In Memory of




Obituary for Mara Lou Denham

Known for her Laugh
Loved for her Heart
Lou Denham, originally from McMinnville and formerly of Lebanon, passed away in Albany on July 4, 2019, at the age of 93.
She was born December 19, 1925, in McMinnville, Oregon, to John Lewis Sparks (4/13/1894 – 10/13/1965) and Ida Ellena Hendry Sparks (8/25/1896 – 9/6/1988) and had one brother, Dale Sparks who predeceased her.
After graduating from McMinnville High School, where she was a drum majorette, she began her banking career on October 1, 1943, at US National Bank in McMinnville. She later met her first love, Frederick Junior “Curley” Hantze (6/18/1918 – 1/6/1989). They married August 2, 1947, and moved to Lebanon, Oregon. Lou continued to work in local banks; First National Bank and Bank of Lebanon before being rehired by US National Bank on 9/1/1964, when they opened a branch in Lebanon. During her banking career, Lou was also very involved in local chapters of BPW and the American Institute of Banking serving as chairman in both organizations. Lou remained employed with the bank until ultimately retiring in 1989.
After the passing of Curley Hantze, Lou later met the second love of her life, Ralph H. Denham (7/23/1921 – 8/8/2002). They married July 8, 1989, and continued to live in Lebanon until 2001 when they moved to the Mennonite Village in Albany. After Ralph passed, Lou remained in Albany and resided in an Adult Family Home and finally at Timberwood Memory Care facility.
Lou loved to dance, even teaching her brother how to do the jitter bug so she could have a dance partner. Her other interests included bowling, traveling and camping with her family. One favorite camping spot was on the family’s lot over-looking Yaquina Bay in Newport. Even though Lou did not grow up on a farm, she learned to ride horses, pull a horse trailer and became a co-leader of her daughters’ 4-H Horse Club so she could be involved in her daughters’ activities. Lou would often spend her only yearly vacation from the bank, either hauling horses to and from the county and state fairs or hauling hay for her girls’ horses. She rarely took vacations for herself.
Lou knew no stranger and was willing to talk to anyone. She had an infectious laugh that everyone knew and a willingness to help her family and friends.
While living in Lebanon she attended St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. When she moved to Albany she would attend St. Albin’s Episcopal Church.
Lou is survived by her daughters, Monita Hantze (Jeff) Cheever of Newport, Oregon; and Melanie Hantze (Dean Jenkins) of Olympia, Washington, as well as her grandson, Tristan Jenkins Hantze and step granddaughter, Laura Jenkins. Lou was fortunate to also have step-daughters, Pam (Les) Osborne of Lebanon, Colleen Glenn (deceased) and Pat Kenyon (deceased), and step-son, Frank (Joan) Glenn of Coos Bay. Lou is also survived by step-grandchildren Steve (Heather) Kenyon of Lebanon and Shawna (Eric) Blackwell of Texas; and step great grandchildren; Bonnie Jo (Devin) Peckfelder of Lebanon, Sarah (Zach) Marler of Lebanon and Maggie Kenyon of Lebanon.
The family wishes to thank the many friends and family who showed their love to Lou by sending cards and visiting her during her final years when she was residing in assisted living facilities. In particular, we want to thank Marla and Bruce McKee, Paula Harden, Laura Wallace Dickson, Amy Williams, Don and Barbara Pierce for their numerous visits, cards, and assistance to Lou and her family.
A celebration of Life will be held SATURDAY, AUGUST 17, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Lebanon, Oregon. The family suggests that any memorial contributions can be made to St. Martin’s Church, 257 E Milton Street, Lebanon, Oregon 97355; BrightFocus Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, 22512 Gateway Center Drive, Clarksburg, American Macular Degeneration Foundation, P.O. Box 515, Northhampton, MA 01061-0515, or a charity of your choice.