Obituaries for March 31, 2014

By Baker City Herald March 31, 2014 03:48 pm

Ben Mewhirter 

Baker City, 1933-2014

Sanford Benjamin “Ben” Mewhirter, 81, of Baker City died March 13, 2014, at St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise. 

There will be a celebration of his life at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at the Baker City Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, 2005 Valley Ave. 

Ben was born on Feb. 12, 1933, at Sturgis, S.D., to Sanford Benjamin Mewhirter Sr. and Margaret Benoist Mewhirter. He was half American Indian and was a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of Eagle Butte, S.D. 

At age 16, Ben enlisted in the National Guard, followed by serving six years in the U.S. Navy and three years for the U.S. Army Corps. He finished his active duty in 1960 and worked the next 22 years for the Ford Motor Co. assembly plant in Milpitas, Calif. 

Ben was first married to Yachiyo Nanaka of Japan who had a daughter, Judy. They divorced in 1977, and in 1978, he married his “wife for life,” JoAnna Kirkman, who had five children: Dean, Dan, Julie, Rita and Rick. 

After the Ford plant closed in 1983, Ben worked at a company that manufactured camper shells, a residential home for the mentally handicapped, and a tour bus company. In 1996, Ben and JoAnna moved to San Luis Obispo, Calif., where Ben drove a van to transport mentally and physically handicapped people. 

In 2002, the couple bought a home at Baker City and Ben worked seasonally for the U.S. Forest Service. In 2008, JoAnna was moved to an assisted living center at San Jose, Calif. 

After his separation from JoAnna, Ben decided to spend his final years surrounded by Oregon’s open-spaces, beauty, and charm, family members said.

Ben accepted the Lord as his savior and went to church throughout the years. He enjoyed fishing and being in the outdoors. 

Ben was a very quiet, gentle, caring, and kind man, and always went above and beyond to help others. He is deeply loved and will be greatly missed, family members said.

Survivors include his wife, JoAnna Mewhirter; daughters, Judy Segura of Gilroy, Calif., Julie (Tim) Perry of Atascadero, Calif., and Rita Burns of San Jose, Calif; sons, Dean (Cathy) Lees of Atascadero, Calif., Dan Lees of Baker City and Rick (Lynda) Rodarte of San Jose, Calif; niece, Cheri Davidson of Eagle Butte, S.D.; nephews, Sanford Gabe of Ft. Thompson, S.D., and Kevin Mewhirter of Eagle Butte, S.D.; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; and sister, Estelle Marie.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center, 1250 Hughes Lane, Baker City, OR  97814.

‘Gus’ Sword

Baker City, 1928-2014

Gustav “Gus” Sword, 85, of Baker City, died March 25, 2014, at his home. 

His memorial service was Saturday at Calvary Baptist Church in Baker City.  Interment was at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Gus Sword was born on June 2, 1928, at the old Protestant Hospital in Baker City to Efraim “Ed” and Anna Sword. He was raised and educated at Baker and was a 1946 Baker High School graduate.

Gus was drafted into the U.S. Army on Oct. 1, 1950, during the Korean War and served at the Ordnance Supply Depot in Japan. 

He married Cleta Faye Simrell on April 29, 1955.  They had a son, Joseph Carl, and daughter, Carol Jean.

He worked for the Howard Jones-John Deer Tractor Co.  Later, he worked at Burnt River Lumber Co. and retired from Ellingson Lumber Co. He was a lifelong member of the Calvary Baptist Church. His Christian faith and family were very important to him, family members said.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Cleta; children, Joseph Sword, and Carol and her husband, Bob Whelan; brother, Don Sword and his wife, Evelyn, of Vale; special nieces, Neva Walter Clark of Nevada, Jeanne Walter Gillert of Texas, and Laura Sword Hancock of Vale; sister-in-law, Betty Simrell of Costa Rica; brothers-in-law, Barry Simrell and his wife, Esther, of Milton-Freewater,  Norman Simrell and his wife, Luella, of Prairie City, and Robert Simrell and his wife, Vicki, of Eugene; and extended family.

 He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Viola, and her husband, John Walter; and nephew, Steven Sword. 

 Memorial contributions may be made to the Calvary Baptist Church Memorial Fund through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.

‘Pete’ Boice

Richland, 1930-2014

Donald D. “Pete” Boice, of Richland, died March 21, 2014, at his home. 

There was a gathering, celebration and stories of Pete’s life Sunday, March 30, at the Shorthorn Restaurant in Richland. 

He was born on Sept. 18, 1930, at Brackenridge, Pa., to Walter D. and Florence M. Behning. He graduated from high school at Brackenridge. After work in steel mills, ranches and lumber camps, he attended college at Fort Collins, Colo., where he met and married Frances R. Heywood.

He worked his way through school, and his education in geology eventually led him to management level positions with cement plants around the world, from Rogue River and Grants Pass in Oregon, to Trident, Mont., Apple Valley, Calif., Marietta, Ga., Jakarta, Indonesia, and Morgan City, La. 

His last position was with US Steel in Trenton, Mich., where he was vice president of the lime and gypsum division. He retired in Elgin, and then moved to Richland.

Pete loved fishing, hunting, camping, and puttering in the shop, family members said. He will be greatly missed by his family, and his dog, Hector. 

Survivors include his four children, Karen, Dave, and Kevin, all of Montana, and Dan of Michigan; grandchildren, Brad, Jenny, Amanda, James, Peter and Ben; nine great-grandchildren; his sister, Jean Schaeffer; nieces, Linda, Michelle and Laura; nephews, Bob, Bill and Lane; and his aunt, Betty Blackmore.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and his brother, Jack.

Memorial contributions may be made to Ducks Unlimited through the online memorial page, or sent to the Baker Chapter through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.