Obituaries for the week of April 30 to May 4

May 04, 2001 12:00 am

Norma Painter

Norma Fay Painter, 81, of Halfway, died April 25, 2001, at Caldwell, Idaho.

Her funeral will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Pine Baptist Church at Halfway. Pastor Shawn Thatcher of Pine Baptist Church will officiate. Vault interment will be at the Pine Haven Cemetery at Halfway.

Visitations will be until 7 oclock tonight at Tamis Pine Valley Funeral Home at Halfway and from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Pine Baptist Church in Halfway.

Mrs. Painter was a granddaughter of pioneer settlers who moved to Halfway in 1889 from Franklin, Idaho. At that time there were only three houses on Main Street in Halfway.

She was born on Feb. 16, 1920, at North Pine, the youngest of four, to Albert and Augusta Gussie Stalker Abernathy.

Her grandparents, Wallace and Matilda Kelly Stalker, had a family home at Halfway and a ranch at North Pine, where the river runs into Pine Creek. These grandparents also ran the store on Main Street and had a house that was at one time located on the parking lot where the Old Pine Store is today.

She later met and married Lee Chetwood. They had one son, Wayne Chetwood.

She spent most of her early years on the North Pine, except for five years spent in the Marcola area.

In 1951, she married Merrill Painter. She and her husband spent many years on their ranch in Pine Valley. Her lifelong hobby was needlework, for which she won many ribbons at the Baker County Fair.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Merrill, in 1990; and two brothers, Albert Bert and Chester Ted Abernathy.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Halfway/Oxbow Ambulance Service through Tamis Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.

LeRoy Smelcer

Old Hand LeRoy Smelcer, 98, of Pine Valley, died April 25, 2001, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

At his request, there will be no service.

Mr. Smelcer was born on Feb. 6, 1903, to Marvin and Milda Schmidt Smelcer. He was a 1921 graduate of Halfway High School. After graduation, he worked with his parents on their ranch.

He married Leslie Inez Denney on June 7, 1926. The newlyweds began their lifelong career in farming and cattle ranching.

In the mid-1930s, the couple purchased property adjoining that of his parents. By the mid-1940s, their first Herefords were registered, and in 1951 the home place on Pine Town Lane was purchased from his mother.

That was the beginning of a successful cow/calf operation spanning almost 60 years. One of his favorite aspects of ranching was working with the land. He raised hay, grain and alfalfa for feed. At age 97 he still enjoyed operating the swather during haying season.

As a young man, he enjoyed woodworking. He created several furniture pieces still being used by the family. He was an avid hunter throughout most of his life. He liked to attend bull sales and while traveling to neighboring states he enjoyed seeing the countryside and the crops being grown. Reading Western novels was a leisure-time favorite.

In 1995, at the age of 92, he was honored at Haines with the Old Hand award. He was still actively working the ranch at that time.

He was co-grand marshal of the Baker County Fair at Halfway in 1996. He led the parade riding his favorite mount, the red horse, a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle. On his left rode his longtime friend, Dude Douglas, a fellow co-grand marshal.

In the years that followed, he continued to ride his ranch atop the red horse, always accompanied by his faithful black dog, Sam.

Leslie, his loving wife of 68 years, died in 1994. He also was preceded in death by his sisters, Vyril Agan and Aletha Hubell; and two granddaughters, Elizabeth and Judy Buttice.

Survivors include four daughters, Volney Facto of Dallas, Ore., Jane Buttice and her husband, Ernie, of Walla Walla, Wash., Benita Thompson and her husband, Carroll, of Halfway and Tiz Landers and her husband, Byrl, of Richland; 12 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren; a brother, Lawrence Smelcer, and his wife, Dorothy, of Halfway; sister-in-law, Lois Raabe; and several nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Halfway Ambulance Service through the Coles-Strommer Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.

May Steele

May Elizabeth Steele, 98, a longtime Pine Valley resident, died April 26, 2001, at the Evergreen Health and Rehab Center in La Grande.

At her request, there will be no funeral. Private family interment will be at the Pine Haven Cemetery in Halfway.

She was born on May 3, 1902, at Halfway to Sheppard and Effie Mitchell Hulse. She spent her childhood and most of her adult life at Pine Valley. She received her education in one-room schoolhouses at Langrell and Clear Creek.

She married Ben R. Steele in Halfway on March 14, 1921. They had one son, Ladd. Ben Steele died in 1965.

She enjoyed gardening, crocheting and being with family and friends.

Survivors include her son and daughter-in-law, Ladd and Juanita Steele of Halfway; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

She also was preceded in death by two sisters and two brothers.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Halfway Ambulance Fund through the Coles-Strommer Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.

Cliff Hagey

Clifford R. Hagey, 93, of Mesa, Ariz., a former Baker County resident, died April 25, 2001, after a four-month battle with spinal cancer.

Family and friends will remember Mr. Hagey by gathering in La Grande later this summer. Disposition was by cremation in Arizona. There will not be a funeral service.

Mr. Hagey was born at the family home in Island City on April 9, 1908, and lived in Union and Baker counties for 62 years. In 1972, he sold his farm at Haines and moved to Chandler, Ariz., to begin a new division of Commercial Welding cattle handling equipment and later a division of Port-A-Stall rodeo equipment.

Mr. Hagey lived life to the fullest with few regrets. He often talked about how his life had ranged from horse-and-buggy days to seeing man land on the moon. As a young man, he once rode a saddle horse from Hot Lake to Pendleton to see the first talking picture show to come to Eastern Oregon.

He was known as a hard worker and a good cowboy. He took pride in good horses, straight fences and gates that didnt drag. During the 1950s, he was captain of the Baker County Mounted Sheriffs Posse.

He worked diligently to put together the Old Oregon Trail Stampede, the 1959 Centennial Pony Express Ride and the Bucking Horse Remuda. He was a well-known rodeo announcer for more than 25 years.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth; brothers, Darl and Ralph Hagey; and many very good friends.

Survivors include his sons and daughters-in-law, Darl and Annette Hagey of Missoula, Mont., and Brian and Debra Hagey of Gresham; grandchildren, Shane, Jenny and Jason Hagey; great-grandchildren, Logan, Hillary, Rachell, Connor and Kimberly; foster daughter, Cindy Parker; and brother, Floyd Hagey, and sister, Beulah Tahl, both of La Grande.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of the Valley, 2145 W. Southern Ave., Mesa, AR 85202.

Eva Hendrix

Evalenea Eva Hendrix, 93, of Halfway, died April 29, 2001, at Halfway.

Her funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the Presbyterian Church in Halfway. Pastor Bill Shields of the Presbyterian Church in Halfway will officiate.

Mrs. Hendrix was born on Nov. 17, 1907, to John and Selenea Bassett Buchanan at Sunset Valley, now Buchanan Valley, an area of Pine Valley. Mrs. Hendrix lived in Pine Valley all of her life except for two years when she went to Wingville to milk cows and then to Payette, Idaho, where she worked in the apple orchards, picking apples for two cents a box.

During her life, she enjoyed crochet work. She started learning to crochet when she was 7. She also added to her handiwork by embroidering. She liked to travel and to cook. At one time she won an award for her lemon pie.

She married James Hendrix at Weiser, Idaho, on Nov. 17, 1936.

In 1942, she and Jim moved to the 1,700-acre ranch which had been homesteaded by her father, John Buchanan.

Survivors include a son, James J. Hendrix, and his wife, Monique; a daughter, Ora Skip Selenea, and her husband, Dave Romine of Halfway; 10 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Selenea; her husband, James J. Hendrix; her daughter, Marie Griffin; brothers, Robert and Orville Buchanan; and sisters, Ella Thomas and Beulah Crow.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Halfway Senior Meal Program through Tamis Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.

Paul Fisher

Paul E. Fisher, 81, of Baker City, died April 20, 2001, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

At his request, there will be no services. Arrangements are under the direction of Coles-Strommer Funeral Home.

Mr. Fisher was born March 23, 1920, at Sault Saint Marie, Mich., to Edward and Helen Johnston Fisher.

He served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, attaining the rank of sergeant. After the war he moved his family to John Day. He spent many years in Grant County, working in the lumber industry. He also worked in Washington, California and Utah before settling in Lowell. He had recently moved to Baker City to be close to family.

During his youth Mr. Fisher traveled across the country, hopping freight trains, playing gigs in nightclubs and shagging baseballs at every opportunity.

One of his proudest moments was when the city of Lowell named a city park after him. He created and maintained the park while he was a city employee. Marshall Lockwood, a dear friend from Baker City, worked alongside Mr. Fisher in this endeavor.

Mr. Fisher is survived by his children, Dwayne Fisher of Baker City, Jo Ann Barnes of Spokane, Wash., Judy Olson of Livingston, Mont., Chuck Fisher of Santa Rosa, Calif., Scott Fisher of Davenport, Iowa, and Daryl Fisher of Spokane; stepchildren, Ramon Lara of Baker City, Jeanne Smith of Seneca, Lola Cowgill of Pasco, Wash., and Tom Lara of Newberg; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and close friends.

He was preceded in death by his former wife, Pearl Wood Fisher, who died in 1986; and his wife, Essie Lara Fisher, who died in 1998.