Wanda Alsaker lived a long and wonderful life. Her 96 years were filled with family, friends, and involvement in many clubs and community organizations.
Wanda was born in Missoula to Arthur Benjamin, “AB” Cook and Myrtle Luella (Swanson) Cook. She grew up in Bonita, MT, graduated from Missoula County High School in 1941, then attended and graduated from the Modern Business College.
On the high school bus, Wanda met Harry Gilbert Alsaker, the love of her life. These bus rides fostered a friendship that turned into a loving 64-year marriage. In 1941, while they were dating she wrote in her diary, “Oh he is so swell, I love him with all my heart.” They married on October 12, 1943 in Kearney, Nebraska where Harry was temporarily stationed during WWII. Following the war, they returned home to Missoula to raise their children, Tom and Kathy.
She was a vibrant, outgoing, caring, compassionate lady, who grew up on the family ranch where she worked along side her mother, gardening, raising chickens, baking, cooking and sewing while her two younger sisters helped her father with the horses, cattle and ranch duties. She learned it took work, cooperation, respect and love to raise a family. She carried these life lessons from the ranch to her adult life where she raised a family, supported her husband interests, worked as a bookkeeper for her and Harry’s business, The Optical Center, and immersed herself in the Missoula community.
Wanda dedicated her time and energy to the 4-Corners Extension Homemakers, Red Hats, TOPS and the American Red Cross Grey Ladies. Her passion for politics, and confidence as a woman led her to serve as the Chairman of the Missoula County Republican Central Committee, President and Treasurer of the Missoula County Republican Women, Western District Representative on the Montana Republican State Executive Board, and in 1972 she was a Montana Delegate to the National Republican Convention in Miami FL. Wanda’s involvement in clubs matched her outgoing personality, her desire to work and her love of people.
Wanda enjoyed getting her family together for holidays, cooking and making her famous cinnamon rolls, Christmas cookies and Oliebols. Her cookie jar was almost always full so when her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren stopped by, they could enjoy conversation and homemade cookies.
Wanda had many roles in her long life, her most cherished was her marriage and companionship with her husband and taking care of her family. As a mother she taught by example, she didn’t need to raise her voice, her children knew what was expected by watching her. Years later she repeated this influence with her three granddaughters. She took care of them and they observed her taking care of others, volunteering in the community, baking bread and cookies for friends, caring for their great-grandmothers, and following her passion for politics, running for elected offices, working on many campaigns and as an election judge. She taught her granddaughters and they worked along side her, it is what Wanda did, she got involved and was a forever teacher.
Later in life, Wanda enjoyed genealogy. She was determined to date her ancestry back to the Civil War, and she did! She spent many years visiting libraries, cemeteries and homes of her ancestors across the country. She discovered her Montana roots began in 1880, prior to statehood, making her family one of the founding settlers in Montana, initiating six generations of Montanans. She wore this badge with pride.
Wanda and her sister Lola Mae were more than sisters they were best friends. The activities changed but the love and conversations only grew fonder as the years past.
Wanda was preceded in death by her parents, her loving husband, and her infant sister Betty Jean Cook and son-in-law, Rod Oelke.
Survivors include: her son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Laura Alsaker, daughter Kathy Oelke, of Missoula; granddaughter, Lori (Sid) Seay and children KC (Shawna) McDonald, and son Kason; Kyla (Tommy) Jaeger, and children Kendyl, Blane, Rhett and Ramzey; Kaitlyn Miller and daughters, Kamryn and Kynlee; Kody (Becky) McDonald and daughter Mia; granddaughter, René (Pete) Nazelrod and children Derrek and Lexa; granddaughter, Kim and (Jim) Lucostic and children Kelsey (Taylor) Selig and Seamus; and sister Lois Sol of Oklahoma and Lola Mae LeProwse of Missoula.
Don’t cry because her life ended, smile because her life happened.
The family extends deep appreciation for the compassionate care she received from Edgewood Memory Care, and Hospice of Missoula.
Memorial and Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 235 South 5th Street West, with a reception following in the fellowship hall. Preceding the memorial a short Interment service will be at Missoula City Cemetery, 2000 Cemetery Road, on Monday March 2, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to First Presbyterian Church or Hospice of Missoula, 1900 South Reserve Street, Missoula MT, 59801.