August 27, 1921 – December 18, 2021
Myrtle Lettis passed away peacefully on December 18 at the age of 100 in her home of 69 years. She was one of those wonderful people you were just happy you had a chance to know. Myrtle was the eldest of three daughters of Harriet and Cornelius Kliewer in Taft, California. Right from the start she was known for her bright mind and intelligence, winning numerous writing contests as a young girl. One such contest awarded her a Shetland pony – during the Depression. She quickly traded the pony for a new encyclopedia set, a true treasure during those times, which remains in the family to this day. Valedictorian of Taft High School and graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley, with degrees in both Mathematics and Economics, Myrtle devoted her life to her husband and their four children. Myrtle married the love of her life, Lloyd A. Lettis, on February 2, 1943 in the midst of WWII and finals (a final in the morning, married in the afternoon, and a final the next day), with Lloyd reporting for active duty three days later. Thus began an adventure that lasted almost 79 years and covered over 60 countries. Always willing to offer a helping hand, Myrtle was PTA President at several schools, Cub Scout Den Mother, Girl Scout Leader, a Board officer in both Los Altos Morning Forum and MV/LA AAUW, as well as a Santa Clara County Library Commissioner for eight years - just a few of the many ways she contributed to her community and left it a better place. Practical, logical, with exceptional common sense, Myrtle lived her life guided by the Golden Rule. Generous with her time, well-known for her heavenly fruit pies, she thought the best of everyone and always had a ready smile of welcome for whomever dropped by. Myrtle loved books and reading. Never idle for a moment, if she wasn’t reading she was knitting, crocheting (each grandchild has an afghan crocheted by her), making jam or canning the produce from her husband’s garden. She was also a whiz at bridge and she and Lloyd enjoyed a long lifetime of bridge games with neighbors and friends.
Family camping trips in the Sierras were some of Myrtle’s happiest times, especially the annual week at Cal Berkeley’s Family Camp, Lair of the Bear, when all their children and grandchildren (and now great-grandchildren as the tradition continues) camped together each year. Myrtle set as a priority to attend all her kids’, and then her grandkids’, sports games, school events, music concerts and theatre performances. Lloyd and Myrtle visited every grandchild at their colleges coast-to-coast, and attended all their graduations from high school, college and grad school if possible. Friends were important and a big part of Myrtle and Lloyd’s lives, especially the second fifty years, after the kids had grown. Wherever in the world they traveled, they made new friends whom they kept in touch with throughout life.
Such graciousness and caring for others over herself is seldom seen these days. Myrtle thoroughly enjoyed her life, and we all have been so blessed to have had her in ours.
Myrtle is preceded in death by her parents and her sister Mary Lou. She is survived by her husband Lloyd; her sister Penny; her children Lloyd Jr.(Tanya), Jim (Celia), Suzanne Epstein (Allan) and Bill (Shelley); her grandchildren Natasha, Stefan, Jim, Ashley, Sean, Aimee, Aaron, Jordan, Stacey, Kirsten, David, Andy, Matt and Kevin. She is also survived by her 26 great-grandchildren as well as many beloved nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.