Obituaries for December 28, 2012

By Observer Upload December 28, 2012 09:46 am
Skeen, Barry


Flora Marie Skeen

La Grande


Flora Marie Skeen, 89, of La Grande, died Dec. 26 at her residence. A complete obituary will be published at a later time. Arrangements are under the direction of Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory.


John ‘Jack’ Barry

La Grande



John “Jack” Barry, 87, of La Grande, died suddenly at home Dec. 25. A celebration of Jack’s life will be held in mid-June when the wildflowers are in bloom on Morgan Lake Road.

Known as Jack, he was born March 5, 1925, to Gertrude French and Walter J. Barry in Boston, Mass.

During World War II Jack served in General Patton’s 3rd Army, fighting through France, Germany and Austria until the war’s end. After graduating from Middlebury College in Vermont, with the remainder of his GI Bill he enrolled at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, where he studied math but “majored in skiing.” Jack was a life-long adventure traveler. During one spring break he and two friends rode their three-speed bikes from Innsbruck to Cairo, Egypt, where he climbed the Cheops Pyramid.

Reluctant to leave Europe, Jack worked in Heidelberg, Germany, for the U.S. Army Education program, where he met Lois Andrews of Seattle, Wash. They married in Heidelberg in 1953. After their return to the U.S., Jack worked on jet engine noise suppression at Boeing in Seattle, experimental engine programs for Beech Aircraft in Boulder, Colo., the earliest satellite communication systems for telecomputing in Alamogordo, N.M., and Philco in Palo Alto, Calif., and nuclear reactor testing for Phillips outside of Idaho Falls, Idaho, where Jack and a small group of fellow physicists formed the Hells Canyon Preservation Council in 1956 to prevent construction of further dams on the Snake River.

In 1967 Jack and Lois, armed with teaching certificates, began their search throughout the Pacific Northwest for a perfect spot to raise their children. They purchased 150 acres on Morgan Lake Road, and the family immediately acquired two horses, a pony, three pigs, two steers and a hundred chickens. Soon Jack was active in successful efforts to prevent old-growth logging on the Minam and a proposed dam on Catherine Creek. Eventually Jack purchased and preserved 1,000 forested acres in Oregon.

After teaching science and math in local schools, in 1972 Jack and Lois packed up the family for two years of teaching at the American School in Tehran, Iran. He drove the family’s VW bus 5,000 miles in the Middle East, where they camped out in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Pakistan, then drove and camped from Tehran to Copenhagen and back to Amsterdam for their return to the U.S.

While they were in Iran, a forest fire destroyed the family home. When the family returned to La Grande, Jack and his sons built a new house on Morgan Lake Road. His mantras, depending on the situation, were “Everything is transcendental” and “Attitude is everything.”

Jack and Lois enjoyed camping all over the western United States and Canada and traveling to Nepal, Bali, Egypt, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia. They made frequent trips to see friends in Europe and visited Newfoundland, where Jack’s mother’s home place at French’s Cove is now a national historic site.

A committed environmentalist and unapologetic Democrat, Jack was a man of strong and consistent opinions. He especially liked “old stuff,” especially books, and was ever curious and alive to the world. He never met a dog he didn’t like, 22 of which adopted him over his lifetime. He had a special relationship with his grandson, Kai.

Survivors include his wife, Lois; children, Kimberley Barry of Ashland, Brian Barry of Bend and Peter Barry of Joseph; and one grandchild.


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