Obituaries for August 22, 2012

By Observer Upload August 22, 2012 12:32 pm

Juanita Ramey

La Grande and Wallowa Lake


Juanita Ramey, 97, of La Grande and Wallowa Lake, died Tuesday at her home at Wallowa Lake. Arrangements will be announced later by Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center.

Leisa K. Kerr

La Grande



Leisa K Kerr, 49, of La Grande, died Aug. 16 at her home. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 2 p.m. at Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center, 1502 Seventh St. in La Grande.

 Leisa was born on March 3, 1963, the daughter of Bert Leroy and Genie (Casper) Pitt in Eugene. When she was a young child, her father took a job installing overhead wires across the country so they moved to Boston and worked their way west and settled in Pendleton where she graduated from high school. She attended Blue Mountain Community College after graduation. On July 7, 1984, she married Robert Kerr in Pendleton. They later moved to La Grande. She enjoyed crafts and spending time with her grandchildren.

Survivors include her husband, Robert Kerr of La Grande; children, Bert Kerr of Richland, Wash., Dean Kerr of Nampa, Idaho, Howard Kerr of Boise, Idaho and Samantha Walters of La Grande; siblings, Linda Williamson of Umatilla, Nick Kotz of Salem and Deonne Laci of Island City; five grandchildren; and other relatives. She was preceded in death by a sister, Tammy Pitt. 

Edith Lawrence

La Grande



Edith Lawrence, 80, died Aug. 20, of cancer.  Funeral services will be held at the Presbyterian Friendship Center at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 25. Viewing will be Friday, Aug. 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. 

Disposal of remains will be by cremation and burial will be at a private family gathering at the gravesite of her daughter at Hillcrest West cemetery. Loveland Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.

Edith was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on Sept. 24, 1931, to Loran and Margaret (Zurn) Allen. She was the third child and first daughter born into this union. 

Her parents were married in 1927, left Minnesota for their dream of a wheat farm in Canada where they raised lots of wheat and eight children. 

The family returned to the U.S. driving a 1931 Model A Ford truck in 1940 due to the political climate at that time (Canada was conscripting young men for the war in England) and low wheat prices. 

This adventure eventually brought them to the Humbolt gold mine above Huntington where the family was snowed in for the winter. 

Loran caught a ride with the mailman and traded gold nuggets, which he panned from open streams, for groceries and brought them back by sled, while wearing snowshoes. Neighbors assisted with food when possible, but it was an emaciated family of 10 who traveled to Vale when the snow finally melted. Many in the family were like Scarlet in “Gone with the Wind,” vowing never to be hungry again. 

This adventure included a stint of 10 people in a tent living along the Malheur River in Vale where they were afforded the luxury of thermal hot water privileges on the edge of this magnificent river. The availability of food was plentiful. The next stop on this journey was the trek to the high desert of Harney County, the beloved Steens Mountains and Burns, where the family put down roots.

Edith was married to Alfred F. Lawrence Feb. 26, 1949, and to this union three children were born:  Jean Ellen in 1950 (deceased 1997), Laura J. in 1952, and a son, Les Alfred, in 1954. Edith began working at the police department in Burns in 1968.

She graduated from Burns Union High School in 1950.  She also spent a year and a half of study at Eastern Oregon College after she and Alfred moved their family to La Grande where she joined the La Grande Police Department in 1970 and retired in 1993.

Edith held many positions with the department administration even working with Bill Bryd, an investigator. She loved that challenge. In the early 1980s, Edith became the 911 communications manager for the department, coordinating 23 local agencies and was instrumental in setting up the original 911 system in Union County. 

She played a pivotal role in the formation of the whole county with her communication skills and winning ways with people in the struggle of change. Edith felt privileged to be a part of this successful endeavor in this capacity.

Edith is survived by her children Laura McRoberts, of La Grande, and Les Lawrence, of Ketchikan, Alaska, 15 grandchildren and siblings Otis Allen of Memphis Tenn., Bill (Ulaberl) Allen of Burns, Lorna Spain of
La Grande, Tom (Ruby) Allen of Norman, Okla., Dan Allen of Boise, Idaho, Shirley Demackiewicz of Lake Tapps, Wash., and Jim Allen of Boise.

Edith was preceded in death by husband Alfred Lawrence, who died in 1982, daughter Jean Ellen Cassel, who died in 1997, and parents Loran and Margaret Allen.   

Donations in Edith’s memory may be made to the Grande Ronde Symphony, P.O. Box 824, La Grande OR  97850. Online condolences to the family may be made at

Please bring all food donations to the Presbyterian Friendship Center on Saturday morning.  Ramona Campbell is coordinating.  Call her at 541-963-0771 for more information. 

Francis Sasser




Francis “Zelmer” Sasser, 86, of Wallowa, died Aug. 16 after a long battle with multiple myeloma.

At his request, there will be no service.

Zelmer was born on July 31, 1926 to Joseph and Ava Sasser. 

He was raised in Wallowa and graduated from Wallowa High School. In 1944 Zelmer joined the U.S. Navy. He was proud to serve his country during World War II and the Korean War. 

He married Lorraine Johnson on May 22, 1949.

He retired from Boise Cascade in 1989 and spent his retirement enjoying his many grandchildren. Zelmer enjoyed planting his garden each year and sharing the fruits and vegetables of his labor. One of the highlights of Zelmer’s life was having his family from near and far gather during the Chief Joseph Days to celebrate his birthday.

Survivors include his children, Mike of Wallowa, Myrna Neil (Ray) of Pendleton, Marilyn Berry (Jim) of John Day and Marty of
La Grande, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, sisters-in-law, Helen Sasser of Klamath Falls, Ilona Johnson of Eugene, and many nieces and nephews. 

Zelmer was preceded in death by his wife, Lorraine, his parents and siblings. 

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society in care of Bollman Funeral Home.