Obituaries for November 18, 2013

By Observer Upload November 18, 2013 10:00 am
Walker, Derr, Morris, Koutnik



Milo ‘Gene’ Walker

La Grande


Milo “Gene” Walker, 82, of La Grande, died Sunday at a local care facility. A full obituary will be published later. Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory will be handling the arrangements.



Norma L. Derr




Norma L. Derr, 93, of Elgin, died Nov. 14 at Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Summerville Cemetery Chapel with vault interment to follow. A visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Daniels-Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center, 1502 Seventh St. in La Grande.

Norma was born Aug. 29, 1920, in Carlton to Emil and Vida (Livermore) Wischnofske. She received her schooling in a one-room school house at Blodgett.

Norma met and married Joe A. Bukowiec in 1938. They had three children: Joseph, Carol and Neil “Corky.”

Mr. Bukowiec died in 1955. After his death, she moved to the John Day area, where she met and married Albert M. Derr. They had two children: Albert and Patty. Mr. Derr died in 1990.

Norma moved to Elgin in 1970. A short time later, she began working at the Boise Cascade Plywood Plant. She retired in 1982. She enjoyed gardening, raising flowers, canning and watching her favorite TV programs, “The Price is Right” and “Wheel of Fortune.” She would always call her family on Sundays, just to make sure that they were all right.

Norma is survived by her children, Joe Bukowiec (Francie) of Savannah, Ga., Carol Gutridge of Baker City, Albert Derr of Pasco, Wash., and Patty Fine of Elgin. She has 14 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Other survivors include sister, June Nauta, brothers; Larry and Jerry Wischnofske, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

She was preceded in death by her parents, five sisters, five brothers, a son, Corky, and a grandson, Travis.



Florence ‘Flo’ Eileen Groth Morris

La Grande



Florence (Flo) Morris, 74, of La Grande died unexpectedly, yet peacefully at St. Vincent Hospital in Beaverton on Nov. 10.  

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Somerset Christian Church, 16260 N.W. Bronson Road, Beaverton, with Pastor Weldon Plett officiating.  

Flo was born on Jan. 30, 1939, in Wapato, Wash., to Alec and Freda Groth. She grew up and worked on a family ranch, until she married her high school sweetheart, Charles William (Bill) Morris on Dec. 7, 1957. Both Florence and Bill graduated from Wapato High School. 

Florence made her first career with Pacific Northwest Bell (later called US West) and graciously gave them 30 years of her life. After retiring from PNB, she went to work for Beaverton schools, where she found her true love in work at Oak Hills Elementary School. She worked there until she lost her husband in 2010 and moved to La Grande to be close to her family in 2012. 

Florence’s life was her children, grandchildren and most recently, the apple of her eye, her great-granddaughter. 

Everything she did was for her kids. She also loved to read, golf, and play penny slot machines.

Florence is survived by her son, Mark Morris and his wife, Karin, of Tillamook; son, Robert (Bob) Morris and his wife, Melody, of Puyallup, Wash.; daughter, Dena Tams and her husband, Terry, of La Grande; five grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; her brother, Don Groth; and several nieces and nephews.  

She was preceded in death by her husband, her mother and father, and a brother and sister.  

Online condolences may be shared with the family at



Rodrick John Koutnik

La Grande



Rodrick John Koutnik, 94, of La Grande and formerly of Vista, Calif., died Nov. 12 at his home. Arrangements are entrusted to Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center.

Born Nov. 3, 1919, and raised in Los Angeles, Rod joined the aircraft industry in the early build-up to World War II. He became the lead tool maker on the P-61 “Blackwidow,” America’s first radar-equipped interceptor. 

When that project was completed, he served as an Army combat rifleman in the European theater. He was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in a Ruhr Pocket firefight. 

After the war, he designed components for early rocket development at Cal Tech, La Canada, Calif., most notably the Corporal missile guidance system. For the next three decades, his valve designs were the leading edge of defense and commercial industries. His liquid oxygen valves powered America’s Space Shuttles into orbit.

He retired to Mesa, Ariz., and later came to live with his family in La Grande. He had 50-year awards in both the Masonic Lodge and the Order of the Eastern Star. 

His wife, Mildred Dobes Koutnik, died earlier. Survivors include Camille Gridley, Connie and Jim Voelz and a grandson.