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Dee was born Aug. 22, 1933, in Ogden, Utah to Condido and Cecilia (Alzola) Acurio. The family moved to Winnemucca, Nev., when Dee was 5 years old.
Her father died when she was 7 years old. Her mother later married her stepfather, Joe Churruca, who purchased a cattle ranch in Paradise Valley, Nev., where Dee spent the remainder of her childhood.
Many of her favorite stories were from her days in Paradise Valley and the lifelong friendships she made there.
It was at the “fish pond” in Paradise Valley that she met her future husband, Bill Swisher.
After high school in Winnemucca, Nev., Dee attended St. Alphonsus Nursing School in Boise, Idaho. During this time, Bill was drafted into the Korean War and sent to Fort Smith, Ark. They married in 1952, and Dee joined Bill in Arkansas.
Bill was discharged from the army in 1954, and the couple returned to Nevada and a job on the Lucky Seven Ranch in McDermitt. They moved to Harney County in 1956 to work for Walt McEwen.
For many years, they were hired as a couple. Bill managing the buckaroos and cattle operations and Dee cooking for the ranch and hay crews.
Their last 10 years in the ranch management business was spent in the Riley area with Silver Creek Ranches.
When Silver Creek sold in 1978, Dee went to work for the Harney County Clerk’s office. She worked as deputy clerk for 10 years, and then became clerk in 1989. She held that office for two terms until she retired in 1999. During this time, the office saw many changes, including implementing elections by mail and automatic ballot counters.
Dee was known for her ready smile and fun attitude. She was a joy to be around and expressed an uncanny interest in many things. She loved family gatherings, having company over, sharing something good to eat and a good story. She had many, many friends and was always eager to meet new people and make more!
She was an author, self-publishing a book, The Good Old Days?, a collection of true stories from her life of pioneer cattlemen, buckaroos and cowboys she had known.
Dee was quick to volunteer and involved with the community serving on school boards, Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Business and Professional Women’s Club and Harney County Democratic Society to name a few.
She was also an artist, illustrating her book with drawings. She was a gifted painter and seamstress. She enjoyed gardening, antiques and needlework.
Dee was especially proud of her grandchildren and often boasted of their obvious (to her) superior looks and intelligence, often saying, “There isn’t a bad one in the bunch!”
Dee is survived by her son, Cam Swisher (wife Kathy) of Burns; daughters, Martha Rogers (husband Ross) of Bend, and Cecelia Gerlach (husband Mike) of La Grande; grandchildren, Savannah and Garrett Swisher and Mathew Tiller.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill, in 2007.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to Riverside Adult Foster Home in La Grande where owner Bob Kennon helped make Dee’s last two years happy and comfortable.
At Dee’s request, there will be no formal service. Contributions in her memory may be made to Harney County Library in care of Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 4th Street, La Grande, OR 97850.
Online condolences to the family may be made at www.lovelandfuneralchapel.com.