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Home arrow News arrow News of Record arrow Obituaries for Sept. 27, 2010


Obituaries for Sept. 27, 2010

Mary Heriza

Mary Sheehy Heriza, 98, died Sept. 22, 2010, at Providence Portland Medical Center.
The rosary in honor of Mary will be recited at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at Gray’s West and Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave. Her funeral will be at 9 a.m. Oct. 2 at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, First and Church streets. There will be a graveside service at Mount Hope Cemetery. A luncheon will be provided afterward at St. Francis Parish Hall.

Mary was born on Nov. 8, 1911, at Deer Lodge, Mont., to Hugh Sheehy and Helen Holbrook Sheehy. When she was 6 years old, her family moved to a farm near Durkee. From the first to the eighth grade, Mary attended the one-room Plano School near her home. She attended McLoughlin High in Milton-Freewater and St. Francis Academy in Baker City, where she graduated in 1929.

After finishing high school, she planned to join the convent, but stayed at home for a year to assist her mother, who was ill. During that year, she met Louis Heriza, a handsome young Union Pacific telegrapher.

They were married in January 1931. In 1939, Mary and Louis settled in a house on Ninth Street in Baker City. They raised their eight children in this home, and Mary lived there until April of this year. She was assisted in her 80s and 90s by Sharon Dinger, Mary Schoenfeld, and Lela Ramsey, caretakers who became her dear friends. From this April until her death, she lived in an adult care home, under the loving care of Ileana, Lazlo and Arthur Kerezsi.

Mary was active in the St. Francis Cathedral Altar Society, the St. Francis Academy Mother’s Club and Toastmistress International. She served as vice chairwoman of the Democratic Central Committee for several years.

The high point of her Central Committee service was organizing a Baker City dinner in 1959 for Sen. John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline.

After her children were in school, Mary obtained her real estate license and was employed at Curfman-Ullman Realty for several years. Later, she worked at the Baker County Public Library, where, in addition to other responsibilities, she oversaw the weekly story hour.

In 1970, she became the KBKR Radio “story lady” and read a story each Saturday morning for more than 20 years. Mary was named Oregon Mother of the Year in 1974 and was honored with a banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

She was always adventurous and eager to try new things. In her 60s, she traveled for a month in Italy with her daughter, Beth. When she was 65, she learned to cross-country ski and skied for 15 winters with her good friend, Jean Ebell.

At 70, she learned to swim. In her 80s, she joined her daughter, Alice, for a trip to Australia and a helicopter ride over Victoria, British Columbia. At 83, she joined Eloise Dielman’s writing group and produced two memoirs: “Glimpses of Childhood” and “Random Recollections.”

She gradually lost her sight from macular degeneration, but this didn’t stop her from using a computer, sending daily e-mails, and taking lovely photographs of birds and flowers.

The family expressed appreciation to the nursing and pastoral care staff at Providence Portland Medical Center “for their extraordinary kindness and sensitivity in caring for Mary and her family.”

Survivors include her children and their spouses, John and Liz Heriza, Celeste O’Dell, Alice Ierulli, Robert Heriza and Judy Brookhart, Mary K. Eilers, Clare Heriza and Kouros Shafai, Beth Heriza and Sarah Laughlin, Tony Heriza and Jane Golden; her brother, Richard Sheehy, and his wife, Darlene; sister-in-law, Dona Sheehy; 24 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Louis Heriza; infant son, Edward Heriza; sisters, Ruth Becker and Helen Langley; brothers, Hugh, Thomas and Robert Sheehy; sisters-in-law, Beth Sheehy and Mary Margaret Sheehy; son-in-law, Michael Eilers; and granddaughter, Suzanne Heriza.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the St. Francis Food Bank, 2235 First St., Baker City, OR 97814.


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