Gene Roark, 87, known by his CB handle as Casey Jones, died Sept. 22, 2017, at Baker City, surrounded by his loved ones.
There will be a celebration of his life at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, at the home of the Roarks and Passes, 39319 Pocahontas Road. There will be a barbecue afterward.
Gene was the son of Houston and Ola Roark, and grew up in Eastern Oregon
Gene drove a truck for more than 40 years without a single ticket or accident. He once even backed a triple load trailer six miles to get to the highway when the road was closed due to flooding!
Upon retirement, Gene could be spotted many mornings drinking coffee and giving the waitresses a “bad” time. He was known for his sense of humor and making everyone feel like they were important.
Gene was an avid sports fan. He enjoyed playing and watching football, basketball, and baseball. His all-time favorite teams were the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Mariners. He gave up the opportunity for a career in major league baseball to marry his high school sweetheart, Florence.
Together they had three children and adopted one. He shared his love of sports with his family. He did his best to attend every ball game, school recital and county fair his children and grandchildren were in.
During his free time, Gene liked to play cribbage and solitaire. He also enjoyed taking care of the animals and irrigating his pastures.
Everyone who has been around him knows his love for taking rides and getting stuck. According to his son when riding with “Grumpy,” “You don’t need 4-wheel drive. You only need a shovel and a chain.”
Gene had a life that would make many envious.
Survivors include his wife of 68 years, Florence; his four children, Harold Roark and his wife, Barbara; Helen Roark-Pass and her husband, Tom; Arinda Roark-Hall; Tami Roark-Anderson and her husband, Ben; nephew, Bill Berry, and his wife, Sue; eight grandchildren, Mindy Pass-Edison, Christina Pass-Harmon, Toby Hall, Ty Hall, Sean Roark, Kelly Roark, Elizabeth Roark, and Talan Anderson; 16 great-grandchildren, four great- great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Esther Chapter No. 11 for the Masonic and Eastern Star Home Endowment Fund, where daughter Arinda resides, or to the United Methodist Church in Baker City.
Baker City, 1928-2017
Cecil Eugene “Gene” Rose, 88, of Baker City, died Sept. 6, 2017, at his home.
His funeral will be at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at the Church of the Nazarene, 1250 Hughes Lane in Baker City. There will be a reception afterward at Quail Ridge Golf Course, 2801 Indiana Ave. in Baker City.
Gene was born on Dec. 21, 1928, at Payette, Idaho, to Cecil Corbett Rose and Mayme Kathryn Ahrens Rose. He had one sister, Paula Lou Rose Lutz.
Gene, the son of a law enforcement officer, grew up with the love and support of family members that included his parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, as well as many wonderful friends. These relationships remained strong throughout his entire lifetime. He fondly remembered the people of Payette, and he was always grateful that he had been raised in this small, rural community.
It was during his youth that Gene developed a passion for sports, and especially for the game of baseball. Throughout his high school years, Gene played on numerous state championship and All-American baseball teams. His love and advocacy for the sport continued his entire lifetime.
Upon graduating from the Payette High School in 1946, Gene attended the University of Idaho at Moscow for one year. There he pledged the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, played baseball for the Vandals, was a sports writer for The Argonaut, and he completed his academic freshman year.
In 1947, he transferred to the University of Oregon at Eugene where we completed his undergraduate work with a degree in journalism, and he earned the position as starting catcher for the U of O Duck baseball team.
While at the University of Oregon, Gene met the love of his life: Coral Jane Kneeland. They were united on Dec. 27, 1950, in Eugene. They were married 62 years.
Upon graduating from the University of Oregon’s School of Law in 1953, the couple settled in Baker City, where Gene became a member of the Grant, Fuchs, Rose and Daron law firm.
In 1956, the couple relocated to Tacoma, Washington, where Gene continued his service as a Judge Advocate Officer (JAG) for the United States Air Force Reserve. He was ultimately promoted to the rank of captain.
Gene and Coral were pleased to return to Baker in 1958, where Gene continued to practice law. The couple stayed busy raising their family of five children and their numerous pets. They also remained very active in community work.
Gene is widely attributed as a key figure in the development of Baker’s Little League Baseball program and baseball facilities like the Wade Williams and Leo Adler fields. Gene served as the first president of the Baker Little League.
Among his many activities, Gene served as the president of the Baker County Chamber of Commerce, he was a member of the State Welfare Commission and he was credited for winning an indefinite extension of West Coast Airlines service to Baker. Many might be surprised that he initiated and served as the director of the first St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Youth Choir. Gene was named one of Oregon’s Three Outstanding Young Men in 1961, and he received the Distinguished Service Award for Baker County.
Gene’s law practice was diverse, but it was his work with the Idaho Power Company to handle condemnation proceedings in Hells Canyon that shifted the direction of his legal career.
In 1969, the family relocated to Ontario where Gene became a partner in the law firm now known as Yturri, Rose.
Gene’s legal work centered on utility law, becoming legal counsel for Idaho Power and for Cascade Natural Gas Company, located in Seattle. In 1983, Gene was named to the Board of Directors for Idaho Power on which he served until 1998.
Over the years, Gene and Coral enjoyed their many friends in Ontario and they remained active in community until Gene’s retirement from the law firm in the mid-1990s. It was then they decided to return to Baker County and retire.
Over the past 20-plus years, Gene continued to be active in numerous aspects of the community. This is especially true with his dedication as a member of the Leo Adler Foundation Board.
As Leo Adler’s attorney, Gene worked closely with Adler to establish a foundation that has undoubtedly changed the face of Baker County. Gene proudly served on the board overseeing the distribution of foundation funds for more than 20 years.
He especially enjoyed the opportunity to award scholarships to graduating high school seniors and those seeking advanced education. It was not uncommon for him to approach a young person who had received a scholarship years prior and ask how things were going for them.
Gene and Coral were dedicated, loving parents. They put a high premium on education for their children. They encouraged all of them to follow their dreams and to speak their minds. The latter being witnessed by guests at any Rose dinner table. No subject was off limits.
Gene’s generous heart, his sense of decency and his humility were greatly appreciated by all who came to know him. His sense of humor was legendary and always delivered with a kindness that often left people chuckling before he said anything. He could tell a great story and he enjoyed visiting with everyone. Without a doubt, he made any room he entered a lot brighter.
His presence will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Gene Rose is proceeded in death by his wife, Coral; his daughter, Kathryn Rose; and grandson, Kevin Rose.
Survivors include his children: son, Bill Rose, and his wife, Karen; daughter, Connie Ross, and her husband, John; son, Bob Rose, and his wife, JoAnn; daughter, Mary Jane Guyer, and her husband, Randy; grandchildren, Kelley, Christie and J.J.; and his great-grandchildren, Elsie, Emme, Chalten, Wills and Elias.
The family suggests memorial contributions in Gene’s name be made to: The United Methodist Church of Haines and The Gene Rose Youth Baseball and Golf Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, through Gray’s West & Co., 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.
Baker City, 1944-2017
Bessie Eveline O’Donnell, 73, died Sept. 15, 2017, surrounded by family and her husband, Tony O’Donnell, who never left her side.
Her funeral will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at Harvest Church, 3720 Birch St. in Baker City. There will be a brief graveside service and dessert fellowship afterward. Guests are encouraged to wear bright colors to reflect Bessie’s love of life.
To try to encapsulate her life into a neat package that fits onto a sheet of paper is impossible, family members said.
“She was loved by many and her impact will be felt into eternity,” they said.
Bessie was born at Oakley, California, on May 1, 1944. She married Tony O’Donnell of Baker City on Nov. 21, 2004.
For years, Bessie worked as a cake decorator in the bakery department of various grocery stores. She helped save the day when there was a wedding cake disaster at her son’s wedding!
Her first great passion was for Jesus. She was a worshiper at heart and loved to sing his praises; being an active member on the worship team at Agape Church where she and her “hero” Tony attended.
She loved fishing, always out-fishing anyone who went with her! She was delighted to catch fish and fry them up to feed them to hungry friends.
Another great love was quilting Thursdays with friends. She has left a legacy of love to her family as each one has a quilt to call his or her own. Additionally, her quilts have touched many around the world, giving generously with her sewing machine. Her endeavors also included canning and sharing food with those in need.
Her best friend, Tonia Johnson of Baker City, says, “Bessie was her sister in every sense of the word” and she will miss their weekly morning chats.
Bessie was preceded in death by parents, Chester Kniss and Goldie Collins; and brothers, Wallace and Ernest Kniss.
Survivors include a brother, Lester Kniss of Oroville, California; sisters, Carol Hogue of Silverton, Marilyn Turner of Antioch, California; brother, Mike Collins of Antioch, California; her children, Ronald and Sheralee Bell of Baker City, Kenneth and Delores Bell of Lebanon, Sandi Solomonson of Reno, Nevada, and Carmen Mooney of Pennsylvania; she will be missed by her five grandchildren, Nathan and Tara Bell of Garibaldi, Savanah Bell of Baker City, Alexis Bewick-Bell of New Town, North Dakota, and Anna Bell of Lebanon; and great-grandson, Alexander Bewick-Bell.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Luke’s Cardiac Unit through Gray’s West & Co., 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.