Obituaries for December 24, 2012

By Observer Upload December 24, 2012 10:30 am
O'Neil, Davis, Gipson, Van Schoonhoven


Maria O’Neil



Maria O’Neil, 88, of Union, died Dec. 21 at Peaceful Haven Care Center.  A full obituary will be published at a later time. Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory will be handling the arrangements.


  James Nelson Davis

La Grande


James Nelson Davis, 70, of La Grande, died Sunday at Grande Ronde Hospital. A full obituary will be published at a later time. Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory will be handling the arrangements.


Zella M. Gipson

La Grande



Zella May (Pierce) Gipson, 89, of La Grande, died in Boise, Idaho. A graveside service is planned.

Zella had three children, Laura, Lana and Melvin. She was married to Reg Gipson, who has one surviving daughter. Zella was the founding member of the Southern Dixie Belles, a popular umbrella dance group that performed throughout the Grande Ronde Valley and in Baker City, Enterprise, Portland and Washington State.

Zella founded the group in 1992 and served as its director and choreographer. Most of the club’s members were then in their 60s and 70s. They entertained at fairs, club meetings, parties, fundraisers, churches, senior centers, nursing homes, retirement centers, schools and reunions.

She was preceded in death by a daughter, Laura Ann Guynes Bruce.

Survivors include her husband, Reg Gipson; children, Lana J. Waite and Melvin G. Guynes; a stepdaughter; and numerous grandchildren.


John Van Schoonhoven




John Morton Van Schoonhoven died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, Dec. 20.  

Services will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28 at Cove Episcopal Church.  

He was born in Cove on Dec. 10, 1928, to Simeon and Bina Burford Van Schoonhoven. Both sides of the family had come to the area in the late 1800s. His education began in the one-room Shanghai School, and was completed with a Doctorate in Education from the University of Oregon. He served as principal at a school in Milton-Freewater and later at the American School in Tokyo, Japan.

While working as an Assistant Professor in Education at Eastern Oregon University, he met and married the love of his life, Louise Young. They moved to Portland where John worked as Director of Professional Standards for the Oregon Education Association. He was hired by the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. as Director of Student Programs. He also focused on changing the voting age to 18, and he traveled to Mississippi to monitor the integration of public schools.

He was later selected to serve as principal of Greenbelt Center Elementary School. The school became a model for providing after school care to at-risk children.  It was also selected by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School, one of the top 200 public schools in the country.

John and Louise retired to Cove, Oregon 20 years ago. They worked diligently to support the community of Cove and John served on numerous boards throughout the county. He helped to create the Cove Community Association which works to better the quality of life for all Cove residents.

He is preceded in death by his beloved daughter, Susan. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Louise and his daughter, Heidi. 


The Observer publishes free obituaries as a community service. Obituaries are edited to fit news guidelines.