Obituaries for the week of Sept. 30 to Oct. 4

October 04, 2002 12:00 am

John Hall

John Thomas Hall, 54, of Union, a former Baker City resident, died Oct. 2, 2002, at his home.

His graveside funeral will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Mount Hope Cemetery. Loveland Funeral Chapel of La Grande is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Hall was born on March 16, 1948, to Thomas "Tommy" H. and Dona F. Thompson Hall of Baker City. He married Kathy M. Bell on Jan 16, 1967, at San Diego. The couple moved to Union from Pomeroy, Wash.

Mr. Hall worked as a heavy equipment operator and was a member of the Local 701 Heavy Equipment Operators. He also was a member of the National Thoroughbred Association and the National Quarter Horse Association.

He loved to spend time riding horses. John was an avid hunter and loved both deer and elk hunting.

Survivors include his wife, Kathy, of Union; his children, Chet Hall of Hermiston and Jamie Hall of Pendleton; his mother, Dona Hall of Pendleton; and his brothers, Rob Hall of Baker City and Bill Hall of Stanfield.

He was preceded in death by his father, "Tommy" Hall.

Dorothy Osterman

Dorothy L. Osterman, 91, a resident of Sunridge Retirement Community in Pendleton died Monday, Sept. 30, 2002 in Pendleton.

Her graveside service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Evergreen Memorial Park in McMinnville. Vault interment will be afterward.

Mrs. Osterman was born Sept. 12, 1911, at McMinnville. She was a daughter of Oliver Warren and Dora Ellen Leach Inskeep. Her great-grandfather owned the stage stop at Jordan Valley.

She was raised and educated at McMinnville. She started working for Macy & Son Funeral Home part time during high school. Upon graduation, she went to work full time at Macy's.

She married Everett Osterman of Lakeview on April 3, 1955. She became a licensed funeral director and together they owned and operated the Ousley Osterman Mortuary at Lakeview.

In 1982, they sold the funeral home to Jim Huffstutter and retired. Everett died on Sept. 5, 1991. At that time, Dorothy moved to Helix where her sister, Lois Coles, resided. She made her home at Helix until 2000 when they moved to the Sunridge Retirement Center.

Mrs. Osterman was very active in Lakeview. She was a member of the Eastern Star, OAE, the Needle Club, Daughter of the Nile, Soroptimist International of Lakeview and a longtime member of the Presbyterian Church.

Dorothy loved to socialize and enjoyed playing bridge with friends. She enjoyed sewing and was an excellent cook. In her later years, she enjoyed reading and visiting with friends and family.

She is survived by her sister, Lois Coles of Pendleton; her daughter, Carole Smerker; grandchildren, Heidi Pasek and Swan Smerker, all of Great Falls, Mont.; nephews and nieces-in-law, Jim and Nancy Coles of Pendleton, Ron and Kathy Coles of Medford, David and Barbara Coles of West Linn and Roger and Dawn Coles of Baker City; and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Everett Osterman; brother-in-law, Bernal Coles; and her parents.

Memorial contributions may be made to Helix Bapist Community Church or to the Women's Presbyterian Association of Lakeview. This may be done through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.

Jack Hewitt

Jack O. Hewitt, 92, a longtime Baker City resident, died Sept. 30, 2002, at St. Elizabeth Health Care Center.

Disposition was by cremation. There will be no funeral as requested.

Jack was born on May 24, 1910, at Halfway to Israel and Leona Hewitt. He lived most of his life in Eagle Valley and in the Baker City area. He worked as a ranch hand and enjoyed his favorite activity: fishing.

Survivors include his son and daughter-in-law, Rollie and Dianna Hewitt; his daughter and son-in-law, Geraldine and Andy Finn; eight grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Donna Backlund

Donna Kowing Backlund, 61, of Baker City, died Sept. 27, 2002, at John Day.

Her memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Joe and Shiela Kowing, who live up Laycock Creek in the John Day area.

Mrs. Backlund was born May 4, 1941, at Tillamook to Lawrence and Frieda Ammeter Ratliff.

She grew up on a homestead near Washougal, Wash., where she was schooled. She later attended Blue Mountain Community College and was a certified dental assistant employed at Baker City for several years.

On Dec. 28, 1957, she married Robert Kowing at Washougal. They later divorced.

She married Richard Backlund in January 1991 and the couple lived at Baker City. Her hobbies included gardening and sewing.

Mrs. Backlund is survived by her daughter, Cindy Davis of Ashland; three sons and daughters-in-law, Ken and Linda Kowing, Joe and Shiela Kowing, and Steve and Tami Kowing, all of John Day; 10 grandchildren; her mother, Frieda Ratliff of Baker City; brother and sister-in-law, Owen and Shirley Ratliff of Woodland, Wash.; two stepsons and a daughter-in-law, Rob and Lorie Backlund of Baker City and Rick Backlund of Virginia; and five stepgrandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her father; a grandson, Samuel Wayne Kowing; and her husband, Richard, who died in June.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Redmond, Sisters and Grant County, P.O. Box 1092, Redmond, OR 97756, or call 541/820-3790.

Dr. Genevieve Burk

Dr. Genevieve "Genny" S. Burk, 79, a former Baker City resident, died Sept. 22, 2002.

There will be a dinner in celebration of her life on Nov. 8 at the Oregon Medical Association headquarters in Portland.

The former Genny Speelman was born and raised in Baker City. Her father died when she was 16 and she helped her mother in caring for a family of frontier physicians. She was the valedictorian of the Baker High School Class of 1940.

During World War II, she worked as a cartographer at Camp Abbot. After graduation from the University of Oregon at Eugene, she attended the University of Oregon Medical School. She received her medical degree in1951.

She then entered a residency in anesthesiology with Dr. Haugen. After residency, she entered private practice for a short period.

She then returned to the Oregon Medical School on the staff of the Veterans Administration Hospital where she remained for 12 years. In 1968, she returned to private practice as the first full-time anesthesiologist in Clackamas County.

She served as chief of staff of Willamette Falls Community Hospital in 1976. She was elected president of the Clackamas County Medical Society in 1980 and president of the Oregon Medical Association in 1982. She twice ran for the Oregon Legislature.

Macular degeneration forced her retirement in 1986, but she maintained a keen interest in world and local events and a warm friendship with her extended family.

Genny was intelligent (she received only one grade less than A, a B, during her entire scholastic career). She was tough, but also gentle. She was a counselor and benefactor to uncounted interns, residents, practicing physicians, nurses, patients and friends, all of whom will miss her greatly.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and a former husband, Gilbert "Uncle Gil" Burk.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Oregon Medical Education John R. Hazel Memorial Fund or to the Willamette Falls Community Hospital Hospice.

Gladys A. Spellman

Gladys A. Spellman, 75, of Baker City, died Sept. 29, 2002, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

Her graveside service will be at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Mount Hope Cemetery. Pastor Dennis Hickman of First Lutheran Church will officiate.

Gladys was born at Wamic on Sept. 3, 1927, to George and Della Wing. She was from a pioneer family from Germany that migrated with covered wagons to Oregon City, then to Wamic.

As a young girl, she helped in the family's lumber mill business. She attended schools at Wamic and graduated in 1945. After graduation, she moved to The Dalles and was a telephone operator for Pacific Northwestern Bell.

During this time she was introduced to James S. Spellman. They were married on March 9, 1947, at the Lutheran Church in The Dalles.

In 1956 she moved to Baker City where she continued to work for Pacific Northwestern Bell. She also helped her husband in the trucking business.

The love and joy of her life was raising her four sons and watching her family grow. She was a very family oriented mother who had a caring heart and a soft hand. She gave of herself to everyone and was always the peacemaker.

Camping and love of the outdoors were as much a passion as the love and care that she showed in her yard when you looked at all of her beautiful dahlias. Her yard was always colorful with beautiful flowers.

She was a wonderful neighbor and loyal friend. Her family, friends and pet, Cindy, will remember her big smile and generosity, and we'll miss her greatly.

Survivors include her four sons, Joseph and his wife, Rhonda, of Baker City, Rick and his wife, Alanna, of Union, Ern and his wife, Davon, of Meridian, Idaho, and Ron and his wife, Joanne, of Burney, Calif.; grandchildren, Carrie and Chris Folkman, Kelly Spellman, BJ and Charyl Spellman, Jason and Elizabeth Spellman, Scott and Monica Hayes, Jessica Spellman, Shonda Massey and Lacy Spellman; great-grandchildren, Austin and Taylor Folkman; brother, Grover Wing of Oroville, Calif.; sister, Hester Feely of Portland; and very special friend and sister-in-law, Josephine Bies of Portland.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Shriners Children's Hospital through Gray's West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.

Chris Blacker

Chris Lee Blacker, 45, of Baker City, died Sept. 27, 2002, as the result of a motor vehicle accident on Highway 30.

His memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Gray's West & Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave. Pastor Dennis Hickman of the First Lutheran Church will officiate. There will be a reception afterward at the Durkee Grange Hall.

Chris Lee Blacker was born in Baker City in 1956 to Lora Matilda Riley and Lee Arthur Blacker. As the son of a construction worker, he moved frequently and lived in many different towns in Oregon and Washington. He was a 1974 graduate of Adams High School in Portland.

As an adult, he resettled in Baker City where he started a painting business. He worked on landmarks such as the Baker Hotel and the conversion of the former St. Elizabeth Hospital to condominiums.

He ran a few head of cattle in Durkee where he spent his leisure time with family and friends.

His passion was hunting anything with a season, fishing and golf. He was a sponsor of a team on the city men's Twilight League and competed in the city Pool and Shuffleboard League.

He was a member of the Eagles, the chamber of commerce, the golf club and Thunder Mountain Motor Sports Association.

Survivors include his brother, Bob Blacker of Baker City; a sister, Faye Winkle of La Grande; a sister-in-law, Jan Wright of Portland; 11 nieces and nephews; four great-nieces and great-nephews and many cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother.

Memorial contributions may be made to Pheasants Forever or the Elk Feeding Program through Gray's West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.

Dorothy Erskine

Dorothy F. Erskine, 85, a La Grande resident, died Sept. 23, 2002, at Wildflower Lodge in La Grande.

A family gathering to honor her will be scheduled later. Disposition was by cremation.

Mrs. Erskine was born at Elkton on Sept. 6, 1917, to Walter and Ellene Rydall. She graduated high school in Salem. She married Reginald Erskine in 1936 and over the years they moved to several Oregon towns.

Mrs. Erskine was a CPA and a municipal auditor in Springfield for several years. She and her husband worked for Southern Pacific Railroad until retirement.

She liked to fish, hunt, knit and read. She belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star at Roseburg.

Survivors include her daughter, Diane Cessna of La Grande; two grandsons, Scott Cumpston of Canby and Doug Cumpston of Roseburg; granddaughter, Teri Weems of North Powder; three great-grandchildren; nephew, James Schaeffer of Yakima, Wash.; and niece, Donna Selsor of Bend.

She was preceded in death by her husband.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Oregon Health and Science University cancer research department in Portland or any Eastern Star Chapter Cancer Research Fund through Gray's West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.

Leslie Estes

Leslie Estes, 40, of Baker City, died Sept. 25, 2002, at St. Elizabeth Health Services after many years of diabetes complications.

Her funeral will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the First Church of the Nazarene, 1250 Hughes Lane. Pastor Lennie Spooner of the First Church of the Nazarene will officiate. Interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery. There will be a reception afterward at the First Church of the Nazarene Fellowship Hall.

There will be a viewing for family from 4 o'clock to 8 o'clock tonight at Gray's West & Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave.

Leslie was born on Sept. 14, 1962, at Baker City to Roland and LaVelle Gorte. Leslie grew up in Baker City, graduating from Baker High School in 1981. She received her associate degree in business administration from Eastern Oregon University at La Grande in 1983.

After losing her sight in 1989, she moved to Portland to re-hab at the Commission for the Blind. While there she met her future husband, Mark Estes. They were in the same graduating class at Guide Dogs for the Blind at San Rafael, Calif., where she received her beloved guide dog, Durango.

Mark and Leslie were married in Baker City on July 13, 1991. They moved to Portland a short time later where Leslie worked at Vision Northwest as a support director, meeting many new friends while sharing tales of being visually handicapped. Leslie and Mark, seeking her hometown family and friends, returned to Baker City in 1997 where they had lived since.

Throughout her life, Leslie was always the caregiver of the family. She loved to lavish love and gifts on all she came in contact with. She loved children and was a counselor for handicapped children in her early teen-age years.

She taught water aerobics in Baker City and in Portland, enjoying all the friends she met at that time. She looked forward for several years to talking with Baker City's fourth-grade students. She took her guide dog, Durango, along as she shared information with them about the life of blindness.

Survivors include her loving husband, Mark; her parents, Roland and LaVelle, and Mark's parents, Audrey and Darrell Estes; brother, Rick, and his wife, Debbie; a sister, Lynne; brothers-in-law and their wives, Mike and Debbie and Brad and Sherry; nieces, April, Cheryl, Tia and Randi; nephews, Bryce, Trent and Zachary; three great-nieces and three great-nephews; many aunts, uncles and cousins who she treasured; plus a host of friends who were so important to her.

She was preceded in death by her grandparents and her beloved Durango.

Memorial contributions may be made to Guide Dog Inc. or the American Diabetes Association through Gray's West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.

Vera Lethlean

Vera Mae Thorne Lethlean, 76, of Baker City, died Sept. 25, 2002, at St. Elizabeth Care Center after an extended illness.

Her funeral will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2625 Hughes Lane. A concluding service and dedication of the grave will be at Mount Hope Cemetery. Visitations will be until 7 o'clock tonight at the Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St.

Vera and her twin brother were born prematurely on April 22, 1926, at Holdman to Walter J. and Evelyn "Eva" Olive Corporon Thorne. Weighing only 2 pounds, 6 ounces, she survived the first days of her life in a shoe box in the warming section of the wood-burning cook stove. She was one of seven children.

She grew up in the Hermiston-Stanfield area. At the age of 16, she moved to Muddy Creek where her family farmed and ranched. She graduated from Muddy Creek High School.

While attending Muddy Creek High School, she met classmate Dale Lethlean. On Dec. 22, 1945, the high school sweethearts exchanged wedding vows at El Paso de Robles, Calif., while Dale was on a three-day pass attending military training during World War II.

Vera and Dale had six children; J.D., Linda, Kim, Jim, Tim and Kay. Being a wife and mother was the center of her life. She was always worrying about her family who she wished to be safe and happy.

"We could always count on Mother to be there for us," her children said. "Not being able to turn to her anymore in this life will be difficult. Her love and devotion to her family was immeasurable."

Vera's favorite seasons were spring and summer. She loved the sunshine and the longer days it brought. She enjoyed being in her yard.

Every year new batches of petunias, especially Cascade Red Petunias, would be placed in her garden where one could always find multiple birdhouses and hummingbird feeders. This last season she watched from her chair as more than 100 hummingbirds visited the feeders.

Vera and Dale purchased the In & Out Drive-In on Jan. 1, 1957. She took an active role in building the business. She enjoyed serving the customers until two years ago when her health began to fail.

Vera was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vera and Dale and their family were sealed for all time and eternity in the Idaho Falls Temple on June 12, 1965.

Vera's generous nature was felt by those who were a part of her life. Her presence here on earth will be missed greatly not only by her family but also by many friends and loved ones.

Survivors include her husband, Dale Lethlean; sons, J.D. and his wife, Linda, Kim and his wife, Gladys, and Tim and his wife, Kelly, all of Baker City; daughters, Linda and her husband, Russ Canham, of Portland, and Kay and her husband, David Carlson, of Vale, daughter-in-law, Shannon Lethlean; grandchildren, Joe, Julie, Scott, Bill, Dustin, Michelle, Allen, Larry, Melissa, Josiah, Erica, Lauren, Noah and Japheth; great- grandchildren, Acia, Asher and Anya; sisters, Margueritte Dillow of Silverton and Ruby Halvorson of Hermiston; nephew, Howard Thorne of Portland; and numerous nieces and other nephews.

Vera was preceded in death by her son, Jim Lethlean; her parents, Walter and Eva Throne; brothers: Frank William Thorne and Daniel Lewis Thorne, and twin brother, Vernon Throne; sister, Ella Frankie Thorne; and stepmother Lula Thorne.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Carcinoid Cancer Treatment Center through the Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR. 97814.