Obituaries for April 18, 2012

By Baker City Herald April 18, 2012 09:35 am

Brett Austin

Brett Colby Austin, 46, a former Baker City resident, died March 19, 2012, at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City while waiting for an organ transplant. 

A Baker City memorial in his honor will be scheduled this summer. Information will be announced later.

Brett was born on Sept. 5, 1966, at Salem. He was a 1984 Baker High School graduate. 

He joined the U.S. Air Force and served honorably for 12 years. After his time in the Air Force, Brett attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University at Prescott, Ariz. He graduated cum laude with a degree in aerospace engineering.

During his Air Force career, Brett traveled to many foreign lands, including being stationed in Korea, The Philippines, and Iceland. He also had traveled much of the U.S. During recent years he worked for a number of U.S companies as a contract flight test engineer.

Brett’s spare-time passions were flying airplanes and helicopters, fishing and riding his motorcycle.

“Brett made the most of the time he had here and was so very grateful for his children, family and the many lasting friendships he made along the way,” family members said.

Survivors include his daughter, Jennifer Austin of Alamogordo, N.M.; his son, Nicholas Austin of Center Conway, N.H.; his mother, Betty Austin of Imnaha; his sister and brother-in-law, Amy and Eric Smith and their children, Kiah Baker and Austin Smith of Suisun City, Calif.; aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends across the country. 

He was preceded in death by his father, Bob Austin. 

The family feels the best way to honor Brett’s life is to consider signing up to be an organ donor. Check the box on your drivers license or go to to sign up to be an organ donor or to make financial donations.


Lester ‘Bud’ LaRue

Lester Earle “Bud” LaRue, 85, of Halfway, died April 11, 2012, at St. Alphonsus Medical Center-Baker City.

His funeral will be Saturday, April 21 at 11 a.m. at the Pine Haven Cemetery in Halfway. A community potluck will follow at the Halfway VFW Hall.

Bud was born on Feb. 21, 1927, at Lexington, Wash., the youngest son of John Bert LaRue and Margaret Grabe LaRue.

Bud worked for the Oregon State Board of Forestry in Wallowa from 1943-1946 on fire suppression crews and as a fire lookout. He served in the Merchant Marines from 1944-1946 and was stationed in the South Pacific. Bud later served as a private in the U.S. Army from September 1946 to May of 1947.

Following World War II he moved to Halfway where he was a lifelong resident.

He married Mary Belle Ratcliff of Halfway on Sept. 15, 1951. He considered his 51-year marriage to Mary as one of the great joys of his life. He and Mary had one son, Bert Manely LaRue, born May 4, 1953.

Bud worked for the Baker County Road Department from 1958-1970. He was a self-employed sawmill owner from 1973-2002 and loved working in the mountains. Bud and Mary owned LaRue Sanitary Service from 1978-1998. It became a successful venture and expanded with a transfer station in 1993.

Bud was great at building things. He sold “Bud-Bilt” hoes in Halfway for years.

He built a boat, developed hydraulics for a fork lift, and maintained his own sawmill operation. He was big-hearted and would always help others. He was a lifetime member of VFW Post 7847 of Halfway.

Bud is survived by his son, Bert Manely LaRue of Richland; his adopted daughter, Deborah Kloss, and her husband, Daniel Kloss, and two grandchildren, Hayden and Mikayla Kloss, all of Albany; special and longtime friends, the George Fenton families of Umatilla, and Jerry and Nona Woods of Hillsboro; and numerous nephews and nieces.

He was preceded in death by four sisters; Daphine Nerey, Pearl Voget, Jeanne Rumsay and Myrene Lynch.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Pine-Eagle Clinic in Halfway.


Virginia Neff

Virginia May Neff, 78, of Baker City, died April 16, 2012, at her home.

Her funeral was this morning at the Apostolic Lighthouse Church in Baker City. Interment will take place at Deschutes Memorial Gardens in Bend on April 26.

Virginia was born on March 22, 1934, at Portland to Charles J. and Vada A. (Smith) Cady.  She graduated from Bend Senior High School. On July 30, 1953, she married Wilbur Neff in her parents’ home. She worked for the Bend Bulletin circulation department from 1973 until 1991. Some of Virginia’s favorite hobbies included gardening, crocheting, canning and taking trips in her motor home.

Virginia was a member of the Apostolic Lighthouse Church. She was a vivacious, fun-loving person who was a very dedicated Christian. She loved teaching Sunday School, playing her accordion and working with Outreach. She had a consistent prayer life that included praying for friends and family. Virginia was quick to lend a hand to those in need, often going above the call of duty. Her love and concern, along with her love of gardening, drew many people to her. Virginia was also known among her friends for her ingenuity in recycling unwanted items into useful creations. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Survivors include her son, Nathan Neff of Baker City; two daughters, Annette Donahue of Baker City and Hannah Micheletti of Evansville, Ind.; a sister, Patricia Craig of McMinnville;  a brother, Ivan Cady of Yuma, Ariz.; and eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, and a brother, Hal Cady.

Gray’s West & Company Pioneer Chapel is handling the funeral arrangements.