Obituaries for February 19, 2014

By Observer Upload February 19, 2014 10:23 am
Frank, Gribling, Jeffers, Fulton, Graham



Sarah Frank




Sarah Frank, 19 of Elgin, died Feb. 5 at her residence. A celebration of life service was held at the Family Life Church, 502 S. St. Paul Highway, Newberg, at 11:30 a.m. today, with a reception following. Sarah will be interred at the Valley View Memorial Park Mausoleum in Newberg. Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory is handling the arrangements.

Sarah was born Feb. 16, 1994, in Newberg to Jimmy Frank and Dorothy E. (Kost) Faulkner. She lived in Newberg, McMinnville and Elgin. Sarah was homeschooled and then attended Crater Elementary School, Newberg, where she was given a self-management award. She then attended Mountain View Middle School, Newberg, and graduated from McMinnville High School. After high school, she attended Blue Mountain Community College.

Sarah was employed at the Royal Motor Inn in
La Grande and did some occasional babysitting. She loved dancing, doing crafts, creating art and drawings, fashion and cooking. She loved animals and rescuing cats. Basketball was her favorite sport. 

Sarah loved little children and was passionate about contributing to the Busala School, Zambia, a school for orphans in Africa. 

Sarah is survived by her parents, Jimmy Frank of Wood Village and Dorothy Faulkner of Elgin; sisters, Esther Frank of McMinnville and Hannah Frank of Newberg; brothers, David Frank, Daniel Frank and Nathan Frank, all of Newberg; nephew, Jacob John Frank; and aunts and uncles, Louis Frank, Jane Pulliam, Richard Kost and Edward Kost. She was preceded in death by her aunt, Myrna Frank.

Memorial contributions in honor of Sarah may be made to the Busala School, P.O. Box 193, Dundee OR 97115.

Online condolences to the family may be made at



Melissa Beth Gribling

La Grande



Melissa Beth Gribling, 31, of La Grande, died at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho, on Feb. 12. A celebration of life service will be held at Faith Lutheran Church in La Grande at 2 p.m. Friday.

Melissa was born Sept. 21, 1982, in Nuremburg Germany, to Mark and Terrie (Puff) Gross. At the age of 3, she moved with her family to Fort Irwin, Calif. Melissa thrived in the desert, loving the outside and playing with her many friends.

She attended Fort Irwin Elementary. 

At the age of 13, she moved with her family to La Grande, where she spent the rest of her life. She attended both La Grande Middle School and La Grande High School. She married the love of her life, Emmett Gribling on Aug. 17, 2002, and started a family. Her sons, Jacob and Joseph, were born in May 2003, with the loss of Joseph at that time. Melissa grieved the loss of Joseph until her death. Melissa and Emmett’s third son was born in 2006, which brought her some peace.

Melissa was employed at Grande Ronde Hospital as a housekeeper, and as a cashier at both Safeway and Walmart. Melissa felt best when she was helping others. She began to think she should have gone to school to become a social worker. Many felt she was easy to talk to. She enjoyed photography and being a full-time mother. She was involved in school activities, anti-bullying campaigns, camping and fishing. Through these years she was a devoted and loving mother and wife, a good friend, wonderful daughter and great listener.

Melissa is survived by her husband, Emmett Gribling, and sons, Jacob and Matthew Gribling, all of La Grande; her parents, Mark and Terrie Gross of La Grande; brothers, Joshua Gross of La Grande, and James Gross of Clarksville, Tenn.; and aunts and uncles, Mary Malinda Pounder, Dee Marie Collins, Lela Rhoden, Michael Girardot, Thomas Girardot, Dale Puff II and Jerry Gross.

She was preceded in death by her son, Joseph Gribling (twin brother of Jacob), infant brother Jeremiah Gross, maternal grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Rhoden, and paternal grandparents, Gerald Gross and Beatrice Gross.

Online condolences to the family may be made at



Richard M. ‘Rick’ Jeffers




Richard M. “Rick” Jeffers, 68, died Feb. 15 at the Wallowa Memorial Hospital in Enterprise after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. 

Rick was born Oct. 29, 1945, at Onamia, Minn., the youngest of four children. When he was 1, the family moved to Union County and later settled in Wallowa, where his mother’s parents had a shoe-cobbling shop on Main Street. The family lived in several homes in town, but finally built a home near downtown Wallowa. His parents operated several businesses, including a restaurant and a coal delivery business.

In 1963, Rick graduated from Wallowa High, where he was a star basketball player and hurdler, lettering three times in each. He also sang in the chorus and wrote for the school newspaper. 

After graduating, he courted and married Sandee Collins in 1965. After their first child was born, they bought his parents’ home, where Rick and Sandee raised both of their children. Rick worked nearly all his working life in the timber industry, mostly at the Boise Cascade plywood plant in Elgin, but with stints as a railroad laborer, logger and at another mill in Northern Idaho.

Rick enjoyed reading and watching Westerns, fishing, hunting, camping, spending time with family, having a good party and working on his home. In the mid-1970s, he built a large addition to the original house. He also played “town-team” basketball, coached Little League and was a member of the Elks Club. He was known for his dry sense of humor and biting wit. He was also quick to pitch in when a neighbor needed help. 

In 1978, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which, over 34 years, slowly took his ability to work, then walk. He finally began to lose his ability to speak and eat. Throughout his battle with MS, he kept a strong, positive outlook and great sense of humor.

Survivors include his wife, Sandee; his daughter, Kari Schrock, and her husband, Todd; his son, Kevin, and his wife, Thanh; his brother, William, and his wife, Molly; his aunt, LaVerne (Keiser) Werst, as well as his five grandchildren and one great-grandson. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Layton and Dorothy (Keiser) Jeffers; his sister, Carol Sherman; and his brother, Loring.

Sandee and the family would like to thank everyone who have cared for him, supported and visited him over the years so he could stay in his own home.

A celebration of life will be held sometime in the coming summer. In lieu of gifts, the family asks that donations be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Oregon Chapter.



Walter ‘Buzz’ Eugene Fulton

La Grande


Walter “Buzz” Eugene Fulton, 93, died at Grande Ronde Hospital Feb. 7.

A memorial service for Buzz will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the La Grande National Guard Armory/Convention Center. Attire may be casual and winter wear.  

A viewing will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. tonight at Loveland Funeral Chapel. 

Donations can be made to Special Olympics, Blue Mountain Humane Society or a charity of choice in care of Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St., La Grande, OR 97850.

Online condolences to the family may be made at love 



Phyllis J. Graham

La Grande



Phyllis J. Graham, 92, of La Grande, died Dec. 22, 2013, at a local care facility.  

She was the first child born to Joseph J. and A. Fern (Wickam) Graham, Aug. 24, 1921, in Baker. Her sister Annabelle came along in 1924. The family later moved to Washington State, where her father died in 1944. Phyllis would spend vacations with her mother’s family in Oregon, and savored the time spent with her many cousins.

Phyllis married Eugene Smyda, and they had a daughter, Cathy Jane, in January 1951. Cathy died from leukemia in 1956 while staying with her Grandmother Fern in Washington State. Phyllis and Eugene divorced around the same time of the death of their daughter. 

Phyllis married Humbert Castellani in 1958. While married to Humbert, they worked with the greyhound race dogs in Clearwater, Fla. After her divorce from Humbert, Phyllis moved to Carnation, Wash., to care for her mother.  

After the death of her mother, Phyllis moved to La Grande to be close to family. She was very independent and lived in her apartment until she fell and could not live alone anymore. She moved into adult foster care October 2009. 

Phyllis made several close friends while in La Grande and kept in contact with them even after moving out of her apartment. She enjoyed autumn, the fall colors and the falling leaves. Phyllis loved flowers of any kind whether they were in a garden or in a bouquet. 

Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents, her daughter, her sister and a nephew. She is survived by two nieces, and numerous cousins and extended family. At her request, there will be no service.