Obituaries for Friday, Jan. 24

By Observer staff January 24, 2014 10:37 am


Pat Criss


A celebration of life for Pat Criss will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show Club House in Union. A potluck and dance to follow. For potluck information, call 541-910-7791.

Criss, 59, died Dec. 24.

Orby Ramson

La Grande

Orby Ramson, 76, of La Grande, died Friday at her residence. A full obituary will be published later. Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory will be handling the arrangements.

Joan G. ‘Jo’ Butler

Formerly of La Grande


Joan G. “Jo” Butler, 73, Milton-Freewater, died Jan. 18, at the Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, Wash.  

Memorial services will begin at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, at the Munselle-Rhodes Funeral Home in Milton-Freewater with Pastor Terry Hackney officiating. Private interment will be in the Elgin Cemetery. 

Jo was born Jan. 26, 1940, in La Grande, the daughter of Roy and Berna Dean Knezevich. 

She lived in Elgin. The family then moved to Kennewick, Wash., where she graduated from Kennewick High School. In 1961, she married Kenny Butler in Kennewick. The couple lived in many places in California, Oregon and New Mexico. She and her husband later divorced. 

Jo later married David Holady in Lewiston, Idaho. They had lived in Eastern Oregon and Alaska. They were later divorced.

She returned to Oregon in 1984, living in Cove, La Grande and finally Milton-Freewater in 1997. Jo worked most of her life as a waitress/bartender and helped operate PJ’s Restaurant in Milton-Freewater.

She had worked at the Fountain and had been working recently at Wee Bit of Heather’s in Milton-Freewater.

Jo is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Katrina and Greg Gaines of Cove.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project or Paralyzed American Veterans through the funeral home.

To leave a condolence on-line, visit

Michael ‘Mike’ Thomas Lewis



Michael “Mike” Thomas Lewis, 54, of Elgin, died Jan. 8 of a farming accident. No services are planned at this time.

Mike was born Dec. 21, 1959, in Santa Ana, Calif., to Richard B. and Cecelia T. (Zimmerman) Lewis. He resided in Oregon City, Prineville and Elgin, as well as Elko, Nev. He attended school in St. John and Oregon City High School. 

He met and married the love of his life, Bonnie Lee Block.

Mike was a hardworking farm and family man, from farming in Prineville to working in gold mines in Elko as an electrician. His love for the outdoors extended from hunting and fishing to riding dirt bikes with family, to just a good old bonfire with friends.

Mike is survived by his son, Wyatt Lewis; his wife, Bonnie Lewis; daughter, Sadie Lewis; and mother, Cecelia Lewis. Mike was preceded in death by his father, Richard Lewis. 

Mike will always be loved and remembered, his family said. 

His memory will live on through every member of the Block and Lewis families to every acquaintance, co-worker, longtime friend and all the community, they said.

Online condolences may be made to the family at

Nancy Kaye Mitchell

Formerly of Union


Nancy Kaye Mitchell, 54, of Kennewick Wash., died Jan. 14. 

Her memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Latter-day Saints Chapel, 515 S. Union Court, Kennewick.  

She was born Dec. 26, 1959, and attended Union High School.

There, she received awards for academics, athletics and music and was voted Miss Bobcat her senior year. She held the school record for javelin until just a few years ago.  

Nancy attended college at BYU and BYU Hawaii. She served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in North Dakota.  

Nancy loved and lived life to the fullest, family members said. 

She loved reading, music, good fun, good food, good company and giving graciously and freely. Family was everything to her.  

She is survived by her husband, Dennis; her children, Michael Bali and Jacqueline Bali; and her siblings, Gary Mitchell, Thomas Mitchell, Gina Leverson, Paul Mitchell and Joel Mitchell. 

If anyone would like to share a comment or memory, they can visit her Facebook page at Nancy Mitchell Health Update. 

Nancy will be interred next to her mother, Beverly Mitchell, at Pine Haven Cemetery in Halfway on Sunday. 

The family was served locally by Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home.