Obituaries for the week of Feb. 2 to Feb. 6, 2004

February 06, 2004 12:00 am

Ira Curtis Griffith

Ira Curtis Griffith, 76, of Baker City passed away on Feb. 4, 2004, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Gray's West & Company Pioneer Chapel with Pastor Jack Bynum of the United Methodist Church officiating. Interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery with Military Auspices by the Oregon Army National Guard.

Hours of visitation will be today until 8 p.m. at Gray's West & Co.

Ira was born on June 30, 1927, in Blackduck, Minn., to Freeman and Margaret (Paul) Griffith. In 1940, he moved to Baker City with his family.

On August 26, 1948, Ira married Carleen Cook in Baker City and together they raised five children. He began his career in 1950 working for his father-in-law at Cook and Emele Sheet Metal Works.

In June 1960, he became manager and in 1970 he purchased the business and ran it until he retired in 1992, turning management over to his sons, Scott and Kevin.

Ira was a member of the Oregon State Homebuilders and served as the Baker County chapter president for several years. He was named Oregon State Homebuilder Associate of the year in 1994.

He was a member of the Baker City United Methodist Church and had served four years as Lay Minister at the Methodist Church in Richland.

Ira was an avid sportsman. He enjoyed fishing, hunting and spending time in the outdoors. He was also a loving family man and was chosen as the Baker County Father of the Year in 1990.

Ira is survived by his wife of 50 years, Carleen; his sons, Larry and his wife Cathie of Spokane, Wash., Scott and his wife Donna, and Kevin and his wife Debra, both of Baker City; a daughter, Susann Hinkley of Baker City; a brother, Norman and his wife Gloria Griffith of Hermiston; sisters-in-law, Betty Allen, Gail Cook, Phyllis Wilcox and her husband, Richard, and Sue Griffith; 17 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews, and lots of friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Freeman and Margaret Griffith, his brother Paul Griffith and his son David Griffith.

Memorial contributions can be made in Ira's name to the Baker City United Methodist Church or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, in care of Gray's West & Company, P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.

Clarence ‘Don' Merritt

Clarence "Don" D. Merritt, 81, a longtime Baker City resident, died Feb. 4, 2004 at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

A memorial service will be held in his honor at 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, at Gray's West & Company Pioneer Chapel with Pastor John Goodyear of the Baker Valley Church of Christ officiating.

A celebration of life at Settler's Park Assisted Living Center will follow the memorial service at 2 p.m., with a snack tray potluck reception.

Clarence was born June 25, 1922, in Baker City to David and Grace (Srack) Merritt. He attended school in Baker and after graduating joined the United States Army.

While in the service, he began learning the trade of tool and die making. Upon his discharge from the military, Clarence moved to Downey, California, and went to work for Lockheed, where he continued his trade of tool and die making.

On Oct. 27, 1951, he married Matilda Barry. They remained in California until 1972. The couple later moved to Baker City where they worked managing motels.

He enjoyed going camping with his family to Selmack Lake in California. They enjoyed going on tourist travels to Tucson, Ariz., and Cucamonga, Calif. He loved to travel and visit new places and they especially enjoyed Disneyland.

He loved the family life. Don had a heart of gold and loved everyone. He did not have a mean bone in his body. He had a Christian attitude toward people and always tried to make the family laugh to get them out of the gloom.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Matilda "Tillie"; a daughter, Tammy Marie of Baker City; one brother, Ray Merritt and his wife, Aris, of Baker City; and one sister, Opal Laween Ball of Baker City; two nieces; two nephews; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, David and Grace.

Memorial contributions may be made to Matilda "Tillie" Merritt in care of Gray's West & Company Pioneer Chapel, P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.

‘Al' Jury

Allen W. Jury, known to all as "Al," 82, a lifelong rancher, died Feb. 1, 2004, at St. Elizabeth Health Care Center of heart disease.

There will be a memorial service in honor of his life in the spring. Gray's West & Co. Pioneer Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

Al was born and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area town of Hayward, Calif. He married his high school sweetheart, Lila Estell, at Reno, Nev., in 1941.

They moved to the San Joaquin Valley town of Oakdale, Calif., raising hogs and dairy cows.

Their son, Walter, was born there in 1948. They bought a ranch and moved to the Sierra foothills town of Sonora, Calif., in 1951, raising hogs and dairy cows there also, later switching to beef cattle.

In 1983, Al lost his wife, Lila, to cancer.

He married his current wife, Mildred Lane, in 1985.

Above all, Al valued his family. He loved to hunt, fish, garden and travel. He also loved a good horse and pie. He traveled into Oregon, Washington and Alaska each summer fishing and always looking for the perfect ranch.

In 1988, he found and bought a ranch in the Keating Valley. His family moved there and ran the ranch, with Al and Millie enjoying their "retirement," taking Al's role of ranch advisor seriously and being free to fish and travel.

Al also enjoyed the branding get-togethers and all the community potlucks and gatherings to visit and enjoy good food.

Survivors include his wife, Mildred; his son, Walter, and his wife, Kitty; and grandchildren, Tom and Sara Jury, all of Keating.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Keating Quick Response Team through Gray's West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.

Robert Ellis

Robert Wayne "Gootch" Ellis, 80, died Feb. 1, 2004, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

At the family's request there will be no funeral. A viewing is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at Gray's West & Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave.

Robert was born in Baker City, on May 25, 1923, to Charles and Florence Ellis.

He attended Baker schools and was a 1941 Baker High graduate. He enjoyed playing basketball, baseball, football, and track in his younger years. He served two tours of duty in the U.S. Navy before and during World War II. He logged 314,000 nautical miles on the U.S.S. Nassau aircraft carrier.

He married Leona Ray, the love of his life, in August of 1946, and celebrated 50 years of marriage with her.

Robert worked at Lew Bros. Tires and later as a custodian at Baker High School and the Baker School District office building.

He loved the outdoors and enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping with his family and later on with his grandchildren. He had a passion for elk hunting and looked forward in anticipation to opening day.

He had a gift for telling humorous stories to his family and friends. Robert liked to watch sports on TV, especially college basketball. He will be missed.

Survivors include his sons, Terry, and his wife, Raylene, of Pendleton, and Stan and his wife, Lori, of Baker City; grandsons, Daniel, and Raymond and his wife, Jessica, of Pendleton; granddaughter, Tarah of Eugene; great-grandchildren, Gabriel and Hailey; and a nephew, Mike Ellis of Pendleton.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Florence Ellis; a brother, Charles "Chick" Ellis; and his wife, Leona Ellis, all of Baker City.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Blue Mountain Humane Society through Gray's West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.