Obituaries for the week of Jan. 29 to Feb. 2

February 02, 2001 12:00 am

Joe OConnor

William Joseph Joe OConnor, 93, a symbol of Baker City, died among family and friends on Jan. 31, 2001, at St. Elizabeth Health Care Center.

A vigil service will be said at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, First and Church streets. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at the cathedral. Celebrant will be the Rev. Robert C. Irwin of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral. Interment will be in Mount Hope Cemetery. Visitations will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at the Coles-Strommer Funeral Home, 1950 Place St.

Mr. OConnor was a familiar sight around town. He was born on Jan. 8, 1908, to John and Walburga OConnor. He lived his entire life in Baker City. He attended and graduated from St. Francis Academy and went to college for a year.

He joined the U.S. Army during World War II and served in the Aleutian Islands. Except for his wartime stint, he owned and operated his Gun Shop in Baker City from 1932 to 2000 when it finally closed.

During his life, he was an avid outdoorsman, hunter and miner. He also enjoyed history, writing and photography. He was a man who could tell you just about anything about the history of Baker County and Baker City. He wrote and published the book The Old Grey Eagle (about Col. Baker for whom Baker City was named). He also published numerous articles in the American Rifleman.

Mr. OConnor was constantly involved in groups and organizations of interest to him. He was a charter member of the Powder River Sportsmens Club in 1953 and was made an honorary life member in 1965.

He worked as an editor of the Powder River Sportsmens newspaper from 1958 to 1987. In 1988, the Powder River Sportsmens Club started an annual competition shoot in his honor.

He received many awards for conservation during his lifetime, including the Golden Beaver Award from the Oregon Division of the Izaak Walton League in 1976 and the Wildlife Conservation Service Award in 1982.

He was a lifelong member of St. Francis de Sales Parish and the Knights of Columbus. In his lifetime he made unique contributions to the history of Baker City and left a lasting mark on those who knew him. His stories and presence will be deeply missed by family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Walburga OConnor; his sister, Walburga Brennan; his brothers, Francis and Micheal OConnor; and a grandnephew, John Day.

Survivors include his four nieces and one nephew and their spouses, Ann and Matt Kniesel, Margaret and Jon Eyer, Mary and Tom Norton, John and Sandy Brennan and Colleen and Jeff Collier; 14 grandnieces and grandnephews and their spouses, Tony Day, Michael Day, Theresa and Brett Hamilton, Colleen and Lenny Keiser, Christine Eyer, Jon and Jennifer Eyer, Matthew Eyer, Jenell and Jimmy Zamora, Benjamin and Cynthia Norton, Calvin Collier, Joseph Collier, Jacob Collier, Michael and Becky Brennan and Angela Brennan; and six great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews, Thomas Hamilton, Samuel Hamilton, Jonathon Brennan, Samantha Brennan, John Keiser and Joseph Keiser and two soon to born.

Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Francis de Sales Knights of Columbus Scholarship Fund through the Coles-Strommer Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, Ore. 97814.

Steven Fletcher

Steven Lee Fletcher, 58, a longtime Baker City resident, died Jan. 31, 2001, at his familys home in Baker City after a long battle with cancer.

His memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Church of the Nazarene, 1250 Hughes Lane. Pastor Roger Scovil of the Baker City Christian Church will officiate.

Mr. Fletcher was born on Oct. 5, 1942, at Tonasket, Wash., to Wendell E. and Jean D. Fletcher. He grew up on the family ranch in the Okanogan Highlands between the old mining communities of Molson and Chesaw, Wash.

After graduating from Molson High School in 1961, he attended Central Washington University, Washington State University and graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelors degree in forest management in the fall of 1967.

He was inducted into the U.S. Army and served stateside the next two years.

His lifes work as a forester for the U.S. Forest Service began in the Blewett Pass area of Ellensburg, Wash., while attending Central Washington University. After leaving the military service, he started working for the U.S. Forest Service again in May of 1970 at Prairie City as a Forest Service representative.

For 30 years he also served as Timber Sale Project coordinator on the Baker District, silviculturist on the Hells Canyon National Recreation and Eagle Cap Wilderness Areas, forest health coordinator and watershed analyst and recently until his illness, in the planning department with the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Baker City.

He was always grateful for serving the communities of Prairie City, John Day, Enterprise and Baker City. He retired Dec. 18, 2000, after 34 years of government service.

His lifelong marriage to JoAnne Deardorff began on Nov. 4, 1972, at Canyon City. After moving to Baker City in 1974, the couple accepted the Lord at the Baker City Christian Church where Mr. Fletcher served as deacon until his illness.

Their love and faith brought two wonderful children into the world. They also became foster care and student foreign exchange parents and gave shelter for many youngsters through the years.

Mr. Fletchers primary interests were family, work and the church. Other interests included anything to do with the outdoors. Among these were fishing, hunting, wood cutting, motorbike riding and hiking. He will be remembered in the hearts of his family and friends.

Survivors include his wife, JoAnne, and son, Neil, of Baker City; a daughter, Kristi, of Eugene; his mother, Jean of Oroville, Wash.; brothers and sisters-in-law, Ron and Anita of Wenatchee, Wash., Gary and Tedi and Danny and Donna of Oroville, Wash., and Scott and Teri of Chelan, Wash.; and many other relatives and friends.

His father, Wendell, died in June of 1988.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Pathway Hospice of Baker City through Grays West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, Ore. 97814.

Nancy Taylor

Nancy Ann Taylor, 58, of La Grande, died Jan. 30, 2001, at a La Grande care facility.

A memorial service will be scheduled later. The Daniels Chapel of the Valley in La Grande is in charge of arrangements.

Mrs. Taylor was born on March 14, 1942, at Lebanon to Alvin and Inez Kaufman Haman. She lived most of her life in Portland before moving to Pendleton where she worked for the Eastern Oregon Hospital and Training Center.

She married William Taylor in Boise on April 2, 1981. She enjoyed taking care of the elderly and the handicapped as well as music and reading.

Survivors include her husband, William Taylor of Scio; children, Debbie Robertson of Spokane, Wash., Larry Prock of Willamina, Taunji Haman of Hermiston, Michael Kenney of Ontario, Steven Kenney of Hermiston, Angela Hughes of Kennewick, Wash., and Greg Taylor of Willamina; 19 grandchildren; and other relatives and friends.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Nancy Taylor Memorial Fund through the Daniels Chapel of the Valley, 1502 Seventh St., La Grande, Ore. 97850.

Robert McElvain

Robert Lee McElvain, 71, a longtime Baker City resident, died Jan. 26, 2001, at St. Elizabeth Health Care Center.

His body was cremated by Grays West & Co.

His memorial service will be scheduled later.

Mr. McElvain was born on Aug. 15, 1929, in Lemmon, S.D.

He was a 1947 graduate of Union High School. He was an all-around athlete in all sports. He was an exceptional player on the basketball court and on the football field.

He also boxed in his high school years. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1948 and served for three years. He enjoyed hunting and fishing, along with other outdoor events.

He farmed some and also did some logging.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Marie; his father, Beryl McElvain; his mother, Margaret McElvain; and his sister, Beverly Marcum.

Survivors include his brother and sister-in-law, Herbert and Ida McElvain; his brother, Dick McElvain; four nieces and two nephews; and great-nieces and great-nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society through Grays West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, Ore., 97814.