OBITUARIES: Monday, March 31

By Observer Upload March 31, 2014 10:51 am
Gray, Yeager, Askins, Chase, Olson



Sharlene Gray

Island City

Sharlene Gray, 78, of Island City, died at a local care facility Thursday. A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the Cove United Methodist Church. A complete obituary will be published later. Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory is handling the arrangements.



Edward L. Yeager


Edward L. Yeager, 73, of Elgin, died Sunday at Grande Ronde Hospital. A full obituary will be published later. Loveland Funeral Chapel & Crematory will be handling the arrangements.



LaRue Askins

Formerly of La Grande


LaRue Askins, 55, formerly of La Grande, died March 26. A private Service will be held a later date (date and time will be announced). 

LaRue was born May 23, 1958, in Los Angeles to Velia and James Lavern Quine.

LaRue attended Redwood High School in Visalia, Calif., where she was raised. She moved to Farmersville, Calif., and later lived in La Grande. 

LaRue worked for the City of Farmersville in California and the State Department of Health Services in La Grande. She enjoyed hunting, fishing and spending time with her grandchildren and family.

LaRue is survived by her husband, Robert Askins, and daughters, Melanie Montejano of Exeter, Calif., and Melissa Porras of La Grande; sons, Tyrone Askins of Kingsland, Ga., and Bobby Askins of La Grande; nine grandchildren and one great-grandson.

The family would like to thank the community for its support during her battle with cancer, which was deeply appreciated. Condolences can be send to the family through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home & Cremation Services, P.O. Box 543, Halfway 97834.



Raymond W. Chase

Formerly of Baker City and Union


Raymond W. Chase, 44, of Cuba, Mo., and formerly of Baker City and Union, died March 20 in Childress, Texas. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. April 5 at the Baker City Christian Church on Highway 7, with Jesse Whitford officiating.

Known as Ray, he was born Sept. 22, 1969, to Mary Ellen and Raymond Sondenaa in La Grande. His parents divorced when he was three years old. He grew up in Baker City, where as a child he loved spending time in the mountains, camping and hunting with his family and friends. In 1987 he graduated from Baker High School, where he played football and wrestled.

As a senior, Ray worked for the Harrel Ranch. He always looked forward to Miners Jubilee, where he could “compete with the big boys.”

A jack of all trades, Ray was known for always being willing to lend a helping hand. His favorite job was long-haul trucking.

In 2000 while driving through Cuba, Mo., Ray met his wife, Shannon Wheeler. They were married in 2004 and lived in Missouri until 2008, when they moved to Union to be closer to Ray’s mother and family. While living in Union Ray worked at the windmills and for ranchers. They moved back to Cuba in 2012.

Family and God were Ray’s passions in life. In addition to driving long haul, he was an EMT and was studying to be an ordained minister.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents, two aunts and two uncles and his stepfather Bud Jackson.

Survivors include his wife, Shannon, and their sons, Timmy, Matt, Tyler, Aaron and Logan, all of Cuba, Mo.; children, Kayla, Chris and Zach, all of Sioux Falls, S.D.; mother, Mary Ellen Jackson of Union; father and stepmother, Ray and Lynn Sondenaa of Fiji Islands; stepfather, Chuck Chase of Baker City; sisters and brothers-in-law, Colinda and Travis Knight of Childress, TX, Cami and Josh Siel of La Grande, Tawnia Rivera of Hawaii, Kelly and Mike Karnowski of Baker City and Karen and Fred Overland of Caldwell, Idaho; mother-in-law and father-in-law, Norma and Tim Gray, and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Crystal and Mike Garrisoon, Aaron and Samantha Wheeler and Daniel and Tina Wheeler, all of Cuba, Mo.; many extended family members; and special childhood friends Russ and Jenny Johnson of Baker City.



Gary Richard Olson

Portland and La Grande


Gary Richard Olson, 65, of Portland died March 26 of sudden cardiac arrest. The death occurred in La Grande where he and his wife enjoyed a getaway home. A private gathering will be held at the Olson home in Portland on Sunday.

Gary was born on Aug. 20, 1948, to Robert and June Reekers Olson. He grew up in the Multnomah neighborhood of Portland.

Gary received his undergraduate degree from George Fox College and a master’s degree in counseling from Oregon College of Education, now Western Oregon University. 

He spent his working years helping emotionally disturbed and troubled children in residential treatment facilities and as a caseworker and resource consultant for the Department of Human Services.

In retirement, Gary taught himself computer programming and enjoyed developing websites. 

For many years, he was the webmaster for the Washington County Public Affairs Forum. 

More recently, Gary enjoyed street photography and videography using green screen techniques. 

Gary was noted for his quirky sense of humor, which was especially popular on Facebook.

On Nov. 18, 1978, Gary married Anne Hanford, and they settled in the Garden Home neighborhood of Portland. The couple enjoyed working together on gardening and house projects and had particularly enjoyed the creative challenge of renovating their midcentury modern home in La Grande. They enjoyed simple pleasures together including going out to breakfast and taking day trips. In their Portland neighborhood, they were known for putting on a neighborhood July 4th potluck.

Gary is survived by his wife, Anne; sister-in-law and husband, Marcia and Robin Loney of Hillsboro; Portland-area nieces Jennifer Anderson and Cindy Hanford; and numerous other relatives. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Memorial contributions may be made to Oregon Dog Rescue through which Gary and Anne recently adopted a dog or to Eastern Oregon University Foundation/Grand Staircase Restoration Fund. Gary’s last photos were of the deteriorating staircase.

 Online condolences to the family may be made at