Obituaries for October 9, 2013

By Observer Upload October 09, 2013 02:13 pm
Friend, Umpleby, Fischer, Keller, Meyers, Palmer, 

Richard and David Friend

Celebration of life services for Richard and David Friend will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Damascus Road Church, 905 C Ave., La Grande.

 Edna Bernice (Rishell) Umpleby

Baker City

A memorial service for Edna Bernice (Rishell) Umpleby, 102, will begin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Calvary Baptist Church in Cove.

 Ricky James Fischer



Ricky James Fischer of Enterprise, 52, died on Oct. 6. 

A graveside celebration of life will be held at the Enterprise Cemetery at 1 p.m. Thursday, following with fellowship at the Enterprise Community Church.

Rick was born in Mountain Home, Idaho, on Feb. 19, 1961, to Melvin and Edith Fischer, joining brother Terry. Later came brother Jim. Rick graduated from La Grande High School in 1979. Rick spent most of his youth in La Grande, where he excelled in athletics. He especially loved baseball and playing third base.  

Rick fell in love with his sweetheart, Lorri Birkmaier, and later married at the Enterprise Community Church in Enterprise on June 12, 1982. Since that time, they
have made their home in Enterprise.

Rick was a man of all trades. He especially loved working with cattle, and calving season was a favorite time of year for him. He also enjoyed coaching, umping baseball, fishing and

He is survived by his greatest accomplishment of all, his daughters, Lynna Marie Butler and Alyse Anne Shetler. He will live on in the hearts of his three grandchildren, and the love of his life, Lorri Fischer.  

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Wallowa Valley Little League.

 Gary Lee Keller

La Grande


Gary Lee Keller, 75, lifelong resident of La Grande, died at his home on Sept. 10. A celebration of his life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Loveland Funeral Chapel.

Gary was born Nov. 7, 1937, in La Grande to Otto Conrad and Nette (Gruis) Keller, was raised in La Grande and attended schools here. Gary was married to Ellen Arlene Herron. She died Sept. 24, 2005.

Gary was employed by Walt Sweet with Valley Sausage. He retired from Boise. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and spending time at his cabin on Mount Emily. He also enjoyed riding four-wheelers and horses.

Gary is survived by three children, Christy (Mike) Morrison of Irrigon, and John and Eric Keller, both of La Grande; brother, Dennis (LaDella) Woods of
La Grande; six grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and one nephew. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ellen; parents, Otto and Nette; and sister, Marilyn Keller.

Memorial contributions may be made to Valley Fellowship Church in care of Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St., La Grande OR 97850.

Online condolences may be made to the family at

 Clarence ‘Allen’ Myers



Clarence “Allen” Myers, 69, of Union, died Oct. 3 at his home in Union. A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Union Cemetery.

Allen was born on Feb. 29, 1944, the son of Clarence and Naomi (Nunn) Myers, in Hermiston. He graduated from Hermiston High School and then served with the United States Navy from 1962 until 1964. He lived in North Carolina for a time before returning to Oregon. 

On July 1, 1988, he married Mary Friend in Cove. 

He worked as a farm laborer, most recently in the Hermiston/Irrigon area. He loved fishing, mushroom picking, wood cutting, yard work and watching scary movies.

Survivors include his mother, Naomi Myers of
La Grande; wife, Mary Myers of Union; children, Scott Myers of Portland, Todd Myers of Renton, Wash., Chris Sloan of Federal Way, Wash., Nicole Worden of Heppner and Desiree Friend of
La Grande; brothers, Charles “Butch” Myers of Union and Steven Myers of Stanfield; nine grandchildren; and other relatives.

Arrangements are with Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center.


Dr. Eugene A. Palmer

La Grande


Dr. Eugene A. Palmer, 90, of La Grande, died at Grande Ronde Hospital Sept. 10. A celebration of life service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Presbyterian Friendship Center in La Grande. Interment will be at the Grandview Cemetery. 

Dr. Palmer was born Oct. 5, 1922, at La Grande, the son of Otis Wilmarth and Laurine (Miller) Palmer. He graduated in 1940 from La Grande High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, served as class vice president and lettered in basketball and baseball. He graduated with a junior college certificate in pre-dental in 1942 from Eastern Oregon Normal (now Eastern Oregon University). While at Eastern, he played basketball for Coach Robert Quinn, and proudly wore his letterman’s jacket as an alumnus at many college homecoming events.

He then went on to earn his doctorate of medical dentistry from North Pacific Dental College in Portland in 1944. While in college, he was a member of the college basketball team, and played semi-pro basketball in Portland. Also while attending college, Dr. Palmer joined the U.S. Navy Dental Corp. as lieutenant junior grade at Pier 91. 

Following graduation, he served aboard a troop ship, the U.S.S. Rockwall 230, as ship’s dentist. The U.S.S. Rockwall was an evacuation ship retrieving wounded personnel. In 1946, he was at the Bikini Atoll, taking part in two atomic bomb tests. He was also appointed as a temporary lawyer aboard ship to defend Navy personnel. He received an honorable discharge in 1947 at Bremerton, Wash. While in the service, he wrote letters to his parents in La Grande, and several were printed in the La Grande Observer. He was serving on a transport ship assigned to remove men from the atom bomb test ships, and they were the last ships to leave the lagoon at Bikini Islands.

In 1945, he married Jane Williams at San Francisco. The couple moved to Bellevue, Wash., where Dr. Palmer operated a successful dental practice for the next 30 years. The couple had three children, Jeff, Roger and Charlanne. During those years, Dr. Palmer purchased and operated a Black Angus cattle ranch in the Summerville area. He later sold that ranch and purchased another one in Ellensburg, Wash.

Dr. Palmer returned to his hometown of La Grande to open another successful dental practice. He later married Bernidine Hungerford Millering. She died in 1994. On Dec. 16, 1995, he married Geraldine”Gerry” Braseth. He retired in 1990.

Dr. Palmer loved his hometown of La Grande and spent much of his lifetime volunteering and giving back to his community. Most notable is his work to his beloved Boy Scouts of America. He earned his Eagle Scout badge in 1939, and was honored as the oldest Eagle Scout in Union County in 2010. He continued to work through the years with Boy Scout Troop 514 of La Grande Presbyterian Church. In 1998, he was appointed to the Eagle Scout Board of Review for Eastern Oregon. He remained active in scouting until his death.

He was a member of the Elks Lodge No. 433, and member and president of
La Grande Rotary. Dr. Palmer and Bernie were named Rotarian Husband and Wife of the Year in 1985 and 1986. He twice received the prestigious Paul Harris Award.

Dr. Palmer was a member of the Washington State Dental Association Executive Council, president of the Seattle King County Dental Society, treasurer of the Union County Shrine East/West football game, board of directors of Union County Chamber of Commerce and served as chairman of the Community Stadium construction project in 1984. He was a member of the La Grande Country Club, American Legion, Masonic Lodge No. 41, Eastern Oregon Commandery No. 6 Knights Templer and a member of the First Presbyterian Church.

The Palmers have a summer home at Wallowa Lake, where they spent most of their summers. He started playing golf after he retired, and spent several hours each day practicing his putting at the La Grande Country Club. He was known as “Gene, Gene, the Puttin’ Machine.”

He is survived by his wife, Gerry; sons, Roger and Beth Palmer of Yakima, Wash., and Jeff Palmer of Seattle; daughter, Charlanne Brakebill of Medina, Wash.; four grandchildren; stepchildren, Cindy Troutman of Hillsboro, Craig and Kay Braseth of La Grande, Claudia and Barry Womack of Eugene, and Cory and Lois Braseth of La Grande. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, LaRena Palmer Hallmark Sorenson of La Grande.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Neighbor to Neighbor Ministries or First Presbyterian Church Youth Scholarship Fund in care of Loveland.

Online condolences to the family may be made at

The Celebration of Life service may be viewed live online at The memorial ID number is 4158. For information, call Loveland at 541-963-5022.