Obituaries for July 15, 2013

By Observer Upload July 15, 2013 10:33 am
Austin, Helm, Shoen 

Richard David Austin


A celebration of life for Richard David Austin, Cove, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Cove Sportsman’s Club. A full obituary will follow later.

 Dorothy Helm

La Grande


A memorial gathering for Dorothy Helm will take place at 10 a.m. July 27 at the Presbyterian Friendship Center in La Grande.

Anyone who knew Dorothy is invited to join family and friends for reflections and stories about this unique woman.  

Dorothy, a small-business owner, designer, mother and wife of the lawyer Carl G. Helm (deceased 2003), died in January at the age of 97. With her children and grandchildren sharing her last moments, the family began a celebration of her life and the unique person that she was. After cremation in Portland (where she had lived for five years), her ashes were given to the family to be returned to the Grande Ronde Valley this summer.

Dorothy began life in Buffalo, N.Y., where she was one of seven children and lived in a big extended family with aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and “others” sharing the household. Her early interest in and talent for art earned her a scholarship to Pratt Institute in New York City. Economic concerns lead her interrupt her studies and to accept employment with Walter Lance Studios, a cartoon studio in Los Angeles. After one year, she rejoined her family in Miami, where jobs were available and housing was less costly.  

Her life changed when she met Carl, a Navy captain stationed in Miami temporarily. After a short courtship they married. Soon after the end of WWII, they moved to Oregon, where she would live the next 68 years. She loved the quiet beauty of the land. She was eager to know and understand the Native Americans who had lived on that land for centuries and longer. And she used her imagination and good humor to fill the empty nights with stories and laughter around the fireplace or among a diverse group of friends and family gathered on the porch on a summer’s eve. 

She is survived by her children, Ann of New York City, Gil of Shaniko and Mary of Sausalito, Calif.; three grandchildren; and many other relatives.


Teresa Sue Schoen



Teresa Sue Schoen, “Lil Bit”, 53, of Union, died July 10 at a Boise hospital due to an extended illness. A celebration of life service will be held at Union Baptist Church at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Teresa was born Nov. 12, 1959, in La Grande to Russell and Patricia (McDowell) Freels of Elgin. She attended Elgin Elementary and Elgin High School. Teresa married Mike Vernholm and later was divorced. Ronnie Matthews was her longtime companion before she met and married Terry Schoen.

Teresa worked as a bartender and manager at several establishments, including Stockmans and Baker City VFW. She enjoyed reading, songwriting and poetry, gardening, playing pool and cribbage. Teresa was a member of the Union Baptist Church and the Baker City VFW. She had unbelievable strength in the face of insurmountable odds. Teresa will always be remembered as the world’s greatest mom, aunt and sister, family members said.

She is survived by her husband, Terry, and daughter, Krishna Vaughn; sisters, Helen Moore and her spouse, David, of Union, and Wanda Harvey and her spouse, Wade, of Elgin; brothers, Clay Freels of Elgin, and Tom Freels and his spouse, Susan, of Elgin; four grandchildren; six nieces and nephews; and aunt and uncle, Bonnie and Reed Freels of Mt. Grove, Mo. 

Teresa was preceded in death by her mother, Patricia.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St., La Grande OR 97850 to help the family with funeral expenses.

Online condolences to the family may be made at