Wilberta (Speaker) Shoemaker, Willie, was born in El Dorado, Kan., Oct. 29, 1931, to Wilber Bell Speaker and Helen Dorothy (Schirmer) Speaker. She had no brothers or sisters. She moved to Gladewater, Texas, when she was 6 years old and lived there until shortly before her 13th birthday.

In 1944, she and her parents moved to Oregon. They spent the first couple of months in Salem and then moved to Tillamook, where she lived until after her marriage. She was an active member in the Tillamook Methodist Church and Sunday school and as a choir member and had many happy memories from the Methodist Youth Fellowship (M.Y.F.) meetings before the evening services. Some of these memories were the trips the M.Y.F. groups made to Camp Magruder at Rockaway as it was being built. The M.Y.F. helped clear and make trails around the camp buildings down to the lake and out to the beach at the ocean. Willie was baptized, married, and her first two children were christened at this church.

In high school, she was a member of the Silverwave Assembly of Rainbow for girls. She graduated from Tillamook High School in 1949. She worked a short time at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. In 1950, she went to work for “Ma Bell” at the telephone company. Through her job she met her husband-to-be, Ronald Phillip Shoemaker. They were married on New Year’s Eve in 1950.

In 1952, with baby daughter Shelley, they moved to Los Angeles, Calif., when Ron’s hitch was up in the Coast Guard. They bought their first home in Whittier, Calif., where their second and third children, David and Terri, were born. In 1957, they returned to Oregon and lived approximately one and a half years in Portland and then to Salem, where their fourth child, Andrew, was born.

In the spring of 1969, they moved to Hines. Willie worked at the old Tiller Grocery as a checker and then later in the meat department. She was a part-time bookkeeper at Burns Automotive Parts and at the Burns Times-Herald and owner-operator of her yarn shop, “Willie’s Wire Bird,” for about one and a half years.
In 1984, she and Ron went into partnership with Steve and Cindy Grasty and opened A Parts Store, and it was back to bookkeeping again.

Willie joined the Burns Christian Church in 1992. She was a member of the Harney County Arts and Crafts Association since 1978, during which time she held all of the offices at different times. In addition, she served several years as supervisor of the art department at the Harney County Fair. In 1992, she became a member of the library board.

Since moving to Hermiston on Labor Day 2006, she had met several close friends and joined a card making class at Danica’s Scrapbooking Store. She was so very creative, and she made a card for every event, birthday, holiday and special occasions. All her family and friends enjoyed the heartfelt emotion and caring put into every card they received.

She enjoyed her Red Hat friends from her clubs in both Burns and Hermiston. Through the years she made many friends through this club and remained in contact with many members.

Willie was an avid reader, mostly mysteries, and loved her collection of giraffes. Most of all she loved crafts of any kind: knitting, crocheting, sewing and oil and water color painting. In her 50s she bought a scroll saw and really got into decorative woodworking.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Ron; her mother, Helen Speaker; and her grandson, Nickolas Shoemaker.

She is survived by her two sons, David and wife Mary Jo of Burns and Andrew of Benton City, Wash.; two daughters, Shelly and husband Reed Jassmann of Sammamish, Wash., and Terri and husband Pat Ward of Hermiston; six grandchildren, Holly (Jassmann) Hall, Christopher Ward, Nicole (Ward) Malmberg, Candice (Shoemaker) Every, and Joseph Shoemaker; and five great-grandchildren, Patrick Ward, Taylor Ward, Nickolas Malmberg, Whitney Malmberg and Quinn Hall.

Her final wish was to be cremated and to have her ashes scattered with her husband and mother, Helen Speaker, at Burnt Cabin Creek above Emigrant Creek. She wanted the poem “Beyond the Rainbow” read that she left with Pastor John Leffler and the music “Claire De Lune” played and “In the Garden” sung.

At her request, there are three different places to make donations in her memory. The first is to the Harney County Arts and Crafts Department at the Harney County Fairgrounds, Fairgrounds Road, Burns, OR 97720; the second is to the Harney County Library, 80 West “D” St., Burns, OR 97720; and the third is to the Vange John Memorial Hospice, 1050 W. Elm Ave., Suite 220, Hermiston, OR 97838.


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