Obituaries for the day of January 10, 2012

By Observer Upload January 10, 2012 11:28 pm
Draper, Robinson





Jan. 11 — LeVern Dick Draper, graveside service, 2 p.m., Union Cemetery

Jan. 14 — Dewy Kleng, celebration of life, 1 p.m., Daniels-Knopp


LeVern Dick Draper



LeVern Dick Draper, 96, of Union, died Jan. 7 at Grande Ronde Hospital. A graveside service will begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Union Cemetery. Viewing will run from 4 to 6 today at Daniels-Knopp.

He was born on his grandfather’s ranch in High Valley, about seven miles east of Union, to Dick and Beulah Bunnerll-Bennett Draper on March 17, 1915. When he was a small child, the family moved to Union.

His father worked for Tony Ketchrict, and they lived out of Union about three miles, in a house that was owned by the Ketchrict family. He walked to the grade school in south Union and also to the high school. At graduation, his family says he was was the smallest boy in his class, but he soon reached his full height — 6 feet, 3 inches.

He worked for the Bert Shelton logging outfit, getting the Caterpillars ready. He told the story of the morning he sensed someone was watching him. He looked up in the trees above him, and saw a cougar watching him. He also worked for J.B. Weaver, who had prune and cherry orchards. He also helped his father cut cord wood sometimes.

In 1937, he took a job in the winter for the Union Pacific Railroad sweeping switches to keep the snow out, but the south wind was so hard it was almost impossible to keep them clean, he had said. Still, the work established his seniority date on the railroad and when the second World War started, he was called back into service with them.

He started out on pool freight, but worked his way up to conductor on passenger trains, working out of Portland until the railroad took the passenger trains off. He then moved back to Union and went back to the pool freight. He retired with 40 years of service with the railroad.

When he was about 9, an old airplane landed near Union and the pilot said that if he filled in the irrigation ditches, the pilot would take him for a ride. He went up in the plane without asking, which made his mother angry. She wanted his father to punish LeVern, but his father didn’t because he said he had worked for his ride. That ride gave him the “flying bug,” and he eventually became a pilot and an instructor, working out of the La Grande and Baker airports.

Eldon Downs taught him to fly, and he flew solo in four hours. He was in business with one airplane, with Rus Kilpatrick. Later he went into business with Mike Trindle, flying passengers into and out of Red’s Horse Ranch. He flew for the Forest Service during fire season and flew fire retardant in a B-25 tanker.

He was a member of the Elks Lodge No. 338 in Baker.

LeVern was married four times. His spouses preceded him in death along with two brothers, Clifford L. and A.L. “Bud” Draper; and his parents.

He is survived by one daughter, Darla Gregory of McMinnville; sister, Vivian Larsen of Pendleton; grandchildren; nieces and nephews; and close friend and companion, Randy Mills of Union.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Meadowood Speech Camp in care of Daniels-Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center, 1502 Seventh St. in La Grande or through the Elks Lodge in Baker.


Bobbye L. Robinson


Bobbye L. Robinson, 67, of Union, died Jan. 9 at Grande Ronde Hospital. A full obituary will be published later. Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory is in charge of the arrangements.


The Observer publishes free obituaries as a community service. Obituaries are edited to fit news guidelines. Photos are encouraged. Paid space is available for families who would like to include more information. Daniels-Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center posts unedited obituaries at, and Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory posts obituaries at