Obituaries for August 2, 2013

By Observer Upload August 02, 2013 10:35 am
Thiel, Williamson

Eugene F. Thiel


Services for Eugene F. Thiel, 77, of Joseph, who died Tuesday, will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, at St. Katherine Catholic Church in Enterprise. Rosary will be at 7 p.m. Monday at the church. A full obituary will appear later. Bollman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

 Robert Keith ‘Bob’ Williamson

Formerly of Union and La Grande


Robert Keith “Bob” Williamson, 88, died July 9 at Parkwood Healthcare Community in Bedford, Texas.

Services were held July 22 at the LDS Church in Colleyville, Texas, with burial at the National Cemetery in Dallas.

Bob was born March 28, 1925, in Los Angeles to Eathel Berniece Haynes and Edward H. Williamson, who were later divorced, and he considered his stepfather, Francis Lee Coulter, to be his dad. He spent many summers in Union with his grandparents, Ulysses and Sarah Haynes.

After completing eighth grade, he began working at a ranch in Fruitdale and at various jobs to support himself.

Bob joined the Navy in 1943 at the age of 18, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He was assigned to a torpedo squadron and as an aviation radio gunner. These men manned the rear cockpits of carrier dive bombers and torpedo planes, handling the radio gear and .30-caliber machine guns. 

He received the Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal, the American Area Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. 

He was honorably discharged on April 14, 1946, as an Aviation Radioman 3rd Class.

He later completed his GED in La Grande after returning from the service. 

Bob married Donna Lu Bingham on July 3, 1947, in the garden on Catherine Creek at the home of Ray and Frankie Baum.

In 1953, Bob became a member of the LDS Church. He and Donna later served as Church Service Missionaries for the Texas Facilities Management Office. Bob also served as temple ordinance worker in the Dallas Temple from 1990 to 1994.

In 1955, he began a four-year career with the Oregon National Guard, being discharged in 1959 with the rank of sergeant.

Shortly after Bob’s return to Union, the Playland Skating Rink (now the Union County Museum) opened. Bob became a skater, and he was the floor manager for the rink. 

He loved skating, and people were impressed with his abilities to couples dance and do various routines.

He worked in many occupations, and was never afraid to try new ones. They included working on Interstate 84 during its construction, in a body and fender shop or whatever job was available to support his family in the
La Grande and Union

In 1960, he worked in Idaho at the Titan One Missile Silos, and then went to Arkansas with the company to work on the Titan Two Missile Silos.

He then started working as a repairman for a mobile home manufacturer and was sent to various places including a move to Hurst, Texas. One highlight was being sent to Saudi Arabia in 1978 to install mobile homes for an Arabian sheik.

Bob spent his later years working for the physical facilities of the LDS Church and then as a security guard until his retirement well into his 80s in the Hurst area.

Bob was an outdoor enthusiast, particularly loved Northeast Oregon and returned here whenever possible. In 2011, he was privileged to return to the Eagle Cap Wilderness for what he voiced was his last trip.

Survivors include his wife of 66 years; daughter, Lee Ann (David) Buell; sons, Robert (Linda) Williamson and Ronald (Deborah) Williamson; daughters-in-law, Becky (Don) Waddle, and Dianne Williamson; sister-in-law, LaVon Bingham Hall; 27 grandchildren; 70 great-grandchildren; as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by sons, Michael Ray Williamson and Von B. Williamson; grandchildren, JoAnna Buell and Bobby Williamson; great-grandchildren, Claire Fisher and Arianna Gilbert; special in-laws, Von and Lucille Bingham; and sister-in-law, Anna Bingham Schwabel Blacker.

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