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Michael Bushfield, Eureka, MT, is the winner!

Merle Loseth is the answer for Clearwater History Trivia #593, a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country. Watch each day for another clue.

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Monday: Enjoyed singing

Tuesday: Switchboard operator

Mildred 'Merle' Loseth was born Feb. 6, 1936 in Ahsahka to Andrew J. and Dorothy M. Bryant Bobbitt. She and John Douglas Loseth were married Dec. 31, 1956 in Orofino and they spent the next 54 years living in the family residence on Riverside Ave. where he had lived since age five. He passed away in 2010. Merle remained at the family home until her passing Aug. 11, 2013.

She grew up on the family farm on Crow Bench before the moving to Peck at the age of seven in 1943. As a young girl, she helped her mother as a switch board operator for the Peck telephone exchange for Interstate Telephone and General Telephone Co. which was in their home until 1953 when it became part of the Orofino exchange.

Merle attended elementary school in Peck and junior high and high school in Orofino, graduating in 1953. After graduating, she went to work in the business office of Speer Cartridge Works in Lewiston. She took bookkeeping classes and continued working for Speer until 1955 when she returned to Orofino to work in the accounting department at State Hospital North.

In 1960, she began a 35-year career with Clearwater Valley Hospital as head bookkeeper and soon after became the office manager. She then served as the acting administrator in 1963 before becoming business manager. In 1968, while raising her active family and serving as business manager, she completed a course on hospital administration through the University of California and administered by Boise State College. She spent many weekends in Boise and many nights studying to complete the training which helped her to advance in management at CVH.

In 1969, she was promoted to the position of administrator of CVH, which she held until her retirement in 1994. Her vision for the hospital was well received and it flourished under her watch. She worked collaboratively with many staff members, doctors, health professionals and organizations over the years leading the hospital to new levels of professionalism that saw the addition of many new services such as physical therapy, respiratory therapy, home health, hospice and on-site emergency room physicians for the residents of Clearwater County.

Her last major initiative was a $1.28 million capital campaign drive that included donated labor, equipment and volunteer time in the true Orofino 'Maniac' spirit. It resulted in construction of a clinic and administrative offices under one roof at the hospital site.

In addition to her work at the hospital, she was active in a number of health care organizations and promoted legislation that benefited rural hospitals so they could establish medical clinics.

She enjoyed singing with the Clearwater Choraliers which later became the Orofino Community Choir, and was an active member until her passing. She was also active in a number of other community organizations and enjoyed spending time with her Bunco Group and Lunch Bunch. She also enjoyed sewing, and made ribbon winning quilts.

She was a loyal friend who went out of her way to help in various ways. Merle especially loved her grandchildren, She and John took them on many camping trips and motor home excursions. She loved attending school sports activities, dance recitals and educational events.

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Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Orofino 476 0733
Fax: 208-476-4140