By Jon Peterson

Of the Sentinel

Red meat, whiskey and orange juice, and heavy cream as a refreshing drink in the afternoon do not make a healthy diet according to present-day ideas. Add love, faith, and religious conviction to that recipe, and you might be able to explain Laura Foote's 112 years. The Corvallis native died Feb. 1 at Mount St. Joseph's residence in Portland at the age of 112. She lived in the Portland area for 105 years.

Laura Cecilia Foote was born June 16, 1885. Oregon had recently celebrated its 25th year as a state, the automobile was as yet an unfulfilled dream, and the parish she later faithfully attended (St. Patrick's in Northwest Portland), was yet to be founded (1889).

In a memoir transcribed by Mrs. Foote's great-granddaughter Marilyn Nelson in 1978, Mrs. Foote recalled the landscape of Portland as she saw it in her teenage years.

'There were dirt roads in the outlying districts; downtown was all cobblestone, and the main street in Portland at the time was First Street,' said Mrs. Foote, who at the time was a young and limber 93.

Part of Mrs. Foote's formula for everyday survival (besides her daily two ounce dose of whiskey and orange juice) was her strong religious conviction and connection to the Catholic faith.

'She went to Mass every day for most of her life,' said Kathryn Magnuson, 62, Mrs. Foote's granddaughter who lives in North Plains. 'Religion was always the main thing in her life. She lived faith, hope and charity.'

Before attending St. Vincent's nursing school from 1905 to 1909, Mrs. Foote spent two years training to become a sister. Magnuson said that she chose nursing because of her concern for others. Teaching was not something that Mrs. Foote was particularly fond of, and that was what the sisters concentrated on.

'She always gave of herself to others,' said Magnuson. 'That's just who she was.'

Mrs. Foote graduated second in her class at St. Vincent's and spent 57 years working for four doctors, out of simple joy for the work she did. She was seen praying the rosary on her walks to work.

'Nursing was different than today, except for one thing. . . . Caring for people is no different,' Mrs. Foote reported in the transcription.

Mrs. Foote, a Catholic of Irish and German descent, lived independently and attended St. Patrick's Church in Northwest Portland until 1983, when she moved to Mount St. Joseph's. A nurse for most of her life, Mrs. Foote cared for others on and off the job, and when the time came for others to take care of her, Mrs. Foote was an illustration of acceptance and understanding.

'She never had a harsh or cantankerous word for the nurses who took care of her,' said Magnuson, who made an effort to visit her great-grandmother at least once a week.

'She always used to say, 'You can't sew pockets in your shroud.' '

Survivors include seven grandchildren: Magnuson, North Plains; Marion Tinsley, Arlington, Wash.; Laura Agnese, Oceanside; George Foote, Portland; Blanche Hansen, Cassie Trainer, and Joan Foote, all of Emmett, Idaho; 13 great-grandchildren and 26 great-great-grandchildren. Her only son George preceded her death in 1988.