COTTONWOOD — “It was a shock to be asked, but it’s an honor,” smiled Lydia Deiss.
Greg and Lydia Deiss are the 2021 Cottonwood Summer Fest grand marshals.
“We are very humbled, but we’re new to this,” Greg grinned. “What does a grand marshal do?”
Greg was born in California, then moved to Wyoming where his father was a doctor. He lived a few years in Orofino where his father also practiced, then the family moved back to Wyoming. He graduated from a private high school in Montana.
Lydia was born in Amsterdam, Holland, and immigrated to Alberta, Canada, at the age of 5.
“After the war, there were no jobs and little food,” she recalled. “A family in Canada agreed to sponsor us with a place to live and a job for one year.” She and her family remained in Alberta.
Greg and Lydia met when they both attended college at Walla Walla. They married in Bozeman, Mont., in 1971, and will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in August.
She studied business education and minored in psychology, later going on to obtain her masters in school counseling. He studied biology and both received their teaching certifications. He later obtained his administrative credentials, as well.
The Deiss’ were living and working in Salt Lake City when Lydia finished her masters, and they began to look for a school district where she could best put her skills to use.
“Both our children were grown, so we picked four towns to look over,” Greg said.
They drove to John Day, Ore., Kooskia, Cottonwood and Cascade. When they crested the hill over Seven Mile, from Kamiah overlooking the Camas Prairie and Cottonwood, they pulled over.
“I told Lydia the job [in Cottonwood] would have to be the worst job on the planet for her not to take it,” Greg said.
“It was such a beautiful, breathtaking view,” Lydia agreed.
She did take the job at Cottonwood Joint School District 242 and worked that first year in K-12, then worked more in the middle and high schools and ended up spending most of her time at the high school level.
Greg was hired at Prairie High School and taught a variety of classes, including earth science and math. In 2005, he took a leap of faith when he was asked to be the Prairie Elementary School principal.
“I loved teaching at the high school, and, at first, I didn’t want to leave,” he said. However, when he felt the elementary school was where the district needed him most, he acquiesced.
“And it ended up being a wonderful way to end my career,” he said. He retired in 2011.
Lydia couldn’t agree more.
“I was able to end my career on a high,” she said.
The Deiss’ have spent 24 years in Cottonwood and said they love the community they are in.
“We have formed many wonderful friendships here, many that began within the walls of Prairie schools,” Lydia said.
Daughter, Amanda Williams, is an educator in California, and son, Joshua, is a school counselor in Boise. Greg and Lydia have one granddaughter, 13-year-old Charlie.
In their retirement, the Deiss’ keep active with Greg tutoring [although COVID-19 has curtailed that some], a book club Lydia started, spending time with their family, traveling, playing music (she, piano, and, he, guitar), walking and enjoying each other’s company.
“This really is a wonderful place to be,” they smiled. “Both here in Cottonwood and in life in general.”