Baker City, 1927-2018
Joseph Dale Lethlean, 91, of Baker City, died March 28, 2018, and was called home to be reunited with loved ones there. On this side of the veil, he will be dearly missed, his family said.
To celebrate Dale’s life, a funeral will take place Saturday, April 7, at 1 p.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2625 Hughes Lane in Baker City, with a visitation at noon. Interment will follow at Mount Hope Cemetery with military honors and the dedication of the grave. There will also be a visitation on Friday, April 6, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Coles Tribute Center, 1950 Place St.
Joseph Dale Lethlean was born on Feb. 17, 1927, at Muddy Creek to Joseph Henry Lethlean and Effie Ellen Davidson Lethlean. At age 6, Dale became a big brother to Joy Elizabeth. His childhood was spent working on the farm with his father and Uncle Bill, whose teachings were invaluable. At the age of 8, Dale became very ill and had a near-death experience. This moment remained with him his whole life.
At age 9, having traded a calf for a Howard piano, Dale’s love for playing musical instruments began. After a few years of piano lessons, Dale bought a clarinet. By the age of 16, he swapped out his clarinet for a trombone and taught himself how to play it. Dale became quite accomplished on the trombone. He played in area bands for many community dances.
Dale grew up attending Muddy Creek School. One day during high school, Dale saw the woman he would marry, Vera Mae Thorne, standing on the stairs on her first day at school. With the closure of Muddy Creek School during the school year of 1944-45, Dale would graduate from Haines High School in the spring of 1945.
Shortly after graduation, Dale received a letter from the president of the United States instructing him to report in October 1945, at Fort Lewis, Washington, to join the U.S. Army. Basic training was received at Camp Pendleton, California. In December 1945, on a three-day pass, Dale married his high school sweetheart, Vera, at El Paso de Robles, California.
All too soon, Dale boarded a ship on his way to fight overseas. En route, the ship stopped at Pearl Harbor where Dale was called off the ship. Dale became a part of the 501st AAF (Air Corps) Band at Wheeler Army Air Field, until he received an honorable discharge in July 1946. Dale was decorated with the Asiatic Pacific Theater Service Medal and the Victory Medal.
Upon returning home to his bride, their first son was born, J.D. Initially, Dale began working for Clayton Jackson at Jackson’s Food Market in Baker. Within a short time, he was manager of the General Store in Pondosa, a sawmill town in Baker County. During this time, a daughter, Linda, was born.
In the early 1950s, with the closure of the General Store, Dale moved his family back to Baker to work again at Jackson’s Food Market. While being responsible for many tasks, Dale was trained as a butcher.
During the 1950s, three more sons would be added to the family: Kim, Jim and Tim. Also, Dale and Vera, along with their children, became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Jan. 1, 1957, Dale and Vera became the owners of the In & Out Drive In.
With a drive-in to operate during the winter months, Dale realized he needed to keep the lot plowed for his customers. Dale designed and built a snowplow he attached to his 1940s Willys Jeep, and in later years on his 1970 Chevy Blazer. It did not take long for other business owners in town to ask Dale for this service for their establishments. This would be a winter venture Dale and his sons would perform for several decades.
It was in the early 1960s, wanting to sell chicken in his new business, that a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise was secured. During this period, a daughter joined the family, Kay. Never busy enough, Dale leased the Topz Café in Baker for one year. June 12, 1965, was the day the Lethlean family was sealed for time and all eternity in the Idaho Falls, Idaho, Temple. In the late 1960s, Dale served on the Baker City Council.
In an effort to preserve area history, Dale met with a few local residents to discuss the organization of the Sumpter Valley Railroad Restoration. Along with other family members, Dale donated his equipment and many hours of service to the railroad. Dale was a Life Member of SVRR.
By the mid-1970s, trying to keep his sons busy, Dale returned to his roots of farming and ranching. Soon the family farmed 260-plus acres and had over 100 head of cattle — in addition to the In & Out Drive In! Furthermore, to keep the KFC franchise, Dale, with the help of his sons, converted the Texaco service station on the adjoining lot of the block into a KFC restaurant. This building now houses Paizano’s Pizza.
In an effort to retire, Dale and Vera sold both restaurants in 1981. Upon ownership being returned, true retirement would not come for him until 2015. During intermittent times, Dale worked for the hardware store in North Powder, the Sunridge Inn in Baker City and Pine Creek Mining near Unity.
In 2002, after 56 years of marriage, Vera passed away. A couple years later, Dale met Darlene Friedlander. They were married in 2005 and were able to spend several years together until her death in 2013.
Dale was never an idle man. Work defined his days. In the rare instances he could get away from work, Dale had a passion for mining, hunting, skiing, fishing, cooking and reading. Later in life, he especially enjoyed taking drives through the Baker Valley with family members.
Dale is survived by his sons, J.D. (Linda), Kim (Gladys), and Tim of Baker City; his daughters, Linda (Russ) Canham of Portland, and Kay (David) Carlson of Vale; a daughter-in-law, Shannon Lethlean; grandchildren: Joseph Dale Lethlean III, Julie Hale, Scott Canham, Dustin Lethlean, Michelle Coley, Jim Allen Lethlean II, Tim Larry Lethlean II, Melissa Culp, Josiah Carlson, Erica Hansen; Lauren Beseau, Noah Carlson and Japheth Carlson; great-grandchildren: Acia, Asher, Anja, Zeniff, Ksenia, Madison, Michael, Marcus, Teygan, Kayla, Mykenzie, Paizley, Vanessa, Draven, Veronica, Alexandria, Tim Larry III, Boone, Daxton, Aria, Enoch, Isaak, Jakub, and Oliver; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Henry Lethlean and Effie Peters; his uncle, William “Bill” Lethlean; his wife, Vera Lethlean; his son, Jim Lethlean; his grandson, Kim William “Bill” Lethlean II; his wife, Darlene Lethlean; and his sister, Joy Miller.
For those wishing to make a contribution in Dale’s memory, the family suggests the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or the Eastern Oregon Museum of Haines through Coles Tribute Center, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814. To light a candle in memory of Dale, go to www.colestributecenter.com
Baker City, 1928-2018
Billy R. “Bill” Pilcher, 89, of Baker City, died March 16, 2018, at his home surrounded by his loving family.
A celebration of his life will take place Friday, April 6, at 2 p.m. at the Baker City Elks Lodge No. 338, 1896 Second St.
Bill was born on June 3, 1928, at Eugene to Harry “H.W.” and Margaret “Davies” Pilcher. Bill joined the Merchant Marines at the age of 16.
From the moment Bill got diesel smoke in his nose, he knew what he wanted to do — become a teamster. Bill and Perry had a logging business for a few years, he worked for K-Lines, Gresham Transfer, and after retirement he worked at the Wagon Wash, meeting many new friends while working there.
Bill had a gift of gab, telling stories about logging roads, trucks, highways, rock hounding, mining and fishing. When inquired on how he was, his typical response, “Fair to middlin.” Weekly, Howard, a great friend, and Bill would road hunt and take all of their favorite mountain drives. He also enjoyed spending many fine days in the field pursuing crafty critters.
A good friend recently wrote, “Bill’s level of courage and realism as he faced his current health challenges were inspiring. Bill was a great person, woodsman, and family man. He will be greatly missed.”
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Jewel “Riggs” Pilcher; his “darling daughter,” Judi Pilcher; his son, Larry Phillips and his wife, Anita; his brother, Perry “P.D.”; his grandson, Kody Robinson and his wife, Michelle; his granddaughters, Talia Ruiz and family, and Danielle Alba and family; his great-granddaughter, Alexis; and nieces and nephews.
His family expressed special thanks for the loving care provided by Heart ’n’ Home Hospice.
Memorial contributions may be made to Heart ’n’ Home Hospice through Coles Tribute Center, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.
To light a candle in memory of Bill, or to leave a condolence for his family, go to www.colestributecenter.com