Obituary: Lois Gunther

Lois Gunther, 90, longtime resident of Anchorage, Alaska, passed away July 10, 2021 in Prescott, Arizona.

Born September 3, 1930 to Harold and Grace Willard, she was raised in Laramie, Wyoming with two older brothers. After graduating from the University of Wyoming with bachelor degree in science, Lois attended the American College of Lebanon for her Masters. During that time she traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, where her parents were also working, She even traveled on her own from Beirut to Bangkok, a herculean feat at that time. Her world explorations continued long after – through Europe, Asia, Latin America, - both with her husband and separately.

The stories she regaled us with experiences of traveling solo and with family, are vivid memories of not only her own life, but what it must have been like to travel at that time.

She returned to the States and worked at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan as a medical technologist for several years. Her appetite for adventure returned, and she and a friend set off for Alaska. She joked that she went to Alaska for hunting, fishing, and trapping…! Lois worked at the state lab, joined the Nordic ski club, and enjoyed the camaraderie and lifelong friendships of the gang. In 1962 she married Richard Gunther, and they spent 49 years together, raising two children. She was active in St. John United Methodist Church, playing handbells and crafting for the bazaars. Lois was a music lover, to be sure! She had played viola, piano, and organ as a child, and every Sunday after church she would make her way to whoever was playing piano or organ and thank them. She was a member of the Denali ski patrol, spending many weekends at both Arctic Valley and Alyeska with her kids, and can lay claim to being the Lolo, of Lolo’s Leap at Alyeska mountain. In 1989 Lois and Richard retired to Arizona. There, they made many friends in the aviation and ski community, and found another spiritual home in the Prescott United Methodist Church. The weekly ‘lunch bunch’ was a social highlight and they enjoyed swapping travel stories with the group.

Staying active was important for Lois, and she demonstrated it by attending weekly aqua fit classes at Prescott Community College, daily walks and dancing when everyone was watching.

She continued to ski after a diagnosis of macular degeneration for many years; it thrilled her to ski through her late 80s, with a guide, of course, at Park City and Snowmass.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Richard Gunther; brothers, Marvin Willard and James Willard, and survived by children. Walter, of Prescott, AZ, Gretchen, of Anchorage, AK; nieces and nephews, Alice Willard of Falls Church, VA, Susan Willard of Fort Collins, CO, Frederick Willard of Syracuse, NY and Steven Willard of Clifton Park, NY.

Her family will be arranging a celebration of Lois’ life in Prescott sometime in the future. Please consider a donation to the local public radio station in her name.

Information was provided by the family.

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