Baker City, 1942-2020
Janice Irene “Jan” Erwin, 78, of Baker City, died May 15, 2020, at her home surrounded by her husband and sons after a courageous, nearly 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s.
Due to coronavirus issues a small, private family graveside service will take place Friday, May 22, in Union.
Jan was born on Feb. 5, 1942, at La Grande to Ella (Erickson) and Lawrence Hibbeln of Union. She attended grade school in Union, then moved to Pilot Rock in second grade when her father, a saw filer, transferred to the mill there. She returned to Union in high school where she was active in almost everything, participating in basketball, volleyball, pep club, thespians, National Honor Society and FHA. She was elected as class secretary, Sweetheart Queen and Homecoming Princess.
While at Union High School she also met the future love of her life, Richard Erwin, who was 2 years her senior. After graduation she originally moved to Boise to attend business school; however, Richard soon called and asked her to come home, he wanted to get married. He asked, she happily accepted, and they were married on Nov. 18, 1960.
Jan and Richard then moved to La Grande while Richard finished college at Eastern Oregon. After his graduation they moved to Baker City in 1963, where he became manager at California Pacific Utilities (now Oregon Trail Electric).
Jan became mother to three boys and from that point forward their activities and ballgames were the highlight of her life as she attended virtually every event and ballgame, cheering them on and keeping score at all of the Little League, Babe Ruth and high school games, either officially or just because she enjoyed it. She knew all of her kids’ friends and her house across from the high school was open to anyone. She was also active in the community, a member or leader in many clubs like the Jayceettes and TOPS and where she developed and maintained many lifelong friendships.
When her boys grew older she became the bookkeeper at Albertsons and did this for many years until her retirement. In addition to the time she enjoyed with family and friends she also enjoyed camping and spending time at their home on Catherine Creek and the cabin her family built on Mount Harris, as well as other outdoor activities like fishing, hunting mushrooms and picking huckleberries in the fall. She also enjoyed reading, her flowers, big card games, and an occasional trip to the casino ... especially if it had a Dean Martin machine. Her biggest joy, though, came from just having her family around her at big family gatherings. Her Thanksgiving meals were legendary — she often started preparing at 4 a.m. and the bigger the crowd the more she loved it.
Jan showed tremendous strength and courage throughout her illness, and even through her darkest days her thoughts were always first on showing concern for others. She was the heart and soul of her family, the only woman in an all-male household and all of the kindness, caring, generosity and empathy that any of us have came from her, her family said (except in pingpong, where she showed no mercy).
Jan is survived by her husband of just under 60 years, Richard, who showed tremendous love and compassion himself caring for her during the last 10 years of her life; her sons, Jeffrey (Donna) of Clackamas, Douglas of Phoenix, Arizona, and Brian (Rhonda) of Baker City; her grandchildren, Michael, Rachel, Kristin (Cody), Cindy (Eric) and Ricky; and her great-grandchildren, Amelia, Baxter, Nick, Alex, Devon and Desiree.
Jan was preceded in death by her parents, Lawrence and Ella Hibbeln; as well as her brothers, Larry and Gene Hibbeln; and her sister, Mary Bell Clyde.
Those who would like to make a donation in memory of Janice may do so to Heart ’N Home through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home & Cremation Services, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.
The family would also like to personally thank those at Heart ’N Home for their care and support throughout this period, as well as the many friends and volunteers who spent time with Jan caring for her, reading to her, playing music for her and just holding her hand.
Online condolences may be made at www.tamispinevalleyfuneralhome.com