Obituaries for the week of March 22 to March 26, 2004

March 26, 2004 12:00 am

Rowena Sass

Rowena Louise Howell Sass, 83, of Baker City, died March 22, 2004, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

Disposition was by cremation at Eastern Oregon Pioneer Crematory. A private service will be held at a later date.

Rowena was born May 11, 1920, near Richland to Orla and Imogene Cooper Howell. She attended 12 years of school in Richland, graduating from Eagle Valley High School in 1937. She then attended Baker Business College in 1938.

Rowena worked at Baker Packing Co. for about 10 years before marrying John R. Sass on Sept. 17, 1948. John and Rowena had two children: Robbi Ann Sass was born in 1949 and Dean Dennis Sass was born in 1952. Robbi preceded her parents in death in 1994.

Rowena and John operated a Hereford cattle ranch in Eagle Valley until 1972 when they retired to a small place near Holcomb Park. Rowena was active in the Baker County Cattlewomen and the Richland Methodist Church.

Survivors include her son and daughter-in-law, Dean and Sheri Sass; two grandchildren, Jill Dooley and her husband, Ken, and Ryan Sass of Meridian, Idaho; a sister, Colleen DeGroft and her husband, Bill, of Wallowa; a sister-in-law, Catherine Howell; and numerous nieces.

Rowena was preceded in death by her husband, John; her daughter, Robbi, her parents, Orla and Imogene Howell; and her brother, Clark Howell.

The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Richland Library or Richland Ambulance through Gray's West & Company, P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.

Della Edison

Della Edison, 52, of Baker City, died March 22, 2004, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

A celebration of her life will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 2005 Valley Ave. A dinner will follow the service.

Della was born in John Day to Opal and Norma Davis. After moving to Baker City, she met and married James Edison Sr. They enjoyed 34 years of marriage in which time they had three children: James Edison Jr., Kathy Free and Carrie Johnson. She also considered Rudy Soliz to be her son.

Her greatest joy in life came from spoiling her 10 grandchildren. She was loved by many and will be missed greatly by all.

Survivors include her husband, James Edison Sr. of Baker City; her children, James Edison Jr. and his wife, Leanne, of Boardman, Kathy Free, Carrie and Rod Johnson and Rudy and Debbie Soliz, all of Baker City; a sister, Linda Pifher-Davis; a brother, Rick Davis; grandchildren, Cheylan, Raymond and Kirsten Edison, Tyler, Amanda and Trevor Free, Wyatt and Aleecia Johnson and Sean and Tiffany Soliz; nephews, Shea Maliwauki and Jim Howerton; a niece, Nicole Howerton and many other nieces.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, Roger Davis, and numerous aunts and uncles.

Memorial contributions may be directed to James Edison Sr. This may be done through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.

Lois ‘Larrie' Bowerman

Lois "Larrie" Bowerman, 82, a longtime Halfway resident, died March 11, 2004, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

Her memorial service will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Pine Valley Presbyterian Church in Halfway.

Lois was born Sept. 30, 1921, in the high altitude of Victor, Colo., to Washington Denver and Gwendolyn Honeycutt. She was the second-eldest of four girls. Lois received good grades in school and received her eighth-grade diploma in Spokane in 1935. However, the Great Depression had set in and she opted not to continue her education because she could not afford new clothes. Her father's automobile business soon failed and for the next few years the family, like many others, traveled the western states looking for work.

By the late 1930s things started looking up for Lois. The Honeycutts arrived in Everett, Wash., where Lois met her first love, Harold Sanders. In 1940 Lois married Harold and within the next three years gave birth to her first two children, Steve and Gail. In 1943 Harold, Lois and their two young children rejoined the Honeycutts in the secluded farming community of Pine Valley, Ore. Harold was drafted into the Navy and after his return from the South Pacific they eventually bought some land in Carson where they started construction of a home.

After Harold's accidental death in 1948 Lois met and married Jarold L. Bowerman, son of Floyd and Esta Bowerman of Pine Valley. As a family they moved to the Tri-Cities, Wash., in 1950, where Jerry was employed at Hanford. It was in Richland, Wash., that Lois gave birth to two more children, Mike and Linn. In 1953 Jerry, Lois and their four children returned to Pine Valley for one year before moving to what is now Lakewood, Wash. It was in their home overlooking Steilacoom Lake that the children were raised and Lois found some time to renew her interest in poetry and oil painting.

In the 1960s life took an unfortunate turn for Lois. To supplement the family's income Lois sold cosmetics and started a short career working in a retail drugstore. In 1967 Jerry accepted a better paying position in Puyallup, Wash., with the idea that Lois would spend more time at home. They sold their house in Lakewood and moved to a brick rambler in the Puyallup Valley. However, within a year Jerry was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He died in February 1968, leaving Lois a widow for the second time within a 20-year period.

The misfortunes of life had their effect on Lois. Although she never lost her independent nature, Lois was never quite the same person.

In 1972, when the last of the children moved out, Lois returned to her property in Carson where her parents had been living since the 1940s. Relaxing in the seclusion of Pine Valley, she was able to renew her interest in poetry and oil painting. In 1974 Lois sold her Carson place and bought a piece of land and a mobile home on West Bell Street in Halfway. It was here that she would live the final 30 years of her life.

Lois was an intelligent woman who took pride in all that she did. She was a strong-willed person and at the same time she had a great deal of inner passion. One only has to observe one of her finely detailed paintings or read one of her poems to see these qualities. She enjoyed learning new facts, quizzing herself with a math problem, and keeping up with the national news. On the domestic side Lois was well-known for her cooking and baking skills. At one time she commercially sold her banana cream pies in the restaurants of Halfway. Lois enjoyed the outdoors and marveled at nature. She and Freda Martin spent many hours fishing the creeks of Pine Valley or casting for salmon in the Snake.

Next to her children, Lois took great pride in her meticulous oil paintings and her passionate poems. She introduced Pine Valley to her painting skills when she won a ribbon for a painting she entered at a Baker County Fair arts and crafts exhibit. This particular painting was acquired by Everett and Margaret Baird of Pine Valley. It depicted a turn-of-the-century horse-drawn shipment of gold descending from the mines of Cornucopia. Many locals of the time recognized the scene through Lois' rendition of a legendary large tree that once flanked the wagon trail to Copia.

Lois' poems are a pleasure to read. They varied from deep philosophical thoughts about life and nature, to lighthearted children's poems. Her children's poems of the 1950s were originally composed to entertain a terminally ill child in Lakewood, Wash., and were published in a local newspaper. A limited publishing of her poems will soon be available again.

She was of the generation who grew up in the Depression era. Lois knew of hard work and the value of a dollar. To say she had the ability to improvise was an understatement. A good example of this was a 1950s whim of Lois' to paint a scene in her memory. The fact that she did not have the necessary materials or money to buy them never stopped Lois. Her Depression era "make do" attitude took over and before you knew it she created a beautiful seascape using a mixture of white shoe polish and food coloring from the kitchen. Persistence was a key element in her personality.

Honesty and integrity is what she lived and is what she expected. If you got in her way or failed to show some respect you definitely would get a piece of her mind. For the most part she lived quietly and to herself but her wonderful talents will be shared for years to come.

Lois is survived by her children, Gail Lynn Kepler and Linnelle Alane Osman and her husband, Dave, of Pine Valley, Stephen Harold Bowerman and his wife, Terry Rae, of Honolulu, Jarold Michael Bowerman and his wife, Angelika, of Seattle; 15 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren; her sister and brother-in-law, Shirley and Harry Coyle of Pine Valley; and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, W.D. and Gwendolyn Honeycutt; her husbands, Harold G. Sanders and Jarold (Jerry) L. Bowerman, and her sisters, Gaye (Bessie) Kempe and Ginger (Thelma) Kempe.

Contributions in Lois' memory may be made to the Halfway/Oxbow Ambulance Service in care of Tami's Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.

Marjorie Churchill

Marjorie Bethene Dye Churchill, 90, a longtime Baker City resident, died March 18, 2004, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

Interment will be April 9 in Grants Pass.

Marjorie was born on Feb. 18, 1914, in Arcadia, Neb., to Arthur Simeon and Millicent Pearl Vincent Dye.

She married Raymond Leonard Churchill on Oct. 16, 1932. They had five children. During her life she enjoyed running a dairy with her husband in Woodburn. They loved working together and being together. During her life she was also a bookkeeper.

Her greatest love was that of her children and grandchildren. The grandchildren best remember her teaching them to write their names, how to stir pancake batter and to color inside the lines. She loved to crochet and enjoyed rock hounding with her youngest son.

Survivors include her daughters and their husbands, Bethene and Donald Alderson of Bozeman, Mont., and Alice and Raymond Dooley of Gresham, and Judith Churchill of Baker City; sons and their wives, Russell and Young Churchill of Castlerock, Wash., and Orville and Ardell Churchill of Baker City; 16 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Raymond, and by two brothers and one sister.

For those who wish to make a donation in memory of Marjorie you may do so to a special fund for the hearing impaired in Baker County in care of Tami's Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.

Harold Sutton

Harold L. Sutton, 91, a La Grande resident and a former longtime Elgin resident, died March 22, 2004, at Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande.

His funeral will be Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the Elgin United Methodist Church. Vault interment and concluding services will follow in Summerville. Pastor Kay Garver will officiate.

Visitations will be Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Loveland Funeral Chapel 1508 Fourth St. in La Grande.

Mr. Sutton was born March 10, 1913, at Bethlehem, Iowa, to Robert and Viola (Hancock) Sutton. His father died when he was 9-years-old, and he moved with his mother to the Farewell Bend area near Huntington. The family later moved to the Milton-Freewater area where he continued his schooling. He worked at various jobs in that area.

Mr. Sutton married Kathleen Winn on Dec. 2, 1932, at College Place, Wash. In 1935, he moved to Elgin where he began working for the Pondosa Pine Mill. He had worked at various positions at the mill, working there through its sale to Boise Cascade, and working his way up to millwright. He retired from Boise Cascade in 1978.

He greatly enjoyed hunting, fishing, gardening, traveling and camping. He was a longtime member of the Elgin United Methodist Church, the Good Sam Club, and had volunteered for the Elgin Fire Department and ambulance for many years.

Mr. Sutton is survived by his wife, Kathleen of La Grande; two daughters, Barbara Beickel and her husband, Elmer, of La Grande, and Cynthia Gibson of Portland; four foster children, Shirley Taylor of Baker City, Linda Smith and her husband, Leo, and Dennis Swalberg, all of Lebanon, and Robert "Bob" Swalberg of Elgin; four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in his death by his parents and by two brothers, Vernon and Orville Sutton, both of whom died during the Bataan Death March of World War II.

Contributions in Mr. Sutton's memory may be made to the Elgin United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 7, Elgin, OR 97827.

‘Tillie' Merritt

Matilda "Tillie" Merritt, 79, a longtime Baker City resident, died March 20, 2004, at St. Elizabeth Health Care Center.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St. Pastor Dennis Marttala of the First Lutheran Church will officiate.

Matilda was born Nov. 25, 1924, to Thomas and Amy Barry of Venice, Calif.

On Oct. 27, 1951, she married Clarence "Don" Merritt of Baker City, whom she met while they were both employed at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft. She later spent several years working for Ralph's Supermarket in Southern California until the couple moved to Baker in 1972 where they spent several years in motel and restaurant management.

Matilda loved camping and family outings. Her other hobbies included cooking, sewing and crocheting.

She is survived by a sister, Mary Meyers of California; a foster daughter, Tammy Marie of Baker City; three grandchildren; four great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters, two brothers and her husband of 53 years, Don Merritt.

Memorial contributions in Mrs. Merritt's memory may be directed to Pathway Hospice, 1904 Resort St., Baker City, OR 97814, or through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place Street, Baker City, OR 97814.

Donald Hickerson

Donald Kent Hickerson, 81, of Baker City, died March 18, 2004, at Ashley Manor Care Center in Baker City.

His graveside funeral will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Mount Hope Cemetery. The Baker Elks Lodge No 338 and the American Legion Club No 41 will officiate. Military auspices will be by the National Guard Armory. Honorary pallbearers are Pat Guyman, Joe Ryder, Bill Cassidy, Hershel Wood, Don Christy and Ron Nelson. Visitations will be today until 6 p.m. at Gray's West & Company Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave.

Don was born Nov. 2, 1922, in Baker City to George C. and Viola Merle (Lonzway) Hickerson. He attended Baker High School where he played the saxophone in the school band. After graduation he worked at the local Safeway store.

In 1943 Don joined the U.S. Army, and he served during World War II as a paratrooper in the Pacific Theater. Don earned many medals for his service, including a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Don returned to Baker City after his time in the Army and opened his own small grocery store, The Table Supply. He soon after gave up the grocery store business to work for Pacific Fruit, where he worked as a produce salesman. Don traveled with his job, spending time in Pendleton and all over Eastern Oregon. In his free time back home in Baker City, Don continued playing his saxophone in a local band.

In his later years he enjoyed watching sports and was not afraid of a friendly wager. He also enjoyed fishing, and he would take his boat to the coast or up to Phillips Reservoir. Don loved his friends and met for coffee every morning with the "Metamucil Bunch" to talk and tell stories.

Don is survived by his cousin, Johannah Lyon of Payette, Idaho, and her children, Pat Lyon of New Plymouth, Idaho, Jim Lyon of Fruitland, Idaho and Jodell Barber and her husband, Dennis, of McCall, Idaho. Don also is survived by many wonderful friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Merle and George Hickerson; and his brother, Craig Hickerson.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Baker Elks Lodge No. 338 or to the American Legion Club No. 41 in care of Gray's West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.