling she couldn’t have survived her troubles without prayer and faith.
In 2006 she moved from Salt Lake to Pocatello to be closer to more of her family members. She continued to live independently until April, 2011, when she moved into the home of her son, Glen, and his wife in Chubbuck.
Thelma credited her longevity to a lifetime of physical activity, eating in moderation, living independently as long as possible, and not smoking. She always looked forward with much anticipation to the annual family reunions and to visits from family and friends who loved and admired her and would come to her for wisdom and advice and enjoy her delightful sense of humor. She was affectionately “Aunt Thelma” to many nieces and nephews and she was always a loyal and avid fan of the Utah Jazz. She lived her life with a twinkle in her eye. May we all be so lucky. Her smile, strength, and determined nature will be dearly missed by all.
She was preceded in death by her parents, brothers and sisters, her sweetheart Max Bauer, son-in-law William G. Gorton, and grandsons Douglas Ralph Cooley, Gentry Jon Bauer, and a great-grandson Bradley George Cooley.
Thelma is survived by her children: Marlene Cooley Gorton of Phoenix, AZ, formerly of Soda Springs, ID, (William “Bill” Gorton-deceased), Ralph E. Cooley (Myrna) of Vernal, UT, Glen L. Cooley (Annette) of Chubbuck, ID, Jon I. Bauer of Taylorsville, UT, 14 grandchildren, 34 greatgrandchildren , and over 40 great-great grandchildren.
The family would like to express their sincere appreciation to the doctors, nurses, and aides of Access Home Health and Hospice for their exceptional kindness and compassion in caring for Thelma and the family.
A celebration of her life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Wilks Funeral Home, 211 W. Chubbuck Rd., Chubbuck, ID. A private family viewing will be held from 7:00-8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 25th, and the family will greet friends at a brief viewing from 10:00-10:45 a.m. prior to services. Interment will follow services at Mountain View Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.wilksfuneralhome.com