OBITUARIES: Wednesday, March 19

By Observer Upload March 19, 2014 10:34 am
Besola, Combes, Vanderwall, Graham, Campo, Syverson, Young



Erik P. Besola


Erik P. Besola, 56, of Enterprise, died March 12 of natural causes at his home.

Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Joseph Community Center with burial at Joseph Cemetery. A potluck will follow at the Joseph Community Center.

Bollman Funeral Home is handling arrangements. A full obituary will appear later.



Raymond H. Combes


Raymond H. Combes, 86, of Joseph, died Saturday in Boise, Idaho. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the United Methodist Church in Joseph. Memorials may be given to the Joseph United Methodist Church or to the Wallowa Valley Health Care Foundation.

A full obituary will follow.



Bert W. Vanderwall


Bert W. Vanderwall, 86, of Haines, died March 13.

A viewing will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City. A celebration of life will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Baker City Church of the Nazarene at 1250 Hughes Lane, Baker City, with a graveside following at the Haines Cemetery. 



Betty Courtright Graham

La Grande


Betty Courtright Graham, 85, of La Grande, died March 10 in the arms of her loving husband of 64 years after a long struggle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Betty Courtright was born Aug. 26, 1928, at the family farm home in the Grande Ronde Valley to Gilbert and Grace (Allen) Courtright. She was one of six children and one-third of a set of triplets. Her early education was in the one-room country schools Riverside and Willowdale. After graduating from Union High School in 1946, she attended Eastern Oregon College and graduated from Oregon State College. 

She married Lee Graham on Sept. 11, 1949, while both were still students at Oregon State. They raised three children. Betty taught kindergarten in Corvallis at the OSU Early Learning Program, and later in Klamath Falls and Salem. She received her teaching certificate from Western Oregon College in 1963.

In 1963, Betty and Lee returned to La Grande, where she taught in the La Grande School District until retiring in 1988. An enthusiastic and dedicated educator, she sparked the curiosity of students through active engagement and believed that learning should be fun. 

Betty and Lee met at Wallowa Lake at the age of 16. Later, they and their children built a cabin there and spent many summer days hiking, canoeing and enjoying times with friends and family. In 1972, Betty and Lee bought a parcel of land in Wallowa County, where they grew trees. They received a number of awards for their Christmas and landscaping trees. The couple spent weekends and summers at the tree farm, unable to curb their habit of rising early and working hard. From their view eastward across Joseph Canyon, they kept track of sunrises, thunderstorms and the comings and goings of birds, elk, deer, mountain lions and bobcats.

Betty and Lee traveled extensively throughout the western states and Canada. They enjoyed learning while traveling, and attended many Elderhostel events. Betty was an avid reader, who enjoyed fiction, biography and history. She followed current events with interest and the necessary sense of humor. Betty’s curiosity and cheerful spirit drew her to friends who also enjoyed lively discussions. She was a member of the Methodist Church, Northwest Tree Growers Association, Union County Retired Teachers and a member of Delta Kappa Gamma for many years.

Survivors include her husband, Lee, of La Grande; daughters, Joanne of Corvallis, and Connie and husband Mike Scroggs of Hood River; son, Russ, and his wife, Linda, of La Grande; two grandchildren and one great-grandson. 

She also leaves a sister, Ruth Holznagel (Bob) of Forest Grove along with many in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews. 

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Phyllis Purvine and Bernice Warren (triplet); and brothers Allen Courtright and Burr Courtright (triplet).



Neil Dale Campo

La Grande


Neil Dale Campo, 81, of La Grande died March 15 at Grande Ronde Hospital. 

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Loveland Funeral Chapel, with a graveside service to follow at the Elgin Cemetery. Casual dress is suggested.

Neil was born May 18, 1932, to Andrew Jackson and Viola Minnie Freeze Campo in Mannsville, Okla. He moved to Vallejo, Calif., at age 12 and graduated from high school there. He then entered military service with the U.S. Army from 1949 to 1952, during which time he served in the Korean Conflict. Neil was married to Ann for a few years. In 1956, he married Virginia D. Tucker in New Mexico. Virginia preceded him in death in 1972.

Neil owned his own septic tank and Roto Rooter business. After retiring from his business, he worked as a bus driver for the state of Washington. Neil was active with the VFW in Enumclaw, Wash. He was an avid bowler and golfer.

Neil is survived by his children, Ron (Merideth) Campo of Snohomish, Wash., Tonya (Ted) Frick of South Prairie, Wash., Neilla (Tracy) Edgar of Phelan, Calif., Jay Campo of Carlsbad, Calif., Andy Campo of Elgin, Neil (Robin) Campo Jr. of Mill Creek, Wash.; brother, Corgian Campo of Clear Lake, Calif.; sister, Christeen Deal of Boise, Idaho; numerous nieces and nephews; 18 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Neil was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia D. Tucker; children, Kay Campo, Paul Campo and Darren Campo; and siblings, Laquietta Like, A.J. Campo, Jannette Pease, Charleen Board, Sherry Wise and Darrel Campo.

In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to the charity of choice in Neil’s name.

Online condolences may be made to the family at



Phyllis Eileen Syverson



Phyllis Eileen Syverson, 61, of Elgin, died March 15 at her home. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center.

Phyllis was born July 15, 1952, the youngest of 12 children, to Francis and Cecilia (Russler) Courtney in Stayton. On June 15, 1979, she married Rodney Syverson in Vancouver, Wash. They moved to Eastern Oregon in 1990. She worked as a secretary for the Oregon Department of Forestry until retiring March 1 of this year. She enjoyed gardening, sewing, crocheting, camping and fishing. She loved spending time with family.

Survivors include her daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Scott Allen of La Grande; stepchildren, Rodney Lee Syverson Jr. of Salem and Jason and Jenny Syverson of Mill City; two grandchildren; and siblings, Joyce Phaneuf of Sublimity, Carol Rauscher of Aumsville, Dean Courtney of Stayton, Doris Alumbaugh of Sharon Springs, Kan., Paul Courtney of Stayton, Rose Thurston of Stayton, Tony Courtney of Auburn, Wash., and Vera Kirsch of Aumsville; and other relatives. 

She was preceded in death by her husband, Rodney Syverson on Oct. 2, 2009, and siblings Brian Courtney, Betty Zurfluh and James Courtney. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.



Keith Edwin Young



Keith Edwin Young, 61, of Portland died March 7 at Emanuel Legacy Hospital in Portland after a six-month illness. 

Burial will be at the Union Pioneer Cemetery. A memorial service will follow at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center.

He was born Nov. 30, 1952, in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Ronald and Carolyn Young, who now live in La Grande.

Keith graduated from The Dalles High School in 1971 and graduated from Lane Community College with an associate degree. He later attended Portland State University. Keith served in the U.S. Army as a communications specialist and was stationed in Germany from 1972 through 1976.

Keith worked for First Interstate bank, and later HSBC for nearly 30 years. He was working for Capital One in the fraud detection department when he became ill.

Keith enjoyed camping in the mountains, competitive shooting, riding motorcycles and doing projects on his 1890s home. However, his greatest joy was the strong, lifelong friendships he formed. He is survived by many loyal friends and a huge extended family.