Obituaries for Aug. 8, 2012

By Observer Upload August 08, 2012 02:11 pm

James Russell ‘Rusty’ Akers

La Grande



James “Rusty” Russell Akers, 65, of La Grande and Boise, Idaho, died Sunday, Aug. 5 at his son’s residence in La Grande. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the La Grande Stake Center, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Viewing will be held from 9 to 9:45 a.m. at the stake center prior to the service. Interment will follow at the Elgin Cemetery.

Rusty was born on Feb. 3, 1947, to Ivan L. and Wanda (Caulkins) (Akers) Duncombe in Wendell, Idaho. He was raised in Hagerman, Idaho, and graduated from Hagerman High School where he participated in FFA. 

He attended Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, Easter Oregon State College in
La Grande and was a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where he received high honors and awards in the field of culinary arts.

He married Janelle (Kuhn) Marx Aug. 5, 1971, in the Salt Lake City Temple. They later divorced.

Rusty’s employment career included working for Ronde Valley Lumber Company, Culinary Institute of America where he was an assistant instructor after graduation; Sous Chef for the Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City; managing several restaurants in the La Grande area and later opening his own establishment, “Rusty’s Place”, where he enjoyed cooking and catering. He was very talented with the culinary arts including ice carvings, tallow sculptures, cake decorating and presentations.

He and his family lived in Branford, Conn., Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Salt Lake City and La Grande. He spent most of the last 10 years in Boise. His varied interests included researching projects, home improvement, reading, playing chess and other board games, and traveling the United States. A favorite past time was watching and cheering on the Boise State Broncos football team.

He was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in various positions.

 Rusty is survived by his sons, Aaron Akers and his wife Jamie; Nathan Akers and his wife Robin; daughter in law Lisa Akers; two grandsons; four granddaughters, all of La Grande; sisters Hannah (Bill) Vermaas of Salmon, Idaho; Micci (Dave) Aubrey of Soda Springs, Idaho; Anita (Gradus) Heeling of Twin Falls, Idaho; brother Orville (Jan) Akers of Oklahoma, along with several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Wally Akers, and nephew John Vermaas.

Memorial contributions may be made to the LDS Humanitarian Aid Fund, in care of Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St., La Grande OR 97850. Online condolences may be made to the family at 

Velva Blanche Hofmann

La Grande



Velva Blanche Hofmann, 97, of La Grande, died Aug. 5 at the Grande Ronde Hospital after a brief illness. To sign the online guest book visit In lieu of flowers the family requests contributions be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Oregon Chapter, 2701 NW Vaughn St., Suite 203, Portland, OR 97210.

Mrs. Hofmann was born on April 12, 1915, the daughter of Floyd W. and Zelma R. (Ogbourn) Hammack in Lostine. She graduated from Lostine High School and then received her teaching credentials from Eastern Oregon Normal School. In 1937 she married Edward C. Hofmann at the family ranch in Lostine and they soon made their home in La Grande. She taught school for more than 40 years, many spent teaching third grade in Imbler until her retirement. She was a member of the GRH Auxiliary, the Retired Teachers and the Elks Auxiliary. She was an avid reader and enjoyed gardening and keeping her yard beautiful.

Survivors include her daughter, Judy Kahle and her husband Larry of Umatilla; son, Chuck Hofmann and his wife Candy of Baker City; grandchildren Dean Aldrich, Kim Denton, Stacy Hofmann and Doug Hofmann; five great-grandchildren and other relatives. 

She was preceded in death by a daughter, Sandra K. Sims in 1972, her husband, Edward in 1976 and siblings, Lyle, Charles, Albert and Ross Hammack and Edna Glenn.

At her request, there will be no funeral. A gathering in her honor will be held at Riverside Park, in La Grande, beginning at 11 a.m. on Sept. 9.