Obituaries for the week of Nov. 14 to Nov. 18

November 18, 2005 12:00 am

Bessie Hickman

Bessie A. Hickman, 97, died Nov. 15, 2005, at St. Elizabeth Health Care Center.

Her funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St. Pastor Jon Privett of the Baker City Church of the Nazarene will officiate. Private interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Bessie was born on March 10, 1908, in McDonald County, Mo., to Franklin and Agnes Sims Lee. She attended school in Missouri and Kansas. She married Daniel Hickman on Dec. 21, 1927.

She was preceded in death by her parents; five brothers; four sisters; her husband, Daniel, who died on Feb. 15, 2002, after 74 years of marriage; and an infant son and daughter.

Survivors include numerous nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of one's choice through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.

‘Charlie' Brooks

Charles Walter "Charlie" Brooks, 72, of Baker City, died Nov. 15, 2005, at his home.

His graveside memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at the Eagle Valley Cemetery in Richland. Friends are invited to join the family for a reception afterward at the Richland Grange Hall.

Charlie was born on June 13, 1933, at Richland to Paul and Olga Miller Brooks. He was raised at Richland, graduating from high school there in May of 1951. After graduation, Charlie went to work for his uncle Eagle Bennehoff, on his ranches at Halfway and Richland.

In 1953, he was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served most of his time in Germany and France. His job was transporting troops and pilots. He was discharged in 1955.

Charlie went to work for the Morrison-Knudsen Co. in 1956 at the Brownlee Dam and worked on the highway from Richland to Halfway in 1957. It was during this time that he met his "true love," Mary Lee Fitchett. They were married in September of 1958 at the Christian Church in Richland. They had two boys, Donald and Clyde.

He then went to work for Standard Oil for six years driving tanker truck delivering fuel. Next he purchased the Bennehoff Dairy from his uncle Eagle and operated it with his family for 14 years.

They had the first Grade A Dairy in Richland. They sold it in 1978. Charlie worked a few years for farm implement dealers in Baker City, four years for the Baker County Road Department operating a road grader, one year hauling mail to Salt Lake City and three summers working on a road crew.

In 1991 Charlie enjoyed working with a contractor building the family's new home in Baker City. He swore that they would never do it again. It's amazing what you can agree to disagree on!

During Charlie's life, he enjoyed packing up into the high mountains, hunting and fishing, playing cards with his family and friends, watching his grandson, Cooper, play sports and watching bull riding and sports on TV.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Lee of Baker City; sons and wives, Clyde and Melody Brooks of Baker City and Donald and Judi Brooks of Dayton, Wash.; his mother, Olga Brooks of Baker City; brothers and wives, Stanley and LaRue Brooks of Richland and Dwight and Donna Brooks of Union; grandchildren, Cooper, Kody, Jessica, Rachelle and Scott; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, Paul Brooks.

Memorial contributions may made to the Eagle Valley Ambulance or the Eagle Valley Cemetery through Tami's Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.

‘Bee' Karren

Virginia L. "Bee" Karren, 81, of Portland, a former Baker City resident, died Nov. 8, 2005.

Her memorial service was Monday at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Portland.

She was born on March 27, 1924, at Blackfoot, Idaho, to Emma and Jack Childers. She attended school at Pondosa and Union and was a 1942 graduate of Baker High School. She attended Baker Business College before marrying Lester B. Karren in November of 1943.

The Portland/Beaverton area was her home for more than 25 years. Virginia worked in an administrative capacity in the building industry, retiring in 1999. She was active in the Beaverton Elks Lodge, Beta Sigma Phi and enjoyed the Oregon Symphony.

Survivors include her brother, Bill Childers of Baker City; a nephew, John Childers of Gresham; and nieces, Vicki Fite of Philomath and Tari McDowell of Portland.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Casey Eye Institute, the Cancer Society or the charity of one's choice.

‘Kenny' Smith

J. Kenneth "Kenny" Smith, 83, a longtime Halfway resident, died Nov. 13, 2005, at his home.

Interment will be at Pine Haven Cemetery in Halfway near his son, Paul Smith. A memorial service will be announced later.

Kenny was born on May 18, 1922, at Portland to Martin and Lydia Smith. He was raised at north Portland, graduating from Jefferson High School in June 1940. A week later, he joined the Oregon National Guard 41st Infantry Division and began his military tour of duty.

His division arrived in Australia in 1942 and participated in the New Guinea jungle campaign, where he was wounded in August 1943. Kenny was awarded the Purple Heart.

Shortly after his July 1944 discharge from the service, he began working for the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co. in Portland. He installed residential phones and enjoyed playing third base on a TelCo softball team.

In 1945, Kenny traveled to install phones in Salem, Medford and Eugene, where he met Pauline Tower, who also worked for the telephone company. Kenny and Pauline were married in Eugene on June 15, 1946, and settled there to raise their family.

After Kenny's retirement from the phone company in 1976, the couple moved to Halfway where they bought property and built a home at the corner of Fish Lake Road and Boulder Flat Lane.

Kenny was devoted to his family and raised his children to appreciate the outdoors through years of camping and fishing trips. He was proud to be a World War II veteran.

Kenny was a lifelong fisherman and butterfly collector. In retirement he made frequent trips around the state to add to his collection of Oregon butterflies, which included more than 200 species. He lacked fewer than 30 Oregon native species at the time of his death.

In addition to butterfly collecting, Kenny was an enthusiastic reader, solver of crossword puzzles, and baseball fan.

Survivors include his wife, Pauline of Halfway; daughters, Ellen Smith of Seattle and Lynne Smith of Halfway; daughter and son-in-law, Karen and David Andruss of Halfway; sons and daughters-in-law, Dain and Kathy Smith of Eugene, and Mark and Kathy Smith of Richland, Wash.; daughter-in-law, Terry Christman of Apache Junction, Ariz.; and his three grandsons, David Smith, Kenneth Smith and Matthew Smith.

He was preceded in death by his youngest son, Paul Smith.

Memorial contributions may be made to Pathway Hospice through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.

Irene Baxter

B. Irene Baxter, 82, of Baker City, died Nov. 12, 2005, at her home.

There will be a celebration of her life at 2 p.m. Thursday at Gray's West & Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave. Pastor Jon Privett of the First Church of the Nazarene will officiate. Private burial will be at Mount Hope Cemetery. Friends are invited to join the family for food and fellowship afterward in the Blue Mountain Room of the Sunridge Inn, 1 Sunridge Lane.

Irene was born at Oakland, Calif., in 1923 to Dave and Ella Abercrombie. She spent many of her younger years traveling the Western United States with her family. She often spoke of the many experiences they had, including attending 13 schools in the first grade. The experience helped her develop a positive attitude and outlook on life. The family finally settled at Toutle Lake, Wash., where she was a cheerleader for a time.

She met her husband, Ray Baxter, at Castlerock, Wash., when she was 17. The couple were married at Spokane, Wash., in 1944 after his service in the Marshall Islands in World War II.

They both enjoyed a spirit for adventure and had many of them during their time together, starting with his Harley Davidson. After his discharge from the military and many years living at Astoria, they moved to Baker City where they raised their three children.

Irene enjoyed many hobbies during her life, including handcrafts, camping with their friends and family around the Northwest, reading, square dancing with the "Crazy 8s" club, going to coffee with her friends, and above all, her devotion to God and her family.

Irene was employed in a wide variety of jobs during her life, including fighter-wing fabrication, fuel tank operator, switchboard operator, waitress, 23 years as a cook for the Baker School District and ending with many years of service at Pioneer Bank.

"Irene will always be deeply treasured and her sense of humor, positive attitude, upbeat personality and love of family and Christ will always leave her as our role model," her family said. "We will miss her."

Survivors include her son, Gary, and his wife, Bonnie, of Baker City, and their children, Amy and Jimmy Gandy of Willits, Calif., Julie and Mark Matoza of Sparks, Nev., Heather and Nate Sherman of Phoenix, Ariz., and Ryan and Tina Baxter of North Power; her son, Glen Baxter, and his wife, Teresa, of Bend and their children, Angie and Matt Slothower of Redmond, Casey and Carrie Baxter of Houston and Jordan Baxter of Bend; her daughter, Susan Myers, and her husband, Mike, of Baker City, and their children, Samantha Myers and her fiance, Toby Gangler, of Hermiston, and Mandy Myers of Baker City and her fiance, Kevin Lane of Klamath Falls; nine great-grandchildren; her sister and brother-in-law, Rosalie and Loren Cheney of Gooding, Idaho; a brother and sister-in-law, John and Barbie Abercrombie of Roseburg; her sister-in-law, Genie Abercrombie of McKinleyville, Calif.; her brother-in-law, Al McGowan of Gooding, Idaho; and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her sister, Gracie; her brother, Laurance "Buddy"; and her husband of 46 years, Ray.

Memorial contributions may be made to Heart & Home Hospice of Baker City, the American Cancer Society or a charity of one's choice through Gray's West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.

Rachel Tuning

Rachel Sarah Tuning, 93, of Baker City, died Nov. 14, 2005, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

Her funeral will be at 2 p.m. Friday at Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St. Pastor Roger Scovil of Baker City Christian Church will officiate. Private interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Rachel was born on May 26, 1912, at Richland to Clarence and Lyda Bogart. She was a 1931 Richland High School graduate and went on to nurses training in Baker City. She worked as a nurse at St. Elizabeth Hospital and later at Cedar Manor Nursing Home.

In 1935, she married Earl Tuning. They enjoyed dancing, hunting, fishing and lots of hard work. She worked as a cook at Sutton Creek Sawmill and later farmed with Earl outside Baker City. Rachel loved animals and helping others.

She was preceded in death by her parents; his husband, Earl; a sister Connie Showers; and a brother, Kenneth Bogart.

Survivors include two sisters, Katherine Wealty of Beaverton and Christina Jesmer of Colorado Springs, Colo.; a brother, Wallace Bogart of Baker City; and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of one's choice through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.

‘Al' Polvi

Allan "Al" Polvi, 66, died Nov. 9, 2005, at his home at Walla Walla, Wash., after a long battle with cancer.

At his request, there will be no service. Inurnment will be at Hopewell in July 2006. Mountain View-Colonial DeWitt Cremations & Funeral Services, 1551 Dalles Military Road, Walla Walla, Wash., is assisting the family with cremation arrangements.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Mary Regional Cancer Center or Walla Walla Community Hospice, through the funeral home. For condolences or additional information the family may be reached through this email address: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Mr. Polvi was born on Jan. 31, 1939, at McMinnville to George W. and Esther E. Kangas Polvi. He was a 1957 graduate of Amity High School at Amity, where he was a star player on his football and baseball teams. He attended Oregon State University at Corvallis and earned his bachelor's degree in business in 1961.

He moved to this area in 1970, 35 years ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho. On Nov. 22, 1996 he and Nancy J. Simrell, a former longtime Baker City resident, were married at Lewiston, Idaho.

He was an area administration officer for Bonneville Power Administration, retiring in July of 1994.

Al loved the outdoors. His favorite site to visit was his cabin at Tollgate. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, garage sales and was an avid bowler.

He was life member of the Elks Lodge, a member of the Eagles, and he served on the Walla Walla Civil Service Board for 17 years.

Survivors include his wife at home; one daughter, Heather Croser and her husband, Chris; two sons and their wives, Brian and Melissa Polvi and Bruce and Lisa Polvi; two stepsons and their wives, Tim and Ruth Simrell and Randy and Dana Simrell; one step-daughter, Tami Bivens, and her husband, Rob; four brothers and their wives, George and Margaret, Robert and Viola, Gary and Ronald and Mary Lou Polvi; two grandchildren; nine stepgrandchildren; three stepgreat- grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; mother-in-law, Millie Byron; two brothers-in-law and their wives, Norval and Margaret Byron and Larry and Pat Byron; sister-in-law, Caron Williamson; two special friends, neighbor Lester Filan, and best friend and buddy his dog, Bosco.

He was preceded in death by his parents; one infant daughter, Marlene; and his father-in-law, Carl Byron.