Obituaries for February 7, 2014

By Observer Upload February 07, 2014 11:02 am
Hammack, Free, Hamblin



Vernon ‘Dick’ Hammack



A celebration of life for Vernon “Dick” Hammack will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Community Connection in Enterprise.

An obituary will follow later. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the Enterprise FFA Alumni Association.





Elfrida Marie Free

North Powder



Elfrida Marie Free, 82, of North Powder died Jan. 29 at her residence with her family by her side. She was a breast cancer survivor, had knee replacement surgery and suffered from dementia.  

A graveside service for Elfrida was held on Feb. 3. 

Elfrida was born on May 11, 1931, in Barlow, N.D., to Albert Moline, an emigrant from Sweden who died when she was 12, and Rose (Herringer) Moline. Elfrida attended grade school and middle school in Brantford, N.D., and graduated from high school in New Rockford, N.D. 

She attended Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, for one year studying elementary education. There she met Delmar Ed Free, who was to become her husband of nearly 63 years. They were married on Aug. 26, 1951. 

Elfrida served alongside Delmar as a lay pastor’s wife. They served several years in Seneca, North Powder and Union Nazarene churches. She continued her involvement in church ministries in the Union Nazarene Church for more than 35 years in various areas such as Sunday School teacher, missionary president, church treasurer and secretary, and quiz leader. She was an especially talented musician, playing both piano and accordion, and had a special ability to sing various vocal parts.

During the last 50-plus years, she had been involved in working on the family ranch and with Delmar raised six children.

For a brief time, she was a substitute cook for the Powder Valley School and head cook for “Fire-Up Camp,” a teen retreat held at the family ranch/homestead. She loved to cook huge meals and bake homemade bread and pies, which people raved about. She enjoyed raising chickens, geese and other animals. She grew a large garden, raised flowers and thoroughly enjoyed them even until her last days. 

She was an accomplished seamstress, sewing many western shirts and other garments for family and friends. During the last few years, she enjoyed embroidery.

Elfrida loved her family trips to the mountains to pick huckleberries, mushrooms and get firewood. The tradition for her family on those trips was her locally famous homemade root beer, tuna sandwiches and Butterfinger candy bars. 

She was a “one-of-a-kind fisher-woman,” who loved to reel in the trout or catfish but because of her extreme dislike of worms and snakes, her children and grandchildren usually baited
her hooks.

Having given her heart to Christ during her teen years, she was an example of how a Christian woman should live. Those closest to her knew her as a true “peacemaker.” Her family felt “special” and cared for, even to the point of her going without what she needed, to provide for those she loved. One of her favorite sayings was, “Mind over matter.”

She would be up early to get the wood/coal stove going to warm the house and to spend time in her personal daily devotions before the rest of the family were up. 

She often was the determining factor of being sure the entire family had “family devotions” together each day.

The children recall many times where they would find her kneeling next to her bed praying for them or others she loved. She was a consistent “Prayer Warrior,” loving and giving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Elfrida is survived by her husband of nearly 63 years, Delmar Ed Free; daughters, Kathy Mudd and husband, Ted, of High Valley, Karen Mudd of High Valley, Nancy Free-Klein of North Powder and Rosemary Free of North Powder; sons, Randal Free and wife, Margaret, of Lexington, Jonathan Free and wife, Diane, of Jimmy Creek Ranch, North Powder, sister, Lillian Mehlhoff of Twin Bridges Mont., brother, Gust Moline of Minnesota, 19 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and various nieces and nephews. 

She was preceded in death by her father, Albert Moline; mother, Rose Herringer; an infant son, sisters, Dorothy Moline and Esther Loberg; brother, Edwin Moline, and son-in-law, Terry Mudd.

Online condolences may be made to the family at



Erma Pauline Hamblin

Formerly of La Grande



Erma Pauline Hamblin, 93, of Colville, Wash., and formerly of La  Grande, died Jan. 30.

Funeral services for Mrs. Hamblin will be held at Danekas Funeral Chapel in Colville at 10 a.m. Tuesday. A  graveside service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Hillcrest Cemetery in La Grande.

Mrs. Hamblin  was born on July 27, 1920, to Harry and IIma Hamblin in Eugene.

After spending her childhood in Eugene, she moved to La Grande as a teenager. While in La Grande, she met and married her husband of 62 years, Lawton Hamblin. 

They enjoyed hunting together, and Mrs. Hamblin was a “sure shot,” having bagged several deer. As a young couple, they lived in Boardman and Promise before settling in La Grande to raise their family. She was beloved “Noni” to five grandchildren. 

Upon retirement, she and her husband became “snow birds” and spent six winters in Arizona. While there, she took up painting. In 1980, her art work was displayed in a La Grande area bank.

Mrs. Hamblin moved to Colville in 1996. After her husband died, she continued to live independently until age 88. 

She briefly lived in an assisted living community, but after a fall, declining health required the care found at Pinewood Nursing Home. While at Pinewood, she proved herself to be caring and concerned for others and would greet friends and staff with a sincere “Hello, Honey!” 

She noticed when staff looked tired and would often encourage or invite them to sit and rest and not work so hard.

Mrs. Hamblin would say the most important decision she ever made in her life was to accept Jesus as her Savior and Lord. She enjoyed Bible studies and reading her Bible. She was a member of the First Baptist Church in La Grande and Grace Evangelical Free Church in Colville.

Survivors include her son, Kin Hamblin of La Grande; daughter and son-in-law, Darcia and Clay Throop of Colville; brother and sister-in-law, Keith and Nancy Hickey of Coos Bay; five grandchildren, Trisha, Kami, Micah, Penny and Lory; and five great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband in 2000 and her brother, Sid Hamblin, in 1998.

A special thanks to the staff in the Special Care Unit at Pinewood Nursing Center, whose tender, faithful, loving and compassionate care is given to all the residents.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Pinewood Nursing Home Special Care Unit. Danekas Funeral Chapel and Crematory is entrusted with the arrangements.

People can visit the online memorial at rvww.danekas and sign the guestbook.