Tammy Wallner Bray departed for her welcome party in Heaven on March 28th, 2020 at the Schneidmiller Hospice House of North Idaho. She was lovingly supported by her husband, daughter and son who prayed and sang over Tammy as she took her final breaths. Her illness was brief, and in true Tammy fashion, once she decided that she was ready to go, she didn’t waste any time getting there. The heavenly reunion was surely a glittered fanfare with a rock and roll soundtrack.
Tammy surprised everyone with her arrival, particularly her parents, her 12-year-old brother Michael and 8-year-old sister Marjorie. Born in Tacoma, Washington on November 3rd, 1958 to Shirley and MSG (R-USA) Frederick C. Kaphingst, Tammy never stopped surprising us. When she was two years old, Tammy’s parents bought a home in Dalton Gardens. She spent her entire life in North Idaho, attending Dalton Elementary and eventually graduating from Coeur d’Alene High School in 1977. Tammy attended St Luke’s Episcopal Church throughout her youth and adolescence along with her mother Shirley. Tammy was very active at St Luke’s, participating in Jobs Daughters where she served as Honored Queen and spending summers at Camp Cross. Several of Tammy’s lifelong relationships began in Dalton or at school – Lori Grow, Linda Solderling and Kathy Hosfeld have all been with Tammy since her childhood. It was at CHS that she met the love of her life Tony. Though she was only sixteen at the time, Tammy knew Tony was the one for her. They were married on July 23rd, 1977 at St Luke’s. Tony and Tammy had their first child Sarah in 1979.
Youth played a large role in the dissolution of Tammy & Tony’s marriage in 1980, but it also led to lifelong changes for Tammy. Shortly after she and Tony split, she met one of her closest friends, Sheila Johnson. Sheila told Tammy that Jesus could heal her marriage if she wanted it and the two committed to praying daily for just such a reunion. God was indeed faithful, as the couple were divorced for less than two years before they both dedicated their lives to Jesus and recommitted to each other. Tammy and Tony were remarried at their home church, Post Falls Friends, by Buzz Bloodgood on February 6, 1982. Their second child Aaron was born shortly thereafter, arriving in January of 1983.
Tammy and Tony moved to Osburn, Idaho along with Sheila and her husband David Johnson and Pastors Dick & Sandy Wild in order to plant the Silver Valley Friends Church in 1983. Their circle grew ever larger during the five years spent in the Silver Valley – the Cherington, Welty and Kraus families became part of the Bray extended family, to name a few. The family moved back to Coeur d’Alene in 1989, but the relationships built there were forged in fire and continue to this day. Upon returning, the family attended Vineyard Christian Fellowship under pastors Kevin & Ginny Thienes for over a decade, afterwards joining the leadership team of True North Church in Hayden under Pastor Paul Barber Jr, Pastor Chuck Wilkes and then Pastor Megan Madsen. Tammy was served by her church family in hundreds of ways and has been blessed to serve alongside people who know that faith in action is Jesus personified. Tammy’s family grew as her faith grew.
Tammy’s lifelong dream was to be a teacher. She taught junior high at Lighthouse Christian Academy, Coeur d’Alene Christian Academy and North Idaho Christian School for over 25 years. Her love for her students was massive – every student was her favorite. She was known as Mrs. B and was most definitely the fun teacher. Tammy, along with other staff members, took Lighthouse students on annual getaway trips, often heading to Seattle, Portland or yurt camping on the Oregon coast. Tammy’s teaching career was the joy of her life and many of her students are still a part of her life today.
Whether you called her Tammy, Tam, Mrs. B, or Mom, Tammy’s favorite name was Gram. There has never been a more proud grandparent than Tammy and her eight grandkids were the light of her world. Ethan, Ainslee, Nathanael, Amelia, Jonathan, Jaxon, Addison and Avery have all been fiercely loved since before birth and cherished ever since. Between them, they share a thousand memories of special times with Gram & Pop, of summertime Scout rides, of hours in the pool and goofy inside jokes. The depth of their loss is the truest tribute to Gram’s love we can offer.
Tammy was really so many things, but perhaps best encapsulated by the word “extravagant”. She loved with wild abandon, she laughed with unadulterated joy and she lived with sparkling radiance. Her home is filled with jewel tones and glittery glass, with lights and with music. Her purple hair is perhaps the best physical manifestation of her amazing spirit. There are a thousand things about her that we will miss and a thousand more that can never be duplicated. She was truly one of a kind and we are all incredibly thankful to have been a part of her shimmering circle.
Tammy was preceded in death by her father Fred, her mother Shirley, her brother Michael and her sister Margie. She is survived by her lifelong best friend and husband Tony, daughter Sarah (Melissa), son Aaron (Amber) and niece Trisha Saterfiel, along with the eight grandkids who were lucky enough to be hers.
The family would like to thank Dr Peters of Post Falls Family Medicine and the staff of the Schneidmiller Hospice House for their care and kindness to Tammy in her final weeks. Special thanks to Megan Madsen for all of her loving support. A memorial service will be planned and announced once the Idaho quarantine orders are lifted, but if you would like to honor Tammy in the meantime, please plant some bright purple petunias in your spring garden.