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Lewis 'Lew' E. Mace
February 28, 1926 ~ June 5, 2017
June 27, 2017
In a world where sound is measured by decibels, even a whisper can become deafening. Dad was a man of few words, but much laughter and unlimited smiles. He rarely spoke in company, but when he had something to say, the room went silent and even a slight shift in your seat earned an offside glance.

When Dad spoke, you listened carefully.

On June 5, 2017, at 4:35 p.m. in their Deep Creek, Idaho, home, surrounded by his family listening to his son play the guitar Lew had played since he was 14 years old, this beloved and quiet man, Lewis E. Mace, 91, breathed his last and went his way. The silence is deafening.

At Lew and Jean’s request, there will be a family memorial service for the couple at Jean’s passing. Inurnment will be at Pinecrest Memorial Park, Sandpoint, where numerous members of the Goerkes, Deubel and Mace families have been laid to rest.

Lewie was born February 28, 1926, in Coeur d’Alene to Arthur and Mable (Henderson) Mace, recent immigrants to the United States from Canada. At six months of age, the family moved from Coeur d’Alene to Big Sandy, Montana, near the Henderson family ranches in the Bear Paw Mountains.

Lew’s four younger brothers, Harold, Harvey, Lenard and Vernon, were born in Big Sandy, as was Lew’s love of airplanes, horses and mules.

In the late 1930s, a barnstormer pilot landed in a field near Lew's home and Lew was the speediest youngster among many to hand out his event flyers, thus earning his very first airplane ride. From that day forward, Lew knew his ambition was to be a working pilot.

The family was in Troy, Montana, from 1940 to 1942, where the boys were active in sports. Lew especially enjoyed skating in the huge ice rink the town maintained. As the eldest son, Lew delivered the Spokesman-Review and did such a good job the family was asked to move to Sandpoint and take over the entire delivery routes for Bonner and Boundary Counties.

So their father and all five boys delivered papers with three cars, their horse (in winter, as Sandpoint didn't plow residential streets!), numerous bicycles and much footwear.

After Sandpoint High School 1944 graduation, Lew promptly joined the U.S. Air Force. When World War II ended, Lew went into the reserves and returned to Sandpoint.

An evening of fun brought Lew to the local skating rink where he met Jean, who had been accidentally tripped and lay unconscious. Lew rushed to her aid and their love blossomed.

They began skating together and won second place in the Idaho State Skating Championship. Soon after, the couple married and Lew used his GI Bill to attend Farragut College and to finish earning his private, commercial and instructor’s pilot ratings.

For all who knew him, there is no need to say Lew’s life was fully and wonderfully lived.

The young family lived two years in Lincoln, Montana, where Lew built their first cabin, and five years in Sandpoint, where Lew worked on the Cabinet Gorge Dam, for Boyd Stevens Logging and also spent many weekends playing guitar or piano in local bars for extra family money.

In 1953, Lew and friend Larry Morrison went to crop duster school in Yakima, Washington, on to New Brunswick, Canada, flying slurry on the Spruce Bud Worm, which was devastating the provincial forests. After 1954s trip, again to New Brunswick, Lew was offered the position of chief pilot, which he turned down as he had already started his own flying business and was moving his family of five to Bonners Ferry.

The summer of 1955, Lew and family began operating Bonners Ferry Flying Service to serve the farmers of the Kootenai Valley as their crop duster. Folks remember the Stearman bi-plane Lew flew as the roar of the engine was unmistakable as he crisscrossed the districts of the valley during spray season.

Lew also flew for Blue Mountain Aviation in Walla Walla, Washington, where he and his family lived for two years, 1962 and 1963. Lew had seen the need for an automatic flagman as early as 1960 and spent his spare time developing a device to attach to the plane and drop markers as the plane flew across the fields, thus replacing flaggers.

This prototype was left with Blue Mountain Aviation in 1963 when the family moved one last time back to Bonners Ferry to purchase and run the Rex Theatre for the next 37 years. Lew can be remembered, too, as the guy with the smile who took tickets and walked the aisles of the Rex with his ever present flashlight.

Lew continued to run Bonners Ferry Flying Service. Many young people, including Lew's three children and wife, remember the summer “pre-dawn to dark” work hours. Lew also was the local flight instructor and worked for the U.S. Forest Service flying Forest Patrol while holding down a full-time job as setter at the Moyie Mill one summer.

Lew was an avid outdoors man. He and Jean were charter members of the Selkirk Saddle Club. Lew (Jean once!) packed many times with friends into the Bob Marshall Wilderness and was a member of “Gentlemen on Horseback.” He was every inch a Montana cowboy.

His lists of talents and achievements were impressive. Lew worked every job in the woods and mill except truck driver; he was a carpenter who built several lovely homes, a mechanic, a splendidly self-taught “by-ear” musician, a certified master framer for works of art, worked in real estate and was once a car salesman!

Around 1960, the Forest Service decided to use light planes to go as first responders against beginning forest fires. Lew was chosen as the test pilot because of his experience and familiarity with the territory, remarking that fire retardant work was arguably one of the most dangerous types of flying.

Many of his crop dusting friends, who all had the greatest respect for one another and the risks of their profession, lost their lives in the performance of their jobs.

Lew’s life in Boundary County was going well and, as most aerial firefighter pilots were flying out of Lewiston, Lew gradually eased out of the program.

In 1971, he sold his flying business and retired from flying.

Lew is survived by his wife of 70 years, Jean, daughter Judy Mace, daughter Ginger Mace Collins (Dick), son Jim Mace (Suzanne); grandchildren Heather Collins Burnett, Holly Collins Grazette, Chad Mace (Jamie), Jeff Mace (Christine); great-grandchildren Victoria and Calvin Burnett, Aliyah Grazette, Matylda and Carter Mace, Harrison and Adelaide Mace.

Lew was preceded in death by his father, Arthur Mace; his mother, Mable Stearns (George); Jean’s parents, Barney & Rose Deubel; and his four younger brothers.

Lew was a fiercely devoted friend to many. Special and loving memories of “Opa” live on within the families of his brothers, cousins, nieces, nephews and in-laws, both in the U.S. and Canada, and in the families of the brothers and sister of his wife.

A great many of their dear friends and family were able to wish Lew “farewell.”

Donations may be made in celebration of Lew’s life to: Boundary County Museum, 7229 Main Street, Bonners Ferry, ID, 83805; or to EAA Chapter 757, c/o Gene Andrew, President, Boundary County Airport, 64602 US Hwy 2, Bonners Ferry, ID, 83805, for the scholarship fund to help high school students learning to fly.