Chuck Kuwahara

Halfway, 1960-2019

Chuck Kuwahara, 59, of Halfway, died Feb. 21, 2019, at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

A celebration of his life will take place later, the time and place to be announced.

Charles Walter “Chuck” was born on Jan. 2, 1960, at Salem to his mother, Elaine, and her first husband. His parents divorced when he was still quite young. Elaine then married Fred Kuwahara, who raised Chuck as his own son and formally adopted Chuck at age 9. He was raised in Vale.

As a young man, he enjoyed his time with his Uncle Marvin who taught him how to make chili. Chuck was in a stage band and a jazz band and played the bass guitar in both. He graduated from Vale High School in 1978. Chuck attended Treasure Valley Community College in 1980 where he attained his associate degree. He continued his education at Oregon State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in both language arts and social studies. Chuck had initially worked to attain a degree in geology. However, that changed after a professor at OSU tried to get him to flunk out. This experience is what led Chuck to pursue teaching, so that he would become a better teacher than he ever had.

Chuck met his wife, Brenda Ghrist, on a blind date their mutual friend had set up. He was 45 minutes late because he had played a game of horseshoes and had gone home to shower. This was a habit that Chuck never grew out of — he was never on time, anywhere, ever. Luckily for Chuck, by the second date Brenda was enamored by his sense of humor and decided Chuck was the man for her. They were married on Aug. 14, 1989, at Winnemucca, Nevada.

Chuck became a father in 1986 when his daughter, Sylvia “Sylveeney” was born and again in 1990, when his son Jacob “Boy Child” entered the world. He was a proud dad who enjoyed taking his kids hunting and was with them when each filled their first buck tag. If the kids got injured he would say, “It’s merely a flesh wound” or “It’ll stop hurting when you’re married.”

Jacob said, “My favorite thing about him was his sense of humor and his laugh, it was so infectious.”

Chuck had a love for the outdoors. This love is what drew him to Halfway. His friend, Gene Bates, had heard through the grapevine that Pine-Eagle High School was hiring and encouraged Chuck to go after the teaching position. He was hired in 1985 and became both a beloved English and history teacher. Chuck was known to his students as Mr. K, Kuwie, or Kuwahara. Mr. K was a fun, inspiring and passionate teacher.

He said, “If I can make a difference in just one kid, then I have done my job.”

Often he required his students to memorize various quotes, many of which his former students can still recall today. He was empathetic and sometimes books, quotes, or stories could bring him to tears. Mr. K. would play guitar in class on special days and could, with his wit, challenge his students to dig a little deeper or to try a little harder. He loved teaching with his whole heart and achieved his goal of making a positive impact. Chuck retired in 2015, but he never passed up an opportunity to teach a life lesson or philosophize when he got the chance.

On Nov. 13, 2017, Chuck suffered a stroke. He was frustrated because he knew so much language and was so articulate and yet, he could not get it out. This hindrance drove Chuck to fight and to work hard to recover. His speech therapist was so impressed by Chuck’s perseverance that she eventually told him she could do no more. Chuck said the stroke taught him to appreciate the little things and not to take one day for granted, “carpe diem.”

Chuck enjoyed getting firewood with his faithful dog, Frapkin. His hobbies included whittling wood, making wooden canes, walking sticks and wall art. He would find pieces of wood, sand them down and allow the natural colors and shapes to come out on their own. He would then add strips of leather of gems, rocks, or arrowheads.

Chuck relished huckleberry and mushroom picking, collecting copious amount of hats, watching and laughing to “The Big Lebowski,” and “Monty Python.” He appreciated good music and loved to play the guitar and sing along. A favorite song he’d play was “Seven Spanish Angels” by Willie Nelson. Chuck treasured spring break trips with his family that included exploring the Oregon Coast, Yellowstone and Mesa Verde’. He adored and especially loved playing with his beautiful grandkids.

Chuck is survived by his wife of 29 years; his daughter, Sylvia, and her husband, Dustin Gratiot; his son, Jacob, and his wife, Chelsea Kuwahara; his parents, Fred and Elaine Kuwahara of Vale; his sister, Teresa, and her husband, Bryan Bitting of Boise; and his grandchildren, Harper, Olivia and Hudson Gratiot.

Chuck was preceded in death by his brother, Nic Kuwahara.

For those would like to make a donation in memory of Chuck the family suggests either Creating Memories (an organization that connects children and adults with nature to create memories) or the American Heart Association through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home & Cremation Services, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834. The family requests stories of Chuck be shared to stories.kuwie@gmail.com . Online condolences can be made at www.tamispinevalleyfuneralhome.com

Dana Lee

Baker City, 1960-2019

Dana Suzanne Lee (Williams), 58, died Feb. 21, 2019, in Baker City, where she had lived for the past 16 or so years.

Dana was born June 3, 1960, at Reno, Nevada. She graduated from Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, and lived in several places around Oregon and Idaho. She worked in Baker most recently at Bi-Mart pharmacy, and before that at Albertsons, Jackson’s and Chaves Consulting.

She lived alone with her cat and dog but had many friends, especially Jason and Natalie Costello and their two boys, who she held close to her heart. Dana loved flowers, wild and garden, and often had large bouquets in her house. She loved to cook and bake — people especially liked her pumpkin rolls and crab cakes. She gave great birthday parties. She knew how to celebrate!

Dana was a cheerful, optimistic person who never gave up when faced with life’s hurdles; she loved people and helped whenever she could. Her father once said, “She never knew a stranger.” She was a tremendous help to her ailing mother over the past several years, although she was very sick herself.

Dana was preparing to make a journey around the West to see the sights she had always marveled at but never got to see for herself — the Grand Canyon, the mighty redwoods, Yellowstone National Park. She had just sold her home and bought a 5th-wheel trailer which she was readying for her grand adventure. Unfortunately, ill health took her on a different journey altogether.

Dana is survived by her mother, Patricia Rowe of Baker City; her father, Lane Williams of Midvale, Idaho; her sister, Karen Wil liams of Southport, North Carolina; her brother, Steve Williams and wife, Constance, of Portland; her two nieces, Irene Williams of Portland and Erica Williams Potter of Wales; her three uncles, Jim Rowe of Washington, Bob Rowe of Twin Falls, Idaho, and a recently found uncle via DNA, Rod Ditman of Washington.

Dana is terribly missed and remembered with tremendous love...our girl, Dana, her family said.

In lieu of flowers the family recommends donations be made to the American Lung Association through Gray’s West & Company Pion eer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.

To light a candle in memory of Dana, or to leave a condolence for her family, go to www.grayswestco.com

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