On June 25th, 2020, B.Lou Speight passed away peacefully from cancer surrounded by friends in her Northeast Portland home of fifty-five years.
B.Lou was born during a snowstorm on January 12th, 1930 in Susanville, California to Hazel and Frank Russell. After her father’s death in 1934, her mother brought B.Lou and her older brother Frank Richard to Portland to live with B.Lou’s grandmother (who was related to the Hershey chocolatiers). B.Lou grew up in Northeast Portland, and she spent almost her entire life there; she loved Portland dearly. After graduating from Jefferson High School in 1947, she attended University of Oregon, where she was an active member of the Sigma Kappa sorority. She remembered her time at University of Oregon and in Sigma Kappa fondly for the rest of her life, and some of her closest friendships were forged during her college years. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Education in 1952, she began teaching at Buckman Elementary School in Portland. It was there that B.Lou met Dick Speight, a fellow new teacher whom she befriended when she began sharing her lunch with him every day. Dick and B.Lou were married in Portland on July 26th, 1958, and they shared a happy marriage until Dick’s death in 2004. After a brief stint in Michigan (Dick’s home state), they moved back to Portland, where B.Lou taught young children at public elementary schools for 22 years. She also worked as the proofreader for the editor of The Oregonian, which fulfilled her love for writing.
B.Lou cared deeply about providing a safe haven for anyone and everyone in her life. Her home was open to all who needed a place to stay, and she helped guide numerous young adults as they designed their own career paths and life plans. She loved reading, drawing, painting, completing crossword puzzles, watching the Oregon Ducks’ sports games, and nurturing her tomato plants. She will be remembered by her loved ones as an independent and intelligent woman who made sure that every single person in her life felt important and loved. Her legacy lies in the many, many lives that she touched and the joy that she brought to all those who were lucky enough to know her.
She is survived by her nephews Richard Russell of King Salmon, Alaska and Roger Russell of Grants Pass, Oregon and her nieces Leslie Newbold and Stephanie (Barney) Speight, both of Vancouver, Washington. She also is survived by countless friends who genuinely consider her to be family.
Her ashes will be interred next to her husband’s cremains in Portland’s Rose City Cemetery. The family suggests remembrances be sent to the Speight Scholarship Endowment, OHSU Foundation, 1121 SW Salmon Street, Portland, OR 97205. A celebration of her life will be held at a later date once the COVID-19 pandemic has resolved.
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