Obituaries for Sept. 28, 2012

By Observer Upload September 28, 2012 08:33 am

Lela M. Limbaugh

Alder Slope



Lela Mern Limbaugh, 86, died Sept. 25 at Wallowa Valley Care Center in Enterprise. A graveside service will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Alder Slope Cemetery.

Lela was born Dec. 29, 1925, to Pluma Anderson and Percy Haverfield in
LaFleche, Saskatchewan, Canada. She went to high school in Emmett, Idaho, where she met her husband-to-be, Wayne A. Limbaugh. They were married May 30, 1942, and were together until his death in October 1988.

Lela and Wayne spent a few years farming in the Emmett area before living in Promise for a year. They loved that area but to moved to Alder Slope in 1948 to be closer to schools for their growing family. Lela lived in Alder Slope until her final illness.

Lela was a member of the First Baptist Church. She taught Sunday school for many years and served in a variety of capacities until her health forced her to abandon most of her social activities.

She had a great love for sewing and made tailor-quality clothing for her family and friends. In her later years Lela began quilting. Besides giving her quilts to those she knew and loved, she donated many to the Native American Heritage Association.

Lela also loved to garden and was pleased to show visitors both her indoor and outdoor gardens. She seemed to make everything bloom. She loved her life on the mountain and never failed to be thankful for living in such a beautiful place.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Wayne; daughter, Kay; her parents; and two brothers and three sisters.

Survivors include her children and their spouses, Judy and Gary Ball of San Jose, Calif., Gary and Bev Limbaugh of Elgin, Karen and Dave Dening of Stokesdale, N.C., and Verna Limbaugh of Enterprise; and 14 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Native American Heritage Association, 12085, Quaal Rd., Black Hawk, S.D. 57718-9862.

Jess C. Murchison

Formerly of La Grande



Jess Clay “Dick” Murchison, 85, of Lake Oswego and formerly of La Grande, died Aug. 28. He was interred with full military honors Sept. 5 at the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland. A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Lake Oswego United Methodist Church, 855 S. Shore Blvd. Arrangements are under the care of Riverview Cemetery Funeral Home of Portland.

Known as “Dick,” he was born Sept. 13, 1926, to Vera Mae Willet and Charles Oscar Murchison in Portland. At the age of six, he moved to La Grande, where he attended elementary, middle and high school. He had many fond childhood and young adult memories of his life in La Grande and continued many friendships over the years.

In 1943 Dick joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific Rim during World War II. From 1946 to 1957 he served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Europe. When he retired from the service, he lived in Southern California and worked in the aerospace industry. Upon retirement Dick moved back to La Grande and later to Lake Oswego, where he began a second career in private security, retiring in 2006.

Dick married Ann Elizabeth Merner Feb. 14, 1970, in Glendale, Calif. He was a small aircraft pilot and enjoyed fishing and hunting. Dick was a member of the United Methodist Church in Lake Oswego.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Ruth Virginia Murchison Guthrie; and a son, John Wayne Murchison.

Survivors include his wife, Ann of Lake Oswego; sons, Charles Frederick (“Chad”) Murchison, Vernon Clay (“Clay”) Murchison and Franko Gaetano (“Frank”) Murchison; stepson, Jimmie Lee (“Jim”) Starnes; two nieces and one nephew; and five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Oregon Health & Science University, addressed to OHSU Foundation, Mailstop 45, P.O. Box 4000, Portland 97208, with the memo line “Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center - Memory of Jess C. Murchison.”

Thomas P. Wagner

La Grande



Thomas Perry Wagner, 79, of La Grande, died Sept. 15 at a special care home in La Grande. At his request there will be no services.

Known as “Tom,” he was born July 19, 1933, to Perry O. and Ora A. Savage Wagner in Rupert, Idaho. He was raised in Pendleton, where he graduated from high school in 1951. After high school, he worked for the railroad until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1953.

Tom served his country for 20 years in the United States military until he was faithfully and honorably discharged in 1973 with the rank of staff sergeant. During his service, he received several military awards and ribbons. After his retirement from the military, he became a technician for the cable television company in La Grande. In 1993 he retired after 20 years of service.

Tom married Stella Handy in 1959 in Pendleton. She passed away in 2000. Tom enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping and most outdoor activities. His favorite hunting companions were Matt and Terry Haggerty. Tom was a member of the Lion’s Club, Good Sam Club, VFW and American Legion.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Stella; parents, Perry and Ora; a daughter, Debra Haggerty; and siblings, Clarence Wagner and May Cornell.

Survivors include his sweetheart, Kathy Ward of La Grande; children and their spouses, Julie and Tony Larson of La Grande and Richard and Sandra Wagner of Seattle, Wash.; siblings, Walter Wagner of Everett, Wash., and Wanda Wyrick of Pendleton; five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the La Grande Friday Backpack program, in care of Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St., La Grande. Online condolences to the family may be made at

Ellen Putnum

Formerly of La Grande



Ellen Wyatt Putnum, 50, of Portland and formerly of La Grande, died of natural causes Sept. 14 at OHSU in Portland. A memorial service will be held in La Grande at a future date.

Ellen was born Nov. 13, 1961, in La Grande to Dale and Doris Wyatt. She was the youngest of five children. She attended school in La Grande through her early years but graduated from Parkrose High School in Portland in 1979.

She was preceded in death by her parents.

Survivors include her children, Melissa Monk and Tyler Monk, both of Portland; siblings, Millard Wyatt of Murray, Utah, Marilyn Griffin of Rexburg, Idaho, Kathryn McOmber of Farmington, Utah, and Kristine Baum of Alexandria, Va.; and two granddaughters. She was awaiting the birth of her first grandson when she passed.