Obituaries for December 18, 2013

By Observer Upload December 18, 2013 11:10 am
Roderick, Clarke, Tolles



Lillian Claire Roderick


Lillian Claire Roderick, 88, Union, died Sunday at her home. A full obituary will be published later. Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory will be handling the arrangements.



Zona M. Clarke

Baker City


Zona M. Clarke, 90, of Baker City, died Nov. 30 at Meadowbrook Place. A vigil service will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 27 at Gray’s West and Co., with a memorial service at 11 a.m. Dec. 28 at St. Francis Cathedral.

Zona Marie Parker was born on May 6, 1923, in Baker City. As a child, she spent time with her grandparents, William and Caroline Colton, while her mother, Nell R. Colton, pursued an education degree in Ashland and at Eastern Normal School. Zona attended schools in Haines, North Powder and Baker City. During her high school years, she lived in Wingville near the Elkhorn Mountains.

She graduated from Baker High School in 1941, and entered Sacred Heart School of Nursing in Spokane, Wash. Upon graduation, she joined the U.S. Army Nurses Corps and was stationed at the Army Hospital in Spokane. Then she was transferred to Fitzsimmon in Denver. As part of a chest surgery team she served in Kwan-Ju, Korea at the 1st Station Hospital and later in Boop Young-Kwanj-Do, Korea, at the 382nd Station Hospital as a surgery nurse supervisor.

While in Korea, she met Capt. F.B. Clarke from Benton, Ill., commanding officer of liaison pilots under Gen. Hodge. They married a year later in 1947 and spent their honeymoon in Okinawa, Japan, and Shanghai, China.

Clarke and Zona settled in Wingville, raising their six children, running a wheat ranch. She stayed busy with harvest time, gardens and canning for the family, all the while working nights at St. Elizabeth Hospital. In the fall of 1961, the farm house in Wingville burned to the ground as the family traveled to a church picnic. Together they built a new home. She faced every challenge with a calm grace and determined spirit, family members said.

She became director of nursing at Cedar Manor Nursing Home and St. Elizabeth Hospital. In 1984, she received her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Oregon University. 

Upon her retirement, Zona and F.B. joined the Peace Corps, traveling to Patan and Katmandu, Nepal.

Community service included the Oregon State Ethics Board, EOU Foundation Board and memberships in PEO and AAUW. She served on the Baker City Golf Board, helping to develop the new course, and was instrumental in establishing the nursing program at EOU.

The Chamber of Commerce honored her as Legacy Woman of the Year in 1996.

Survivors include her children, Vicki and Glen Herman, and Patti and Ray Stinnett, all of La Grande; Terri and Kevin Bell, Tabor and Dee Dee Clarke, Nelson and Amy Clarke, Mike and Kim Clarke, all of Baker City; 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; her sister-in-law, Patty Hunter, nephew, John and Betty Ann Clarke, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, F.B. Clarke, mother Nell Grant, stepfather, Nelson Sieg, and sister, Jayne Christjansen.

Memorials can be made to the charity of choice through Gray’s West and Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.



Mary Lee Tolles



 Mary Lee Tolles, 87, of Summerville, died Dec. 1 at her home with family by her side. Viewing will be at Loveland Funeral Chapel at 5:30 p.m. with Rosary at 7 p.m. Wednesday. 

Mass services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in La Grande. Graveside services will be at Hillcrest East Cemetery following the service.

Mary was born in La Grande on July 24, 1926, to Albert T. and Kathryn B. (Mutchler) Meranda.

She went to school in La Grande, Walla Walla, Wash., and Port Orchard, Wash., where she met her husband, William F. Tolles. She was one of the many young women hired to clean the battleships, as they arrived stateside after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her future husband was recuperating on the USS Nevada. They were married Oct. 31, 1942. 

Mary was from the Greatest Generation and faced challenges with the Great Depression and with World War II, with kids in tow following her beloved husband, Bill, during his tenure in the Navy and Army. They were married 65 years.

They raised their three children, living mostly in La Grande and Hermiston. Mary later worked for the Pendleton Community Hospital as the bookkeeper and payroll clerk until her retirement in 1972.

She loved living in their cabin out at Palmer Junction along Lookingglass Creek. Mary’s cabin was a sanctuary for all of her grandkids. She enjoyed fishing, camping, huckleberry and mushroom picking, reading, crocheting and making blankets. 

She was an accomplished writer and loved to write poems and songs for the grandkids. She was an excellent cook, family members said.

Mary was devoted to her church and to public service as a member of the Grande Ronde Hospital Auxiliary for almost 30 years. She was a member of Eastern Star and a past member of the Elks Emblem Club.

Mary is survived by daughters, Mary K. Gray (husband Jim) from La Grande; Donna J. Hartley (husband Scott) from Summerville; sister, Patricia Ecklund from Port Orchard; five grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sister, Nicky Dehart; husband, William; son, William Albert; grandsons, Mark and P.J.; great-grandson, Trevor; and two infant grandsons.

She never stopped being a wonderful mother and an awesome grandmother to all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, family members said.

Memorial donations can be made to the Marian Academy (Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church), Shriners Hospital or Grande Ronde Hospital in care of Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St., La Grande, OR 97850.

Online condolences to the family may be made at