Obituaries for July 25, 2012

By Baker City Herald July 25, 2012 12:23 pm

Sally L. Powers

La Grande: 1923-2012

Sally L. Powers, 88, of Santa Barbara, Calif., and formerly of Baker City and La Grande, died July 19, 2012, at Santa Barbara. 

Her graveside service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Hillcrest Cemetery in La Grande. 

Sarah Luella Patten was born on Oct. 28, 1923, at La Grande. Known throughout her adult life as Sally, she graduated from high school at La Grande before heading out for Wilson’s Business College in Seattle in 1942. There she met and married Robert Edwin Powers, son of an Irish farming family from South Dakota. He was employed with the original three Nordstrom brothers at their first shoe store in Seattle.

Known as “Bob and Sally,” they were rarely apart. They married in September 1943, enjoying nearly 60 wonderful years together; they were, as it was often said, “two sides of the same hand.” They would later move to Walla Walla in southeastern Washington, where Sally worked for Pacific Power and Light prior to becoming secretary of the Southeastern Washington Fair Board, a position she continued to work from a home office constructed after the arrival of their daughter.

In 1966, the Powers family moved to Baker City and opened their own shoe store, which became known for specialty and boutique orders. They retired after 25 successful and happy years in business, enjoying travel and creative relaxation as they visited family and friends across the United States.

 In addition to her personal and professional partnership with her husband, Sally found time to become a certified Master Gardener; a collector and restorer of fine antiques (she once chased down a rubbish truck to take possession of a discarded Victorian chaise, which she then restored in an Egyptian motif of linen and silk); a designer and seamstress of beautiful gowns, dresses, and coats; and a producer of jams, chutneys, preserves and delightful fruit pies from their garden’s many offerings.

After Bob’s death in July of 2002, Sally moved in April of 2003 to Santa Barbara to live with their daughter and three grandchildren, before finally settling in the Samarkand retirement community, in an “independent living” apartment like she and Bob had visited often during their many trips to Santa Barbara. The Samarkand was a perfect fit for Sally, and she quickly jumped into an easygoing and multi-faceted lifestyle there, taking field trips and joining classes whenever the opportunity arose. She was the official Samarkand Christmas elf for three consecutive years.

 In the course of her time there, she would change residence to “assisted living” and then to “skilled nursing,” having battled back, with an indomitable spirit, from both illness and surgery, rallying to participate in the next big adventure. She went on to become a watercolor artist who worked in brilliant colors and with vivid imagery (she greatly surprised herself), and would play bingo with wicked winning streaks, acquiring stashes of goods which she would then give away.

She lived to see her eldest granddaughter marry, wearing her own wedding dress modified some 65 years later; celebrated each of her grandchildren’s university and college graduations; was there to love, cuddle and play with her first great-grandchild; and was recently made aware that another great-grandchild would soon make his debut. 

Sally lived to become a matriarch who had seen her family through the many cycles of life, and she left this world knowing that for her family right now, everything was good and every ship was sailing safely upright; this held great importance to her as a mother.

“Sally was a genuinely wonderful, generous and remarkable woman, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and she was one of those gentle souls who touched people by her kindness and simplicity,” family members said. “She was a fine example of those of whom it is said were from ‘the greatest generation.’ ”

Survivors include her remaining brother, Charles (Ethyl) of La Grande; her daughter, Colleen (Lee) of Santa Barbara and Rome, Ga.; her granddaughter, Mersedeh Imani Ruiz (James) of Templeton, Calif.; her grandson, Shafiq Hepp of Goleta, Calif.; her granddaughter Ajira Hepp of Goleta; her great-granddaughter, Aslah Imani Ruiz of Templeton; and a great-grandson on the way; many nieces and nephews across the country; lifelong childhood friends, Verna Courtright and Ruth Hulse Coriell, both of La Grande; and the many friends she held dear throughout the Samarkand communities.

She was preceded in death by her father, Harvey Patten; brothers, Clifton and Keith; her mother, Teresa Castle Patten; and her husband, Robert Powers.