Details of the woman, Kathleen Skeen, who's death was reported last weeK.
Steven Skeen will miss his wife's upbeat take on life. Kathleen Skeen died of H1N1 flu last Saturday at a Walla Walla hospital. The Pendleton woman and a Milton-Freewater boy are Umatilla County's first two swine flu deaths.
Both victims had underlying physical problems. Kathleen had a degenerative lung disease that forced her to retire a few years ago from her job with the Oregon Department of Justice.
She was pretty upbeat about it - she didn't let it get her down," Steven said. "She was always happy - she tried to look on the positive side of things."
The 40-year-old loved to camp and fish, he said, hauling trout out of Thief Valley Reservoir just this summer. His wife, a bookworm, found joy in watching the couple's blended family grow and pass milestones. Last spring, when her son Jeremy and stepchildren Alex and Kia graduated together from Pendleton High School, Kathleen cried tears of pride.
"She was ecstatic," Steven said.
Last week, Kathleen entered the hospital with flu symptoms and respiratory problems that had dogged her for almost two weeks. Her husband, three sons and three step-children were concerned, but not overly alarmed since Kathleen was hospitalized periodically to stabilize her ailing lungs.
"For her to be in the hospital wasn't an uncommon thing," Steven said. "It was business as usual."
Kathleen, a Hermiston High School graduate, was there about a day-and-a-half when things went awry.
"Suddenly, within a matter of hours, things went very bad, very fast," Steven said.
He paused. "It's hit us pretty hard." The Skeen's once noisy house now seems incredibly quiet. Two of Kathleen's sons have moved in with their father and Kathleen, of course, is gone. Steven said his wife didn't fear H1N1, though she planned to get vaccinated against the virus."She really wasn't concerned about it," he said. "What she'd heard from her doctors was that it wasn't worse than any other flu."
The couple remained buoyantly optimistic. "We always knew something could happen," Steven said. "We just never expected it to."
When asked what he will miss most about his wife, Steven paused."Everything," he said, finally.Memorial services were at 2 p.m. Saturday at Burns Mortuary Chapel in Pendleton.http://eastoregonian.com/main.asp?FromH ... ctionID=48