Gracie M. (Dunn) Tarter obit photo

1933-2020 • Union

Gracie Mae Tarter, 87, of Union, died Dec. 28, 2020, at Grande Ronde Hospital. A private family memorial service was held at Loveland Funeral Chapel. Interment took place Jan. 4 at Union Victorian Cemetery.

Gracie was born Jan. 10, 1933, in Canon City, Colorado, to Lee William and Minnie Ethel (Simmons) Dunn. She started school in Leadville, Colorado, and then moved to her grandparents’ farm in Canon City. She later moved with her family to Vancouver, Washington, and Salem.

The Dunn family moved to La Grande to open the Cupboard Café, where Gracie worked during her high school years. She graduated from La Grande High School in 1951. She worked for the Oregon State Home Extension Service and for David Baum Sr.

On April 16, 1954, Gracie married Walter R. Tarter, and they made their home in Union. They started a thoroughbred horse racing business in the 1950s and owned, trained and bred thoroughbred racehorses until their retirement in 2000. Walter and Gracie traveled to racetracks in the Northwest including Portland Meadows, Yakima Meadows, Les Bois Park in Boise, and Playfair in Spokane.

Gracie volunteered as the coordinator of the Union Food Bank and Union senior meal program. She was a member of the Grande Ronde Hospital Auxiliary, was a greeter at the Union County Museum and was past president of the VFW Auxiliary. Gracie was a member of the Union United Methodist Church. She became the assistant racing secretary of the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show. Gracie and Walter were recognized as grand marshals of the EOLS parade.

Gracie was an avid sports fan. She enjoyed attending sporting events at Union High School. She loved the Portland Trailblazers and Seattle Seahawks.

Gracie has a wall in her living room dedicated to her 14 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. On Dec. 22, she was able to meet her newest great-grandchild, who was born Oct. 26, 2020. Baby Gracie is named after her great-grandma.

Surviving relatives include her daughters, Rita C. Bangs of Union, Jacquelynn M. Tarter of Spokane, Washington, Kathy L. Miller of La Grande and Cindy C. Tarter of Spokane; son and daughter-in-law, Robert M. and Ho’ Onani Tarter of Rockaway Beach; sister and brother-in-law, Jeanne and Jim Stewart of Flippin, Arkansas; and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Lee Dunn and Minnie Leavitt; husband, Walter; brother, Robert Dunn; and oldest daughter, Brenda Cantrell.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Union High School Bobcat Foundation, EOLS or the Historic Union Community Hall, a nonprofit organization that is purchasing the Union Methodist church property.

Online condolences may be made to the family at

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