Obituaries for July 18, 2012

By Observer Upload July 18, 2012 12:18 pm

Reta Mae Younce



Reta Mae Younce died in La Grande Monday, July 16 at age 91. Her funeral service will be Saturday, July 21, 2 p.m., at the Union Methodist Church. Interment will be at the Union Cemetery.

Reta was born March 26, 1921, in Deep Gap, N.C., the second of eight children born to Columbus and Bessie Mae Watson. She grew up in the country, helping with chores on the family farm. The Watson family loved to sing together. Reta had a beautiful alto voice and sang with her sisters at church and on the radio, performing as the Watson Sisters.

She married Dallas W. Younce in December 1939. Dallas owned a small sawmill. Reta cooked for the hired hands, tended a large garden and cared for the farm animals. In 1953 they moved west with their three children to Grant, Mont., where Dallas continued in the sawmill business. The family came to Union in 1958. She and Dallas bought a small farm on the edge of town where together they raised cattle and tended an apple orchard.

Reta’s joy in life was spending time with family and close friends. She also loved working in her flower garden and reading.

She is survived by her daughter Brenda (Younce) Gray and son-in-law Don of Union; sisters Ora Phillips of Fleetwood, N.C.; Mary May of Lansing, N.C.; Arlee Brown of Elkton, Md.; Violet Osborne of Elkton, Marilyn and Evelyn Neaves of Whitesett, N.C.; seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by husband Dallas and sons George and Larry, sisters Catherine Phillips, Louise Church and brother Howard Watson.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Union County Museum, the March of Dimes Foundation, or the charity of your choice, in care of Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St.,
La Grande OR 97850. Online condolences to the family may be made at

Larry Ash




Larry Neil Ash, 58, of Union, died Sunday July 15, in La Grande.

Larry was born in La Grande on Nov. 19, 1953 to William Lewis Ash and Marie Alice Kight. He attended and graduated from Union High School. He then served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to London, England, an accomplishment which was a great source of pride to him. 

On May 19, 1995, Larry married Shirley Jean Passwaters. Larry worked at the Union Shopping Center for 10 years. He loved woodworking and music, DJ-ing dances for years and working most recently in maintenance at the Blue Mountain Livestock Exchange.

Larry is survived by his wife, Shirley of Union, three sisters, Rose and Helen of La Grande and Shirley of Portland, and several nieces and nephews. His parents and a nephew and niece preceded him in death.

A graveside service will be held at the Cove Cemetery at 10:00 on Saturday, July 21. In lieu of flowers or gifts, contributions towards Larry’s funeral expenses are appreciated and can be made to Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St., La Grande OR 97850. Online condolences may be made to the family at

David Gilbert



David E. Gilbert, of Joseph, died on Feb. 27. A celebration of life will be held at 61043 Lakeshore Road (west side of Wallowa Lake – 541-432-7535) starting at 11 a.m. with a sharing service at 4 p.m. Because of limited parking, parking will be available on the grass behind the Indian Lodge Motel in Joseph (South Mill Street between West Second and West Third) or along the street. A bus is scheduled to leave the parking area on the hour beginning at 11 a.m. The last bus will leave Joseph at 4 p.m. and will return as needed until 6 p.m. After 6 p.m, private vehicles will be available. Please help us celebrate the life of a wonderful man who made a difference in the lives of family, a university and around the state. He is greatly missed.

Wanda Kennedy




Wanda Wilma Kennedy, 84, of Wallowa  and formerly of Elgin, died July 10, at the Wallowa Memorial Hospital. A funeral will be held on Thursday, July 19 at 2 p.m. at the Christian Life Center in Elgin.  Committal and interment will follow at the Elgin Cemetery.  Arrangements are entrusted to Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center.

Wanda was born on Oct. 5, 1927, the daughter of John and Martha (Fox) Kennedy at Cricket Flat.  She was raised and educated in Elgin.  She traveled to Tennessee where she attended and preached at many tent revivals for three years. 

Her first husband, Al Milam preceded her in death. 

She later married Everett Bride who also preceded her in death.  She later lived in the Tri-Cities, where she worked for Hanford and Portland, where she was active with the New Beginnings Church and did prison ministry.  She also worked in the Seattle area, honing parts for Boeing.  She later moved to California and just four months ago moved to Wallowa to be near her daughter.  She was a great source of emotional strength for her children and grandchildren and was a big part of their lives. She enjoyed sewing, baking, camping and fishing.  She was known for being the one who always caught the biggest fish.

Survivors include her children, Nelly Rickey of Yuma, Ariz., Kevin Kennedy of San Francisco and Vivian Brandenburg of Wallowa; eight grandchildren; eleven great grandchildren and other relatives and friends.  She was preceded in death by her son, Keith Kennedy.

Those who wish may make contributions in her memory to Neighbor to Neighbor. 

Helen Landers




Helen Louise Landers, 81, of Cove, died Sunday, July15 at a local care facility.  A graveside service will be held on Friday, July 20 at 2 p.m. at the Cove Cemetery.  Arrangements are entrusted to Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center.

Helen was born on May 17, 1931, the daughter of Lester and Ada (Cunningham) Hansen, in Ashton, Idaho.  She was one of fifteen children born to the family.  The family moved to La Grande when she was a child and she was raised by her maternal grandparents.  She graduated from La Grande High School with the class of 1949.  She attended Eastern Oregon University for a year and a half before taking nurses training.  In 1951 she married Earl Landers in La Grande.  They lived in Portland for 25 years and she worked as a bookkeeper.  In 1976 they moved to Enterprise and owned and operated Stockman’s Tavern until retiring to Cove in 1989. They enjoyed traveling in their motorhome and for many years they snow birded in Quartsite, Ariz.  They ran the senior hall for seven years there. She enjoyed hunting, fishing and

Survivors include her husband, Earl Landers of Cove; children, Debra King of Canby and David Landers of Eatonville, Wash.; three grandchildren; one great-granddaughter and other relatives.  Those who wish may make contributions in her memory to the charity of one’s choice. 

James Smith



James Andrew Smith, 66, of Union, died May 27.  As there was no public service the family would like to invite family and friends to sign the on-line guestbook at

Patricia Wilkes-Anthoney



Patricia Ann Wilkes-Anthoney, 67, of Elgin, died at her residence on Sunday, June 17. No services have been planned at this time. Loveland Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.

Pat was born on Nov. 7, 1944 in Longview, Wash. Her parents are Philip Link and Mildred (Zink) Link. She attended school in Coos Bay. In 1998 she married Terry Anthoney. Pat enjoyed sewing and knitting. She also enjoyed fishing.

Pat is survived by her husband Terry; her daughter Trudy L. Potter and husband Rick of Elgin; and two brothers, Larry Link and wife Margaret of The Dalles and Bill Falkner of Lakeside; five grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Norma Wilson

formerly of La Grande


Norma “Juanita” Wilson died on July 9 in Springfield. She had resided at the Memory Care Unit in Springfield for the last three years. 

She was a former resident of La Grande prior to moving to Springfield. While living in La Grande, she worked at the Wrangler Steak House where you might remember her as the salad lady.

She is survived by three daughters, Brenda Neer of La Grande, Shirley Koczan of Creswell, Terry Fry of La Grande, a sister Verla Weber also of La Grande and seven grandchildren, six great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held in La Grande at a later date.

Harvey Oran Bennett

Formerly of La Grande



Harvey Oran Bennett, 77, of Grants Pass, died Wednesday, July 11, at his home. A public memorial service took place today at Concert Bowl Amphitheater on the campus of Rogue Community College in Grants Pass. Private burial was at Eagle Point National Cemetery.

Bennett was born on Nov. 20, 1934, in San Diego, Calif., as the only child of Floyd Harvey Bennett and Genevieve Frances (Donovan) Bennett. He spent his early childhood in San Diego, Boston and Norfolk, Va., while his father served in the U.S. Navy. 

Bennett moved with his parents to his father’s hometown of Cottage Grove in 1949. He graduated from Cottage Grove High School in 1953. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1953 and was on active duty until 1957. Bennett was awarded a bachelor of science, master of education and doctors of philosophy in education and geography from the University of Oregon in 1961, 1965 and 1972, respectively.

Bennett had a long career in teaching and administration for public schools, colleges and universities. From 1961 to 1968 he served the public schools of Cottage Grove as a teacher and administrator. From 1968 to 1984 he was a professor and later a dean at Eastern Oregon University in
La Grande.

Bennett began his tenure at Rogue Community College as a dean in 1984 and was appointed president in 1986. Bennett retired from Rogue in 1999.

He served as interim president of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg from 2002 to 2004. Bennett also held teaching positions at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; the University of Oregon, Western Oregon University and Lane Community College in Eugene.

He was active in numerous civic and professional organizations such as Rotary International, as well as being appointed by the governor to serve on the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Commission.

In retirement, Harvey Bennett was  active in the Rogue Community College Foundation and Rotary. He was always a learner as well as a teacher and had lifelong interests in automobiles, travel and world cultures. Bennett’s pride and joy was his family.

Bennett is survived by his wife, Natasha. He is also survived by his son, Michael Bennett and wife, Sivai, of Portland; son Shawn Bennett and wife Delia of Albuquerque, N.M. daughter Lauri Bennett Ogumoro and husband Jack of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, son Terry Bennett and wife Jennie of Klamath Falls, son David Spronk and wife Michelle of Egan, Minn., son John Spronk and wife Rebecca of Newport News, Va., daughter Josephine Spronk Ortiz and husband Carlos of San Carlos, Calif., sister-in-law Soth Heang and special nieces Molly and husband Joe Nhem and Rina and husband Dat Nguyen, 19 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. 

He was preceded in death by his parents and son, Brian Bennett.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Rogue Community College Foundation, 3345 Redwood Highway Bldg. H, Grants Pass OR 97527.

Arrangements are with Chapel of the Valley-LB Hall Funeral Home, Grants Pass.

Alvin Tippett


Alvin Tippett of Joseph died Saturday. No services will be held at his request. A full obituary will appear later. Bollman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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