Obituaries for the day of April 4, 2012

By Observer Upload April 04, 2012 01:27 pm
Grage, Johnston, Shelley, Siler



Florence T. Grage

La Grande



Florence T. Grage, 99, of La Grande, died Jan. 30 in La Grande. Her family will gather at Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainier, Wash., for a remembrance of her life in June. Loveland Funeral Chapel was in charge of her cremation arrangements.

Florence was born in Preston, Wash., on May 2, 1912, to Oscar Martin Thorne (originally Thorsen) and Ida Josephine Olson. Her father died of tuberculosis when she was 9. She grew up in Kirkland, Wash., and graduated from Rose Hill High School. Florence fondly recalled summer trips to Gig Harbor, Wash., to visit relatives, an all-day trip involving numerous ferries and horse and buggy rides.

In 1935, she married Hans Werner Grage, a noted ski pioneer and mountaineer who took the family to the mountains nearly every weekend. They lived on Mercer Island near Seattle for many years. In 1956 her husband died in an accident while removing snow from a cabin on Stevens Pass.

Florence was employed with the Boeing Corporation for many years as an administrative assistant until she retired in 1977. A few times she participated in free delivery flights of new airplanes, such as a new Boeing 727 to Athens, Greece, in 1976.

Florence enjoyed visiting her daughter Christine’s family as they traveled with the Navy, making trips to Athens, Ga., Long Island, N.Y., Catania, Sicily, and Long Beach, Napa and San Diego, Calif.

Florence participated in an Alzheimer’s study at the University of Washington from 1991 to 1993. In later years, she suffered from the disease herself.

In 1999, Florence moved to Elgin to be near her son. In 2001 she moved to an assisted living home in La Grande and later to a nursing home as her condition progressed.

Florence is survived by her daughter, Jody Grage of Seattle, Wash.; daughter and son-in-law, Nan and Bob Sandvik of Federal Way, Wash.; son-in-law, Gary Shirley of Tarpon Springs, Fla.; son and daughter-in-law, Hans Grage and Ruth Betza of Elgin; nine grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her spouse, Hans Werner Grage; daughter, Christine Eleanor Grage Shirley; and sisters, Frances DeGoojer and Faye Paulson.


Jerry Ann (Graham) Johnston

Formerly of La Grande



Jerry Ann (Graham) Johnston, 74, of Milton-Freewater, died Nov. 28 at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, Wash., following a variety of illnesses aggravated by nicotine addiction since her teenage years. Private inurnment will be held at Hillcrest Cemetery at her mother’s grave in La Grande.

She was born Jan. 27, 1937, in La Grande to Fred M. and Jeanne (May) Graham. Jeanne was the daughter of Union County pioneer families; the Woods and May families came to the Grand Ronde Valley just after 1860. Her family members were farmers and worked on the railroad. Jerry’s grandfather, Arthur S. “Pat” May, was the conductor on the Portland Rose. 

Jerry grew up in La Grande but attended high school in Milton-Freewater where she has lived most recently since 1982.

She spent most of her adult life in California. She married her first husband, Henry Knight Farrell, in 1952, in Tijuana, Mexico, while he was in the Navy. They had four children: Jennifer Jo Farrell, Jerita Jeanne Farrell, Cody Lee Farrell and Webster Wyatt Farrell. They divorced in 1959.

Jerry married Cecil Carl “Johnny” Johnston in Reno, Nev. Their son is Jon Quinten Johnston. Johnny died in 1984 in Walla Walla. Jerry and Johnny owned Crossroad Jewelers in Guerneville, near Santa Rosa, Calif.

She was married briefly to David Flathers, but the love of her life was Zane Loos. She had known him as a young girl. They spent many happy years together until his death.

Jerry was an expert banquet server for many years. She also worked as a secretary/bookkeeper for Petroleum Maintenance Co. of Petaluma, Calif.; and in fashion sales for G.E.T. in Sacramento, Calif. She delivered the East Oregonian and the Sunday Oregonian newspapers in later years throughout the Walla Walla Valley. She raised Dobermans and was probably best known in Umatilla County for her 110-pound cougar, Saka, which she acquired while living in California, as a three-week-old cub, a third-generation domesticated cat. 

As a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Jerry served in numerous positions including Worthy Matron and White Queen Esther of the Riverview Chapter No. 336 in Riverview, Calif. She also served as Noble Grand in the Woodwardia Rebekah Lodge No. 212 and advisor to the Job’s Daughters and Rainbow Girls organizations. She was a den mother while her boys were in Scouting. She was a runner-up in the “Women of Industry Pageant” in Santa Rosa, Calif.

As a child, she became an animal lover and began bringing home strays. Her family says she also couldn’t resist caring for people in need. They say her home always included more than her three boys, as she provided food and shelter for many of their friends.

Jerry collected dolls and dressed hundreds of them for her enjoyment. She took care of her mother, husband, Aunt Ann May and grandchildren over the years. She had an interest in genealogy and as long as she was able, she was responsible for decorating the family graves — over 30 in the Grand Ronde Valley alone and others in Milton-Freewater and Weston.

She enjoyed hunting, fishing, horseback riding and Harley Davidson motorcycles. She had a green thumb and her houseplants and plants in the yard flourished, her family said.

Jerry was preceded in death by her two infant daughters, her parents, three brothers, two sisters and her husband. She is survived by her three sons, Cody L. Farrell, Webster W. Farrell and Jon Q. Johnston; five grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren; her two sisters, Joyce Givens of Redmond and Marcellene Hueter of Connell, Wash.; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.


VonCeile ‘Vonnie’ Shelley

La Grande



VonCeile “Vonnie” Bruce Shelley, 89, formerly of La Grande, died March 29 at her home. Funeral services were held April 3 at the Berg Drawing Room Chapel, 185 East Center Street, Provo, Utah. Burial will be at East Lawn Memorial Hills in Provo. Condolences to the family may be posted at

She was born Dec. 12, 1922, in La Grande to Saxon Berners Bruce and Pearl Rosenbaum Bruce. She attended schools and graduated from high school in La Grande. She then moved to Provo, Utah, to attend school at BYU where she met and married Donald “M” Shelley. They married
Jan. 30, 1948, in the Manti Temple.

Vonnie was a dancer and traveled much of Oregon performing in her youth.

She was an active member of the LDS church where she served in many callings, including Primary President, Primary Secretary and Ward Librarian. She and her husband owned and operated Don Shelley Chevron for nine years. They also owned and operated Don Shelley Towing from 1971-2002. 

She was a loyal BYU and Utah Jazz fan.

Vonnie is survived by her five children, Gary M. (Marie) Shelley, Kenneth L. (Lucille) Shelley, Cheryl (Randy) Halliday, Don D. Shelley and Janeen (George) Randall; 17 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband; parents; two brothers, Jim Bruce and Morris Bruce; and her sister, Evelyn Bruce Blaser.


Stanley Siler

Formerly of La Grande



Stanley Siler, 59, of Salem and formerly of La Grande, died March 30 of cancer.

A service will begin at 11 a.m. April 14 at New Song Community Church. 

He was born Feb. 13, 1953, to Jim and Violet Siler at Halfway. He was raised in La Grande and graduated from La Grande High School in 1972. 

He worked for Gateway Auto then worked for the state highway striping crew. He then moved to Portland and worked at Dillingham Ship Repair until an injury left him unable to work. He later moved to Salem and took care of his parents. 

He loved spending time with his family. He enjoyed his car, shining it everyday. His family says his car was his pride and joy.

He loved working out and did it everyday.

Survivors include siblings, Connie Bluhm of Hermiston, Richard Siler of Battleground, Wash., and Carla McCall of La Grande; six nieces; and two nephews. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, James Robert Siler.


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. Both Daniels-Knopp and Loveland Funeral Chapel post unedited obituaries on their websites. The sites are and, respectively.