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At least 50 remembrance cards currently grace the Tree of Lights at Patís Alley in La Grande. The Tree of Lights will remain up during the holiday season. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Annual ceremony set for Thursday
The commitment is one Clifford Hilliker, the late father of Mickey Savage of La Grande, kept almost every evening for at least 60 years.
Hilliker, a popular minister in Michigan, started writing a diary when he was about 15 and continued for the next six decades.
“He would write in it every night. It was amazing,” Savage said.
Savage has been re-examining her father’s diary with increased interest. She will be saluting him Thursday during the annual Tree of Lights Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. at Pat’s Alley, 1414 Adams Ave. People who have passed on are recognized and remembered at the event.
The ceremony will have double emotional impact for Savage because she will also be saluting her late husband, Doc, who died at age 80 in August.
“This will be my first Christmas without Doc,” Mickey Savage said of her husband, a beloved figure in La Grande, known for his success as a high school teacher, football coach and Union County commissioner.
Mickey said that honoring her late husband will not only keep his memory alive but also fill a portion of the sense of emptiness she feels.
The focal point of the Tree of Lights ceremony, which started in 1995, will again be a Christmas tree at Pat’s Alley, which will be illuminated for the event. The tree is decorated with red remembrance cards for people who have died. Many contain messages expressing love for family members or friends.
The names and some of the messages people have written will be read at Thursday’s ceremony. Music will be performed by Kelly Skovlin and Steve Hines.
The Tree of Lights has at least 50 remembrance cards, including ones for Clifford Hilliker, Doc Savage and Harry Owen. The card for Owen, who died in October 2012 at age 94, is from his wife, Hannah, of La Grande.
“He was the most precious husband in the world,” Hannah said on Tuesday. “I miss him so much. I always will miss him.”
The Tree of Lights will remain up through the holiday season. The names of everyone who has been honored since the inception of the Tree of Lights are recorded in two “Books of Names.” The books are at Pat’s Alley and are available for everyone to read.
People who would like to put up cards honoring loved ones can obtain them from Fitzgerald’s Flowers, Looking Glass Books and at Home Care Services Home Health and Hospice.
A $5 donation is suggested for each card. All proceeds from the event go each year to Home Care Services Home Health and Hospice. The ceremony is open to everyone, not just family and friends of those who have received hospice care.