Obituaries for the week ending April 8, 2006

April 09, 2006 11:00 pm

Donna "Fern" Culley, 90, of La Grande and formerly of Wallowa County and Baker City, died April 1 at Grande Ronde Hospital. A celebration of life will begin at 11 a.m. Friday, April 14 at the New Life Center, 10700 Walton Road. Burial will be at Mount Hope Cemetery in Baker City at 2:30 p.m. Friday April 14.

Mrs. Culley was born Sept. 15, 1915, to Arthur and Zella Millard Pearson in Enterprise. She was the great-granddaughter of David Kooch, an early pioneer to Wallowa County. She graduated from Enterprise High School in 1934 and on June 15, 1935, she married Floyd Culley. They lived in Baker City where he died in 1972. Over the years took in more than 40 foster children.

She worked at St. Elizabeth Hospital and later as a senior companion, taking many trips with seniors to Canada and The Rocky Mountains. Her most memorable trip was to Jerusalem. She moved to La Grande in 1995 to be near her daughter. The last two years she lived at Wildflower Lodge.

She was a member of the Assembly of God Church, and enjoyed her many friends, oil painting, sewing, gardening, canning and yard sales. She was known for her sweet smile.

Survivors include her daughters and their husbands, Cheryl and Keith Stubblefied of Salem, JoJean and Carl Nelson of La Grande, and Jackie and Eddy Dixon of Poulsbo, Wash.; nine grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren and other relatives. Three sisters, Mildred Shell, Elaine Crabill and Evelyn Wright, and a grandson died earlier.

Memorials may be made to the New Life Center in care of Daniels Chapel of the Valley, 1502 Seventh St.


Flora E. Sleeper, 91, of La Grande died March 28 at a local care center. A celebration of life will begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday April 5 at Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St. Burial will be at Hunters Creek Cemetery in Wales, N.Y.

Mrs. Sleeper was born May 6, 1914, to Theodore and Ida Yaw in East Aurora, N.Y. She grew up in western New York, and on Aug. 31, 1940, she married John Lee Sleeper.

She worked as a clerk in a department store in Buffalo, N.Y., and was an excellent seamstress. She enjoyed traveling, sewing crochet, embroidery, reading, watching soap operas, cooking and baking.

Survivors include her daughter and son-in-law, Sandra and Richard Good of Elgin, and a son Scott Lee Sleeper of Alaska. Her husband, a sister, Augusta Yaw, and two brothers, Norman and Floyd Yaw, all died earlier.


George Wilson Thompson, 97, of Joseph died March 30 at Wallowa Memorial Hospital in Enterprise. A memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. Friday April 7 at the Community Congregational Church in Enterprise. Bollman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Thompson was born Sept. 30, 1908, to Roy and Louise Warren Thompson in Nashville, Tenn. He moved to Oregon in 1914, and graduated from Enterprise High School in 1925. He attended the University of Oregon and on Nov. 15, 1933, married Grace Nilsen in Portland. The couple returned to Enterprise in 1945 where he worked in sales for Thompson Auto. He was a member of the Elks Lodge, the Shriners, Masons, Lions, Toastmasters and served on the Enterprise City Council.

Survivors include his wife of Joseph, children, Bill Thompson of Joseph and Yuma, Ariz., Mali Hagan of Wallowa Lake, and Sally Thompson of Union Gap, Wash.; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Sherman Dale Murray, 76 of Perry, died April 4 at his home. Viewing will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday April 7 at Daniels Chapel of the Valley, 1502 Seventh St. A celebration of life will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday April 8 at the La Grande Mavericks clubhouse next to the Union County Fairgrounds. Burial was at Grandview Cemetery.

Mr. Murray was born July 12, 1929, to Dallas Packard and Laura Lavina McInnis Murray in Newberg. He worked for his uncle on a dairy farm in Tillamook, on ranches in Eastern Oregon and in the timber industry as a logger and later at a saw mill. In 1946 he married Iona Duncan in Vancouver, Wash. In 1955, he began working for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He was stationed in the Wenaha District near Troy. He retired after more than 30 years.

The family later moved to Rhea Creek near Ione where he went into business with his son, Lynn, making saddles and chaps. After his wife died, he moved to Perry. He was self-taught at many things, including sewing, and made western shirts for himself and for many of his friends. He also made one-of-a-kind formal dresses for his daughters.

He competed in rodeos for more than 60 years in calf roping, team roping and bull dogging. He participated in the Senior PRCA National Finals in Oklahoma and belonged to the Old Timers roping club, the La Grande Mavericks and the Black Powder gun club. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, playing golf, reading and playing the guitar and singing with his son and daughter in music festivals across the country.

Survivors include his children and their spouses, Dayle and Warren Jennings of La Grande, Lavina and Stan Greenough of Island City, Aline and Tom Yeakley of Payette, Idaho, and Nolan and Carole Murray of Birch Bay, Wash.; 10 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; two brothers, Rod Murray of Ione, and Russell Shook of Sisters. A son, Lynn Murray, and sisters, Laura Haynes, Virginia Coleman and Mildred Walters, all died earlier.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Grande Ronde Hospital Hospice or any charity in care of Daniels Chapel.


June Isabel VanBlokland, 88, of Salem and formerly of Joseph died April 1. A private service will be held at a later date. Bollman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Mrs. VanBlokland was born June 24, 1917, to Charles and Pearl Conrad at home west of Imbler. She graduated from Imbler High School in 1935, and on Oct. 31, 1936, she married Gene VanBlokland in Walla Walla. They lived in Cove until 1948 when they moved a farm near Joseph. In 2002 she moved to Salem to be closer to family.

She enjoyed Joseph sports, and attended most of the football and basketball games for years after her two sons graduated from school. She had a great sense of humor and was known, along with her husband, for practical jokes. She had many friends in spite of the fact that she told them exactly what she thought.

Survivors include sons and their wives, Mike and Katie VanBlokland of Newport, and Mick and Mary Lu VanBlokland of Salem; siblings and their spouses, Jean Ann and Ed Miller of Portland, and Wes and Betty Conrad of Wallowa; seven grandchildren; one great-grandchild and other relatives.

Her husband, a brother and a sister-in-law, Clifford and Blanche Conrad, died earlier.


Betty L. Hammond, 78, of Enterprise died April 6 at a care center. A Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday April 12 at St. Katherine's Catholic Church with Father Peter Fernando officiating. Burial will be at the Joseph Cemetery. Bollman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Mrs. Hammond was born Feb. 29, 1928, to Albert and Ethel Lozier Strohm in Joseph. On Oct. 8, 1955, she married Richard Hammond in Pomeroy, Wash. She drove a school bus for 21 years, and after her retirement drove the bus for the senior meals for four years. She participated in many appaloosa trail rides, and her husband were grand marshalls in 1997 for the Hells Canyon Mule Days.

Survivors include her husband of Enterprise; a daughter, Ginger Kennedy of Brookings; a brother, Jim Strohm; and two grandchildren.


Lori Leigh Hayes-Kotter, 49, of North Powder, died April 4 at Baker City of gunshot wounds. A memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Powder Vallye School, with a buffet lunch afterward at the grange hall.

Mrs. Hayes-Kotter was born Jan. 14, 1957, to Clyde and Ann Hayes in Enterprise. She grew up on the family farm near Hurricane Creek and graduated from Joseph High School in 1975. She was active in sports and 4-H.

She worked for the Post Office and enjoyed gardening and being with her family and friends. She was involved with the Powder Valley School and other community activities. She was never without a smile and was always helping and caring for those in need. She loved life.

Survivors include her husband, Brian Kotter, and daughter, Candra Clark, of North Powder; a son and daughter-in-law, Joshua and Summer Power of Jonesboro, Ark.; her mother, Ann Hayes, of Joseph; a brother and sister-in-law, Jim Hayes and Wendy McDaniel of Joseph; a brother, Blane Hayes of Joseph; a sister and brother-in-law, Mary Kay and Bob Pace of Winnemucca, Nev.; a grandson and other relatives. Her father died earlier.

Memorials may be made to the North Powder Girls Athletic Association, the North Powder Library or any charity.