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Sallee Jeannine Gasser
May 24, 1930 ~ January 8, 2024 (age 93) 93 Years Old
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Sallee Jeannine Cox Gasser - a cherished wife, mother, and grandmother, and a prominent member of the community - passed away on January 8, 2024 in Pocatello, Idaho. She was 93.
Sallee, the daughter of Hulda and Kenneth Cox and sister to Barbara Cox Brown, was born May 24, 1930 in Plano, Idaho, and spent her childhood in nearby Parker, outside of Rexburg. She grew up during the Depression and recalled wearing flour sacks, going barefoot, and trading the family car for a bicycle because gasoline was too expensive. Even so, her childhood was happy and full of fun misadventures - sneaking off to explore forbidden places or swim in the nearby canals.
Sallee's family briefly lived in Idaho Falls before moving to Pocatello in 1943. Sallee attended Idaho State University, where she became the first president of the founding chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, excelled academically, acted in a school play (as the cigarette girl), and played cello in the symphony orchestra.
In 1951, she married Clark Gasser and they moved to Washington D.C. while Clark attended George Washington Law School. While there, two daughters were born: Katie in 1952 and Jan in 1956. They returned to Pocatello in 1957 and their final child, John was born in 1959.
While raising the children, Sallee became active in the League of Women Voters and was elected state president from 1979-1981, sparking a lifelong interest in politics. She became Richard Stallings' campaign manager, helping him to become elected as a representative in the U.S. House, and win three reelections. He was one of many Idaho politicians Sallee championed and supported, including Sen. James Ruchti; the late Roger Chase, a former Idaho house representative and Pocatello mayor; Donna Boe, another former Idaho house representative, and others.
Sallee's efforts did not go unnoticed; she received a hand-written thank you from John Evans in 1982, when he was Idaho's governor, and an invitation to President Bill Clinton's inauguration. Throughout her life, she was also the recipient of numerous awards celebrating her achievements and volunteerism.
Sallee prized education and went back to ISU in the 1980s to earn a degree, as marriage interrupted her first effort. By chance, she and her son John (then 19 or 20) ended up in the same Introduction to Government class (much to his chagrin). "She got an A, and I got a C," John recalled. Sallee graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics at the age of 53.
Sallee was an active volunteer and held leadership positions for a number of organizations, including St. Anthony hospital guild; YWCA Board; Pocatello Art Center; PEO, a women's work group, Pocatello's Chief Theater, and Juniper Hills Country Club.
Spearheading the creation of Ardith's Garden at the Edson Fichter Nature area in honor of her beloved friend was the project closest to her heart. Sallee worked tirelessly until her 92nd year to maintain the garden - planting flowers, weeding the beds, and hauling water from the Portneuf River, one sloshing bucket at a time.
After her husband's passing in 2001, Sallee enjoyed traveling to 20 different countries in Europe, Africa and Asia with her dear friend, Virginia. In her journal, Sallee noted that, "In each country, art galleries and historical sites were always first on my list to visit". She had many wonderful experiences, but in all her travels, said a rafting trip down Idaho's Middle Fork of the Salmon River was the best vacation of her life.
She formed many lasting friendships through antiques clubs, card games, Sunday breakfasts at Oliver's, and many other social events and activities.
Sallee is survived by her two daughters, Katie Sierra and Jan Flandro, and her son John Gasser (Mary Migeon); by her grandchildren Stacie (Jason) Murphy, Scott Oswald, Kelsey Flandro, Carly Flandro (Jake Kratochvil), and Katie Maple; and by her great grandchildren Ethan, Sasha, Jaxson, and Josephine. We will miss her forever.
A celebration of life open-house will be Saturday, February 10, 2024, from 3-6 pm at Juniper Hills, where Sallee was an active member for more than 50 years.
In lieu of flowers, the family would welcome donations to the Pocatello Art Center in Sallee's name.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Cornelison Funeral Home, 431 N. 15th Ave., Pocatello. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.cornelisonfh.com