Obituaries for the week ending aug. 26, 2006

August 27, 2006 11:00 pm

William Russell Droschkey, 82, of Cove died Friday at a local care center. A graveside service will begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Cove Cemetery.

Mr. Droschkey was born Oct. 3, 1923, to William and Mary Alice Bill Droschkey in Spokane. He was raised in Idaho and graduated from high school in Orofino, Idaho.

At the age of 14 went to work in the woods. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and on Sept. 18, 1948, he married Shirley Brazil in Cove.

In 1951 he graduated from the University of Utah as a pharmacist, and worked in Pendleton, Burns, John Day and Walla Walla before returning to the Grande Ronde Valley. In 1965 the family moved to Cove, and he continued to work in La Grande until retiring in 1984.

He was a member of the Ontario Elks Lodge, the VFW and the DAV.

He raised horses and mules for recreation in the wilderness and raced horses for seven years in five different states.

Survivors include his wife of Cove; a brother, Dave Best of Lewiston, Idaho; a sister, Myrna Henry of Tacoma, Wash.; and other relatives.

Memorials may be made to the Cove Library in care of Daniels Chapel of the Valley, 1502 Seventh St.


Bob H. Swisher, 85, died Aug. 9 in Enterprise.

A private family service will be conducted later. Bollman Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Mr. Swisher was born Sept. 6, 1920 in Paradise. He was the son of William Harry and Martha Ann (Gordon) Swisher.

A life long rancher, he married Nadine J. Swisher on May 21, 1946. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945. He had the rank of 1st Class Machinist.

Survivors include his wife; daughters Doris Holum and Debbie Brewer; sons Carl and Harry; a sister Leita Beard of Asotin, Wash., five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.


Fern E. Killingbeck, 94, died Aug. 21 at Richland Rehabilitation Center in Richland, Wash. A private family graveside service will be held at the Redmond Memorial Cemetery in Redmond.

Mrs. Killingbeck was born July 8, 1912, at Madras to Thomas Jefferson and Etta Mora Parsley Fields. She lived in Longview, Wash., and The Dalles before moving to Redmond, where she graduated from high school. On Dec. 22, 1930, she married Clarence Herbert Killingbeck in Bend.

She owned and cooked at her restaurant in Redmond for several years. In 1949 she moved to La Grande and operated the lunch counter at Pay Less Drug Store for many years. Mrs. Killingbeck won the Union County Wheat League cake baking contest several times.

In 1994 she moved to Milton-Freewater, and in 1995 her husband died. She moved to Hermiston in 2003. She enjoyed crocheting, knitting, crafts and cooking.

Survivors include children, Thad Killingbeck of Boardman, Clareen Coblens of Milton-Freewater and Carolyn Gibbs of Redmond; nine grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.

Three brothers, Glen, Ned and Thomas, and two sisters, Ona and Blanche, died earlier.

Burns Mortuary of Hermiston is in charge of arrangements.


Russell W. Elmer, 85, of Cove died Aug. 18 at his home. Viewing will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Loveland Funeral Chapel. The funeral will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the LDS Chapel, 11206 S. McAllister Road in Island City. Burial will follow at the Summerville Cemetery.

Mr. Elmer was born Jan. 19, 1921, to Frank and Margaret Meroney Elmer in Lower Cove. He graduated from Cove High School in 1940, and attended welding school in Portland.

On Nov. 10, 1946, he married Norma Jean Roulet of Elgin. They lived in Imbler and Alicel before moving to Lower Cove.

He was a farmer and co-founder of Blue Mountain Grass Seed Co. He served on the Union County Commission from 1970 to 1974. He enjoyed hunting and packing into the Minam with horses and mules. He enjoyed flying and bought his first airplane in the 1960s. Since then, he flew multiengine planes, helicopters and gyrocopters.

He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held many leadership positions. He dedicated his life to serving others.

Survivors include his wife, Norma Jean; a sister, Wanda Hughes of Grants Pass; children Trudy Hassinger of Cove, Doris Grossnickle of Portland, Susan Wesley of Laie, Hawaii, Patti Wise of Woodland, Wash., and Steven Elmer of Shelburne, Vt.; 21 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to Grande Ronde Hospice or LDS Family History Center in care of Loveland Funeral Chapel.


Amelia Garcia Diaz, 80, of Ontario and formerly of La Grande, died Saturday, Aug. 19. Viewing will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and a recitation of the Rosary will begin at 6 p.m. at Loveland Funeral Chapel. A Resurrection Mass will begin at 10 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church. Burial will follow at Hillcrest East Cemetery.

Mrs. Diaz was born Sept. 29, 1925, to Rolando and Maria Gonzalez Garcia in Carrizo Springs, Texas. She married Antonio Sandoval who died earlier. Following his death she married Valdemar Diaz on Feb. 11, 1944. They moved to Nyssa as migrant workers.

Mrs. Diaz was the first president of the first Hispanic PTA in Nyssa and was active in AARP and the Union County Senior Center. She was an avid seamstress, filling many homes with Holly Hobbie quilts. She enjoyed playing nickel slots hoping to hit the jackpot. She enjoyed traveling and sharing stories. She was sad to leave La Grande and her friends but enjoyed living with her family in Ontario for the last few months of her life.

Survivors include children and their spouses, Alberto Sandoval of Carrizo Springs, Amelia and Larry Barr of Terrebone, Ida and Paul Barry of Merritt Island, Fla., Eloy and Bobbi Diaz of Ontario, Diana Diaz of Boise, Irma Rogers of La Grande and Lisa and Arturo Mendez of Ontario; siblings, Alejandra Valdez, Lupe Paulino, Lenore Lazano and Rubenciao Garcia. Her husband; three sons; a daughter-in-law, Bebe Sandoval; two brothers, Miguel and Nicholas; and a sister, Barbarita, all died earlier.


Lisa Lynn Simpson Collis Lanegan, 40, of Vancouver, Wash., and formerly of La Grande and Baker City, died suddenly Aug. 18 in Vancouver. The cause of death has not been determined.

No services have been scheduled. A family gathering will held at a later date to celebrate her life. Dahl-McVicker Funeral Home in Kelso, Wash., is handling arrangements.

Lisa was born March 18, 1966, in San Gabriel, Calif. She attended junior high and high school in Baker but graduated from high school in California.

As a certified nurse assistant she worked as a caregiver much of her adult life and was especially dedicated to the care of the elderly. She worked at nursing homes while living in La Grande in the late 1990s.

She loved the outdoors, especially the ocean and fishing, and just communing with nature and the wonders God created, her family said.

She is survived by her fiance, Ken Garrison; Ken's parents Walt and Joanne Garrison; her son, Sean Paul Lanegan; daughters Kaura and Mylisha Lanegan; mother, Shirley Skemp Collis and stepfather Mel Collis; sisters Shirlette Kenworthy of La Grande, Katrina Madison of Tonasket, Wash., and Cindy Olmsted and her husband Tom of Woodland, Wash.; brother Michael Collis of Portland; grandmother, Bernice Houston Beem, with whom she shared the same birthday; and several other relatives.

She was preceded in death by her father, Marvin T. Simpson Jr., grandparents Marvin and Opel Simpson and Dwyer Havond Skemp.


Irene Adell Reed, 93, of La Grande died Aug. 7 at Grande Ronde Hospital. Viewing will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday and the funeral at 11 a.m. Saturday at La Follette's Chapel in Burns. Burial will follow in the Burns Cemetery.

A memorial reception in La Grande will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the First Baptist Church fellowship hall.

Mrs. Reed was born Aug. 5, 1913, to Leonard Lincoln and Alda Bertha Elliot Davis in Leland, Idaho. She graduated from Kendrick High School in 1931 and Lewis and Clark Normal School 1933. She taught elementary school in Idaho and Oregons. She joined the First Baptist Church in Burns 1937,and was one of the oldest living members. She served the church as deaconess, treasurer, Sunday school teacher, daily vacation school teacher and pianist.

On June 30, 1938, she married Lee Porter Reed at the First Baptist Church. They owned Reed Signs, Office Supplies and Sporting Goods, and served as the local driver's license examiners. She enjoyed reading, playing the piano, sewing, cooking and traveling.

Survivors include daughters and their husbands, Brenda Lee and Roland Whitsell of Gallatin, Tenn., and Marilyn Ann and Verl Miller of La Grande; five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Her husband; a half-sister and her husband, Helen and Jesse Gregory; two brothers and their wives Charles and Shirley Davis, and Carl and Billie Davis, all died earlier.

Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church of

La Grande, Billy Graham Association or the Gideons.


John William "Jack" Evans, 78, of La Grande died Aug. 24 at his home. Viewing will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at Daniels Chapel of the Valley, 1502 Seventh St. A celebration of life will begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Daniels Chapel. Burial will begin at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Wallowa Cemetery.

Mr. Evans was born Oct. 29, 1927, to James Ward and Myrtle Maude West Evans in Wallowa. He graduated from Wallowa High School, and served in the Army Air Forces in 1946 and 1947. He earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Oregon in 1951 and a master's degree in library science from the University of Washington.

On June 17, 1951, he married Dorothy Anna Anderson in Burns. They moved to Hermiston where he was the first full-time librarian for the Hermiston School District from 1953 to 1955.

They moved to La Grande in 1956 when he accepted a job at Eastern Oregon College. He was hired as a librarian at Walter M. Pierce Memorial Library, where he served until his retirement in 1987. He was the library director from 1974 until 1987.

He enjoyed woodworking, and he was an expert at furniture refinishing. He was an avid antique collector and was particularly fond of antique furniture, guns and tools. He was an expert on Victorian architecture. He also enjoyed oil painting, genealogy, classical music, bird watching, wildlife, writing, art, travel, auctions, hiking, camping, hunting, fishing and family time.

He was a member of MENSA, Phi Delta Kappa, the Elks, the American Legion, Sons of the American Revolution, the Oregon Historical Society, the Oregon-California Trails Association, the Oregon Geographical Names Board and the Historic Preservation League of Oregon. He successfully proposed five buildings for the National Register of Historic Places, served on the State Historical Records Advisory Board from 1984 to 1995, helped start the Union County Historical Society and was a self-made expert on local history.

In 1990 he authored "Powerful Rockey", a book about the Oregon Trail in the Blue Mountains area from 1811 to 1883.

Survivors include his wife; son and daughter-in-law, John Ward and Kathleen "Kit" Evans and two granddaughters all of La Grande.

Memorials may be made to the Blue Mountain Humane Association or the Oregon Heart Association in care of Daniels Chapel of the Valley.


Stanley Eugene Thompson, 59, of Island City, died from unexpected natural causes on Aug. 24 at a hospital in Boise.

A celebration of life at the Island City School will begin at 6 p.m. Sunday.

He was born in Arcata, Calif., on Aug. 11, 1947 to Ana Mae (Posey) and Glen Thompson. He was raised and educated in Oakland, Calif., and Eufaula, Okla.

Mr. Thompson enlisted in the Navy in April of 1965. After his naval service, he moved to Government Camp and helped his father cook at the Huckleberry Inn Restaurant. He greatly enjoyed his work for the Forest Service and as a maintenance technician at Gresham Hospital.

He married Lynne on Sept. 1, 1979 in Portland.

Mr. Thompson went to work for the City of Island City and worked there for 21 years. He retired for medical reasons.

Mr. Thompson loved to hunt and fish and most of all he loved to entertain, especially cooking for large groups of friends and family. He and his wife recently purchased their "dream retirement job," The Hells Canyon Inn in Pine Creek. This place was conveniently located close to his favorite place to be — "at his cabin."

He is survived by his wife of La Grande; sons, Mitchell Thompson of Pine Creek, Graham Pinard, of McCall, Idaho, and Andrew Pinard of Pine Creek; daughter, Stacy Miller of Sandy; sister, Andrea Clapper of Eufaula, Okla., mother and stepfather Anna Mae and Roy Miller of Eufaula and many other relatives.

Arrangements are being handled by Loveland Funeral Chapel.


Laura Haefer, 92, of La Grande died Thursday at a local care center. A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday Aug. 28 at the Island City Cemetery.

Laura was born Aug. 3, 1914 the daughter of Ralph B. and Alice (Ayars) Smith on Pumpkin Ridge near Elgin. She attended school in a one-room school house on Pumpkin Ridge before later graduating from Elgin High School.

After high school she married Fritz Ott but the marriage ended in divorce. In January 1953 Laura married August Haefer and the couple remained married until August's death.

Laura worked as a cook in the school district for many years and was a member of the Imbler Christian Church, longtime member of Tops, Kops and also the Eagles Lodge. She was an excellent seamstress, avid reader and loved to crochet and knit.

Survivors include her children and spouses, Connie and Wendell Abell of Island City, Frederick Arthur Ott of Sacramento, Calif., Deanna Boschee of Oceanside, Calif., and Mel and Diantha Ott of Spokane; eight grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; several great-great grandchildren; sister-in-law and spouse, Ethel Smith and "Bus" Hoover; and other relatives and friends. Her parents, husband, brother Arthur Smith and sister Ruth Smith all preceded her in death. Two grandsons also preceded her in death, Terry Lee Abell and Robert Earl Abell.

Those who wish may send flowers or make a contribution in memory of Laura to the Diabetes Association in care of Daniels Chapel of the Valley, 1502 Seventh St., La Grande


Frances M. Neeley, 83, of La Grande died Aug. 23 at Grande Ronde Hospital. A Mass of Christian Burial took place at 9 this morning at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church. A graveside service will begin at noon Monday at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.

Mrs. Neeley was born June 11, 1923, to Frank Kovenz and Anna Schmidt in Billings, Mont. She attended St. Patrick's Grade School and graduated from Commerce High School in 1941.

She lived in northeast Portland until April 2002 when she moved to La Grande to be near her daughter. She was a secretary for Bonneville Power Administration.

She has survived by her son Mark Neeley of Salem and John Kovenz; daughters Besty Neeley of La Grande and Anna Buckmeyer of Portland; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Joseph W. Neeley.

Loveland Funeral Chapel is handling the arrangements.