MARICOPA — Thelma Lorene (Wagner) Foreman, 82, died on Dec. 23, 2019, after a long illness while in the care of Hospice of the Valley, Ryan House in Phoenix.

Mrs. Foreman was born to Zellah and Bufford Wagner in Ralston, Oklahoma, on Jan. 12, 1937. The family moved to Arizona during the grips of the Great Depression with the hope of a prosperous new life. They settled first in Flagstaff for two years before relocating to Stanfield. She had wonderful memories of her grade school in Casa Grande and her middle school in Stanfield. The Wagner family lived in the shadow of Red River Land & Cattle Co., owned and operated by John Wayne and Louis Johnson. During cotton harvest season, she would stay with her grandparents, Josie and Lee Yarbrough, in Eloy. She would fondly recall how exciting this bustling little town was during her youth. As a teenager she toiled many long days toting a 50-foot sack picking cotton alongside her parents, siblings and other family members.

The Wagner family later moved to the Ak-Chin Indian Community, where they became firmly rooted for many years. During this time she took a daily bus ride down a long, bumpy and unpaved road from Maricopa to Casa Grande Union High School. She was a majorette in both her junior and senior years and graduated near the top of her class in 1955. Her first job out of high school was working at the Casa Grande Mills textile plant for two years. She married Joe Foreman and began their family, living on Bogle Farms south of Maricopa for many years before eventually moving into her last residence “in town” on Dallas Smith lane. They had one daughter.

She had the great fortune to get a position with the Maricopa Unified School District, which would not only change her life for the better but also countless others during their school careers. She became a school secretary, but it was widely known that she could tackle any task. She was always the first person to greet new students with a kind, caring and reassuring smile. She was always the calming and understanding presence that generations of Maricopa school children (and their parents) needed. She worked for the district for 34 years and also served on the Maricopa school board with great pride. She missed the school after retirement but was always available to anyone who needed her. In her retirement years, she was given an unexpected role as a caregiver to her husband and sister, Donna, for nearly a decade. She put herself aside in providing compassionate and loving care to both prior to their passing.

She was preceded in death by her husband; a granddaughter, Lauren Ellena; and six siblings, Bobbie June, Sonny, Jimmy, Danny, Donna and Mike. Survivors include a daughter, Josie Lee Argyros, and two grandsons. 

Memorial contributions may be made to: Hospice of the Valley (Ryan House), 110 W. Muhammad Ali Way, Phoenix, AZ 85013.

Visitation beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 5, followed by a memorial service at 2, at J. Warren Funeral Services, Cole & Maud The Gardens Chapel in Casa Grande.

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