Al Bonson 1957-2014

Posted on November 19th in Obituaries

OBIT Bonson webAl Bonson of Burns  passed away Nov. 2

Al had a great love of stories, whether reliving the events in one of his tall tales or listening to adventures told by family and friends. He loved to laugh and make others laugh. Like all true fisherman and storytellers, the facts might be slightly exaggerated and bent over time, but they were real and were a doorway into the man we knew and loved.

Al was born September 1957, in San Diego, Calif., the second son to Norman and Donna. This is where his journey began. Not all chapters in life begin and end in the way we foresee them, so Donna was soon caring for her young family and looking to the future.

Donna met and married Larry Root in 1961, and soon settled in Idanha. An idyllic time and place with boundless opportunity for a growing family of young boys looking for adventure. It was a like a page from Tom Sawyer for Al and his brothers, Norm, Craig, Andy and Hoot. Fishing and playing on the river banks and in the woods were some of Al’s fondest memories as a young boy. Al always had a close relationship with all of his brothers and family.

A change of jobs in 1970 meant a move to Burns for the family, and a new set of friends for Al. Many of these friendships from elementary and high school became life-long relationships. Al was a loyal friend, quick to tease and just as quick to help you when you were down.

After graduating, Al worked several jobs, including one at Edward Hines Lumber Mill. In 1986, Al began working for his brother, Andy, alongside his father, Larry, brother, Hoot and Uncle Dave, at Andy’s new company, Andy’s Custom Work. Hard work and long hours spent haying and farming in Burns and Christmas Valley were just fine with Al, but helping teach his nieces and nephews along the way were the times he treasured most. Al was great with kids; he was tough, but always loving.

Around this time, The Powerhouse Restaurant hired a new waitress; a new girl in town with red hair and an outlandish laugh. It was there that Al and Steph met for the first time. They began dating in 1989, sharing many passions, including family, travel, music and Oregon Duck football. Ten short years later, they realized they were perfect for each other. They married in the spring of 1999.

Al and Steph traveled throughout their marriage. Family and friends joined them on trips from the Costa Rican jungle to the Caribbean seas. He lived for adventure, grabbing life with both hands and squeezing everything he could out of it. And he encouraged others to do the same. Oregon Duck football was a venue for sharing time with others. He and Steph loved tailgating at Autzen Stadium with family and friends. A mention of Oregon could cause you to lose hours debating the merits of his favorite team.

As much as both Al and Steph loved to travel, they equally loved living in Harney County. The people and the country are amazingly beautiful. The sense of community and fellowship here is a true blessing.

When Al faced the illness that threatened his health and future, he battled it like a warrior poet. Against incredible odds, he chose to hope and live each moment. He spent this time as he did his life, having adventures and spreading love. While he lost his battle with the illness in the end, his life came full circle. Those people whom he loved so much stepped forward to be at his side, with hearts as large as his and encouragement along the way.

Al was preceded in death by his dad, Larry Root; nephew, Brandon Bonson; and many cherished family and friends.

Al is survived by his wife, Steph Bonson; mother, Donna Root; brothers, Norm Bonson, Craig Bonson, Andy Root and Larry Root; sisters-in-law, Mary Bonson, Teri Bonson, Jana Root and Dawn Root; 16 nephews and nieces; 16 grand-nephews and nieces; many uncles, aunts and cousins; as well as friends who are loved like family.

Mary Jane Fine 1923-2014

Posted on November 19th in Obituaries

OBIT Fine webMary Jane Fine, 91, a longtime resident of Harney and Grant counties, passed away of natural causes Nov. 10 at Blue Mountain Care Center in Prairie City.

Mary was born Jan. 25, 1923, in Chicago, Ill., to Leonard and Edna (Sarre) Johnson. Mary grew up in the hard times of the Depression years.

At age 14, with a work-for-room-and-board arrangement, Mary left Illinois with her aunt and uncle, Bill and Mae Taber. Traveling in the back of a pickup truck, Mary reached the end of the journey when they arrived at Steens Mountain. Mary and the Tabers first lived along Indian Creek, then on a homestead near the Blitzen River. It was there, she always said, she learned the value of hard work by helping them build fence, cutting wood, packing horses, and assisting with the Taber’s hunting and fishing guide service.

In 1941, Mary and a girlfriend moved to Portland, to work on ships at the Kaiser shipyards. After the war, Mary returned to the Burns area.

Mary wed Clifford Fine in 1948. They lived and worked at Roaring Springs and Three Mile ranches in Catlow Valley just south of Frenchglen. During that time, their two children, Joseph Mark and Sally, were born. After 12 years, Mary and Cliff purchased a ranch and moved the family to the Double O Valley, 45 miles southeast of Burns.

In 1980, Mary and Cliff moved to Grant County, where they purchased a ranch outside of Dayville on the south fork of the John Day River. Ten years later, they scaled down their ranching operations and moved to Mount Vernon. After Cliff’s death in January 1992, Mary, along with Sally’s help, continued the ranching operation on a smaller scale. Six months later, Mary became seriously ill, which forced the sale of the last of their cattle. Mary pulled through the medical crisis, and stayed the rest of her years in her Mount Vernon home.

Mary is survived by son, Joseph Mark Fine; daughter, Sally Fine; granddaughters Tamora Fine and Shyanne Fine; two great-granddaughters; cousin, Etta Mae Critchlow; sister-in-law, Mildred Fine; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Clifford; and brother, Donald Johnson.

A graveside service was held Nov. 17 at the Burns Cemetery in Burns. A reception was held at the Burns Elks Lodge following in the Service.

Memorial Contributions may be made to the Harney County Senior and Community Services  Center through Driskill Memorial Chapel, 241 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day, OR 97845.

Beth Asmussen Jamison 1954-2014

Posted on November 19th in Obituaries

OBIT Asmussen webBeth Asmussen Jamison, 60, passed away Nov. 11 at Harris Hospital in Bremerton, Wash., following a recent illness.

Beth was born July 29, 1954, in Seoul, Korea, and was adopted into the loving family of Larry and Bethel Asmussen in 1956.

She attended Hines Grade School and Burns High School. Beth was dearly loved by all who had the privilege to know her.

She is survived by her parents; sons, Zebulah Nelson of Pahoa, Hawaii, and Luke and Ivan Wesson of Bremerton, Wash.; brothers, Clifford Asmussen and his wife, Peggy of Burns, and John and his wife, Jennie Asmussen of Bend; as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.


Wayne Jackson Blaylock 1930-2014

Posted on November 19th in Obituaries

Wayne Jackson Blaylock, 84, passed away Nov. 7.

Wayne was born Oct. 31, 1930, the youngest son born to William (Bill) and Minnie (Rogers) Blaylock, and third generation farmer/rancher of one of the first pioneer families to settle on the confluence of the middle and south forks of the Malheur River in the 1800s, and was the last Riverside resident of those pioneer families.

After graduating from Crane Union High School, he was inducted into the Army, even though he told them he had cataracts, and received a medical discharge.

He was a life member of the Burns Elks Lodge.

Along with his ranching and farming, in 1959 Wayne became a third-generation postmaster at Riverside and moved the post office back to the ranch where it had been a half-century earlier. Wayne retired Oct. 15, 2005, and the Riverside Post Office was closed.

Wayne loved to hunt and fish, and sit around the kitchen table playing poker and sharing tall tales with family and friends.

He is survived by sisters, Ruth Duncan and Rose Blaylock; nephew, Rod Duncan; great-nieces, Lika Shapiro and Alina Marston and her children, Luke, Michael and Anna Rose; and long time friend, Cora Agee.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Floyd and Cliff; and nephew, Doug Duncan.

Wayne wanted to be cremated and his ashes buried in the Blaylock/Riverside cemetery on the family ranch. At his request, no service will be held.

Remembrances may be made to the Elks Eye Clinic, Casey Eye Institute, 3375, SW Terwilliger Blvd., Portland, OR 97239.

LaFollette’s Chapel is in charge of arrangements, P.O. Box 488, Burns OR 97720.


Ella Margaret Ivers Gates-Molsen passed away Oct. 19.

She was born March 24, 1923, in Albany to Emma Marie Engel and William Fredrick Ivers.

Her mother was born in Missouri and her father in Germany.

She attended Corvallis High School and graduated in 1941, where she met and later married her first husband, Robert Gerald Gates. He passed away May 22, 1976.

She later met and married Eric Carl Molsen.

She was an excellent housekeeper and baker. She was known by all for her friendly hospitality and her pies.

She lived the first part of her life in Corvallis, and later, after traveling with her second husband as “Snow Birds,” settled down in Arizona City, Ariz., where her second husband passed away Feb. 13, 2011.

A couple of years later, she moved to Burns to live with her only remaining daughter, Janell Buermann.

She was preceded in death by her first husband, Robert “Bob” Gates; second husband, Eric Molsen; daughter, Cheryl Neschke; and son, Robert Dennis Gates.

The last few days of her life were spent at The Aspens, where she had excellent care, and loving hospice attention to help her pass on peacefully.


Russell Buermann 1929-2014

Posted on November 19th in Obituaries

Russell Buermann passed away Sept. 21, after battling cancer.

He was born July 5, 1929, in Sacramento, Calif. He was an Oregon resident the last 25 years, and a resident of Harney County for 17 years. Russell retired as an executive engineer with Metropolitan Water District (MWD) in California. He began his career with MWD as a surveyor and worked his way up to being one of the top engineers, bringing water from the Lake Shasta region to Southern California and the Imperial Valley.

He was an artillery sergeant during the occupation in Germany.

Russell graduated from high school and was a tackle on the state champion football team. He was an avid athlete and played for the Army and early Oakland Raiders semi-pro football team. He was on the national champion slow-pitch softball team two out of three years.

Russell was a great fisherman, making many trips into Bahia, Mexico, where there were no formal roads at the time, and had a vacation residence at Bahia de los Angles, 20 hours from San Diego, Calif.

Russel was a kind and generous man, a friendly, helpful neighbor, and loved gardening. He gave of his produce generously.

He is survived by his sister, Ruth Ruddick of California; cousins, William Buermann of Burns, Joseph Buermann of Midvale, Idaho, and Dennis Buermann of Crane; and other relatives in several states.

Aleta Jean Baker 1949-2014

Posted on November 12th in Obituaries

OBIT BakerLongtime Harney County resident Aleta Baker passed away Oct. 21 in Springfield.

Aleta was born April 24, 1949 in Burns to Walter and Genevieve (Wiggins) Baker. She was a very independent woman who lived and loved life to the fullest.

She was preceded in death by her parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

As requested by Aleta, no services will be held.


Joe Steven Duff 1943-2014

Posted on November 12th in Obituaries

Joe Steven Duff passed away Oct. 28 at his home in Hines.

Joe was born Aug. 4, 1943 in Ontario. The eldest son of Audrey and Evelyn Duff, Joe grew up primarily in the Nampa, Idaho area where he enjoyed and participated in a wide array of activities, including agriculture, rodeo, music, sports and hunting. Joe attended Nampa High School, where he excelled in football and rodeo. Upon graduating in 1961, Joe Attended college at Treasure Valley Community College and Utah State, where he continued to enjoy participation in football and rodeo.

Joe met Rosalie Looney in 1964, and the two were married Aug. 7 1965, in a union that would span nearly five decades and produce five children which he loved very much, and they would live primarily in Oregon for the entirety of their marriage. Throughout his life, Joe worked in various agricultural fields while also driving short and long-haul semi-trucks. He continued to drive truck until his retirement from AGL in 2013. During retirement, Joe would continue to drive truck for various companies around Burns and Hines when they would ask, and enjoyed watching football and rodeo on television.

Joe was the embodiment of a “man’s man;” big, strong, hard-working, and always quick to help others in need. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, who was both cowboy and trucker. Blessed with a joking, easy personality, Joe never met a stranger he couldn’t talk to, and was quick to make himself known at the local truck stops. Morning coffee with “the guys” was a daily ritual, but Joe’s most precious moments were times spent with family, especially the grandkids.

Joe is survived by his wife of 49 years, Rosalie Looney Duff; three sons, Rick of Boise, Idaho, Billy of Burns and Mike (Carissa) of Kuna, Idaho; daughter, Bonnie (Robert) of Fruitland, Idaho; 11 grandchildren, Emylee, Tila, Austin, Devon, Danielle, Carl, Christian, Joshua, Bryson, Keira and Brianna; and brothers, Gregg (Kathy) of Salem and Phil (Glena) of Caldwell, Idaho.

He was preceded in death by his parents, A.M. and Evelyn Duff of Boise, and daughter, Carla Duff.

OBIT—WebbMichael Aaron Webb, 18, of Burns, passed away Oct. 28.

Michael was born Feb. 10, 1996, in Apple Valley, Calif., the second youngest of six children. Michael lived in Medford for the first few years of his life before the family moved to Burns in 2004, where his father became the pastor of the First Pentecostal Church.

He was home schooled for a majority of the time, however, his senior year of high school was spent attending Burns High School. Michael loved video games, listening to music, playing basketball and much more. However, he loved his family and friends more than anything.

Michael is survived by his parents, Mark and Maria Webb of Burns; brothers, Dean and Matthew of Burns, and Nathan of Colorado Springs, Colo.; sister, Terrynn Cook of Colorado Springs, Colo.; as well as grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, nieces, and many friends.

He was preceded in death by his maternal grandmother, Beatriz Vega; paternal grandfather, Roy Webb; and sister, Brianna Webb.

A funeral service was held Nov. 1 at the Harney County Church of the Nazarene in Hines.

Condolences may be sent to Mark and Maria Webb, 862 N. Egan, Burns, OR 97720.


This is a notice to all our family and friends that Al Bonson passed away Nov. 2. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Harney County Fairgrounds. All are welcome to come celebrate his life with the family.


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