Mary Arthur

Mary Arthur

2/26/1949 — 11/14/2023

Mary Sharon Lee Arthur, went to be with her ancestors on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. She passed away at her home surrounded by family. She was born Feb. 26, 1949, to Joshua Benjamin Arthur and Rosaline Hazel Hayes Arthur, in Lapwai.

Mary was an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe and a direct descendent of Chief Whitebird of Lamtaama Band. Mary’s paternal great-grandfather, Mark Arthur, was a survivor of the Nez Perce War of 1877. He escaped into Canada to join Sitting Bull of the Lakota. As a child, Mark walked over the Bitterroot Mountains to make his way back to Kamiah. Mary’s maternal great-grandfather, Ralph Armstrong, was orphaned as a child and captured with Chief Joseph. Ralph was sent with Chief Joseph to Oklahoma then to Nespelem, Wash. Mary’s great-great-grandfathers Whitebull and Swan Necklace were warriors who fought in the War of 1877.

Mary lived in Lapwai most of her life with her 12 siblings. Her fondest memories growing up were staying with her grandmother Lucy at the ranch in Garden Gulch; playing softball for her uncle and aunt, Bill and Geneva Stevens; and staying with her cousins and traveling all over the Northwest playing softball.

When she was young, she was raised by her uncle Russ and aunt Juanita Spencer. Later in life she went to Santa Fe, N.M., to finish school at the Institute of American Indian Arts. While there, she met Spencer Lee Twohatchet Jr. After she graduated they moved to his home state of Oklahoma, on the Kiowa Indian Reservation where they were married at Hog Creek in 1967. Starting a family, they moved back to Idaho. Later Spencer and Mary divorced. She continued to reside in Lapwai and raise their children.

Mary worked multiple occupations in her lifetime: turkey plant, Clinton, Okla.; cassette tape factory, Oklahoma City; Pineewaus Café, Lapwai; Potlach mill, Lewiston; fire lookout tower, Payette, Idaho, National Forest Service; worked at P.K.’s for her friends Jack and Sandy Seeley, Lapwai; Clearwater River Casino, Lewiston, as a shuttle driver and then surveillance officer until she retired in 2010.

Mary was taught by her oldest sister Helene to bead work. People treasured Mary’s many beaded barrettes, beaded rose hand bags and wall hangings. She was known for her excellent bread-making skills, yeast rolls and fry bread. She would help out in the community by providing bread at events and services. She was a strong believer of the Nimiipuu religion, Waaluset. She said she enjoyed hearing her grandfather Sam sing and drum and watching her grandma Lucy dance. Mary loved spending time with family at various places and gatherings: Arthur’s Fireworks, Mud Springs, family barbeques and stickgames. She was a huge Gonzaga Bulldogs and Chicago Cubs fan. She especially enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was a protective woman who loved her entire family and always enjoyed the company of all her nieces and nephews, who meant the world to her.

Mary Sharon Lee is survived by her siblings: Benjamin (Constance) Arthur, Marcus Arthur, Patricia Arthur, Elizabeth (Vincent) Attao, Ralph (Linda) Arthur; and Virginia (Tony) Dick. Mary’s surviving children: Hazel Ruby (Tote Lopez) Twohatchet, Peggy (John) Vanwoerkom, and Keith Twohatchet. Also, Mary’s 12 grandchildren: Felicia (Alex Meninick) Twohatchet, Steven Lopez, Denise Lopez, George (Taila Bybee) Lopez, James Peterson, Shantel Peterson, Ava (Jon Taisacan) Vanwoerkom, Sonia Vanwoerkom, Timothy Vanwoerkom, Jonathan Vanwoerkom, Clifton Twohatchett II, Michael (Taneesha Ellenwood) Twohatchet. Mary is survived by nine great-grandkids: Elissa, Leo, Adrian, Alanzo, Arianna, Abriella “Abbi,” Matteo, Anthonie “Tony,” and Karen.

Those who passed and are waiting to welcome Mary includes: parents Josh Arthur and Hazel Hayes Arthur; grandparents: Daniel Arthur and Rachel Penney Arthur; Sam Hayes, Lucy Armstrong and Dave Isaac; children: Clifton Lee Twohatchet I and James Benjamin Twohatchet; siblings: James “Jimmy” Arthur, Veronica “Boga” Bulltail, Helene Sisson, Webster “Webby” Arthur, Joanne “Jo” Arthur; brothers-in-law: Vic Sisson and Vincent “Ben” Attao; sister-in-law Constance “Connie” Arthur; aunts: Juanita Spencer, Loretta Antell, Trudy Aylor, Nickie Bone, Frances Paisano, Marie Allman; uncles: Marcus Arthur, Daniel Arthur Jr., Dale Antell, Ferris Paisano Sr., William Allman Sr., and Perry Isaac; nephews: Guy Bulltail, Gerry Arthur, TJ Arthur, Tony “Bosco” Arthur; nieces: Brenda Arthur, Kim Arthur; grandson: Robert “Fab” Hugs; and granddaughter: Rosario Attao-Greene.

Services will take place Friday, Nov. 17, including: dressing and private family viewing in the morning at Vassar-Rawls Funeral Home, in Lewiston, followed by 1 p.m. general and simple services at the Pineewaus Community Building in Lapwai, with seven drum singing. The funeral dinner will follow services. Mary will be cremated (no burial service).


Service Information

Date & Time
Friday, November 17, 2:00 PM
Pi Nee Waus Community Center
Corner of Main Street & Birch Avenue
Lapwai, Idaho 83540

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