Obituaries for Jan. 15, 2014

By Baker City Herald January 20, 2014 10:26 am

Russell Dorran

Hermiston, 1927-2014

Russell Narkaus Dorran, 86, of Hermiston, a local civic promoter and rural electric utilities industry leader, whose impact was both far-reaching and enduring, died Jan. 11, 2014, at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Wash. 

The rosary will be said at 6 p.m. Friday at the Burns Mortuary chapel in Hermiston. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Hermiston. Burial with military honors will be at the Hermiston Cemetery. After the graveside service, there will be a memorial reception at the National Guard Armory, 900 S.E. Columbia Drive, in Hermiston.

Russ was born on May 27, 1927, at Pendleton to William James Dorran and Helen Narkaus Dorran. He was raised both at Helix and on Reed and Hawley Mountain above Weston, graduating from Griswold Union High School in 1945. 

After high school, Russ joined the U.S. Navy and then attended Oregon State University at Corvallis, becoming a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He graduated in June 1950 with a degree in agriculture engineering. 

 Within days, Russ settled at Hermiston and began his long career at Umatilla Electric Cooperative, retiring from his position as general manager in 1991. Russ remained an integral part of various regional and national utilities organizations and committees. He served as the first president of the Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative. 

Although retiring the iconic New Orleans hats for which he became famous, Russ has stayed in the energy business heading Hermiston Energy Services as superintendent for the past 11 years. He served many years on the Hermiston Cemetery Board and as its chairman for the past several years.

Twice recognized as a distinguished citizen in Hermiston, Russ was a charter member of several local service organizations, including the Elks Lodge 1845 and the noon Kiwanis group.

It was a Kiwanis social function that gave Russ a reason to insist Delia Felton Williams accompany him for a date. Russ and Dee were married Aug. 1, 1953. She died in 2003. 

The couple raised six children and spent most of their married lives in a home that Russ designed to be “certified all-electric” in keeping with the latest in rural electrification. 

Baker City was a temporary home for the pair for almost two years in 1987-88 when, with one penny, Russ helped start the new Oregon Trail Electric Co-op to serve that region.

 Among his many accomplishments through the decades, Russ was responsible for helping Blue Mountain Community College come into existence, organized an elaborate fundraising auction for transplant patient Becky Howland, directed state lottery dollars to worthy area projects, helped steer the celebration and educational events for the Oregon Trail and Lewis & Clark Expedition anniversaries, as well as finding time to decorate numerous cakes for the yearly West Park Elementary Dad’s Cake Bake.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Delia; parents, William and Helen; and a nephew, Jim Dorran.

Survivors include sons Dave Dorran, Dan Dorran (Terri), and R.B. Dorran (Kris) of Hermiston, Bill Dorran of San Rafael, Calif., and Bob Dorran (Kathie) of Maryville, Tennessee; daughter, Delia Marie Wallis of Hermiston; brother Randy Dorran (Marge) of Pendleton; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; honorary daughter, Inez Griffels (Steve) of Hillsboro; and special associate, Dorothy Hurrle of Pendleton.

Memorial contributions may be made to the BMCC Foundation, P.O. Box 100, Pendleton, OR 97801; or the Umatilla County Historical Society, P.O. Box 253, Pendleton, OR 97801.

Condolences may be made online at

Ruth Erwin

Baker City, 1922-2014

Ruth Mabel Erwin, 91, a longtime resident of Baker City, died Jan. 9, 2014. 

Her graveside service will be scheduled in May 2014.

 Ruth was born on Feb. 18, 1922, at Olympia, Wash., to Seth Matthews and Elizabeth Pettit Matthews.

In 1936, at the age of 14, Ruth and her older sister Janet (who was also her best friend), moved with their parents to Baker City. Ruth graduated from Baker High School in 1939 at the age of 17 and in June of that year, she married Leslie Erwin in a quiet ceremony at Weiser, Idaho. 

Ruth and Les raised two daughters, Barbara Williams, and Darlene K. Wolf and enjoyed many adventures together during their 64 years of marriage.

 Ruth spent her life as a wife, mother and homemaker and she loved making her home a special place for family and friends. Everyone was welcome at Ruth’s house and no one would leave hungry after a visit. 

She was fond of gardening and took great pride in her flowers, especially the lilies in her front yard. Year after year her family and the surrounding neighborhood would look forward to the beautiful blooms and their heavenly smell that would fill the air each spring, family members said.

Ruth and Les enjoyed many hours together hunting and fishing, especially at Beaver Meadows. In the 1950s, she and Les ran the Union 76 service station on the corner of Washington and First Street, the current site of Sterling Bank. 

Ruth was also an avid baseball fan and kept track of the players for many years. She loved watching any sports game but baseball was her favorite.

 After Les died in 2003, Ruth was an active participant at the Senior Center, especially the Monday afternoon and Friday night card games along with her daily bus trip to lunch. The Senior Center staff and members, especially the bus drivers, took good care of Ruth and ensured her comfort and safety.

 Ruth was blessed with seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren (six girls and one boy) and one great-great-grandchild born in September of 2013. “Grandma Ruth” was passionate about her family and loved spending time with each and every one of them.

Family members expressed their appreciation to her special caretaker, Jodee Howlett, who for five years provided constant care for Grandma Ruth, day and night and was more like a daughter than a caretaker. They also offered thanks for the care provided by the staff at Hospice and Park Street Manor.

Survivors include her daughter, Barbara Williams of Baker City; grandchildren, Robin (Mike) Jones, of Heppner, Karen Williams of Portland, Mike Williams of Baker City and Lisa Rockenbrandt, Chris Rockenbrandt and Misty Wolf, all of Salem; seven great-grandchildren and one great-great granddaughter; and numerous extended family members and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Les Erwin; a daughter, Darlene Wolf; a grandson, Larry Rockenbrandt; and a son-in-law, David L. Williams.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Senior Center through Coles Tribute Center, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR. 97814.