Raymond F. Angell 1952-2015

Posted on December 30th in Obituaries


OBIT Angell WEBRaymond F. Angell, 63, passed away Dec. 21 in Burns.

Ray Angell was born July 10, 1952, in Liberal, Kan., to Janet Kathleen and Raymond Chadwick Angell. He grew up in Kansas, meeting his high school sweetheart, Sheila Gillespie. They met and married in Gove, Kan.

Ray went to Kansas State University for his bachelor of science and master’s degrees. The couple’s oldest, Jonathan Ross, was born in Bryan/College Station, Texas, January 1982, while Ray received his doctorate in range science from Texas A&M. After finishing school, Ray went to work for the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center as a rangeland scientist. He retired in July 2015.

In the summer of 1986, Ray and Sheila brought home twins, Chad Nelson and Kelsi Rae, to their 4-year-old brother. Ray and Sheila raised the three children in Burns, who all graduated from Burns High School. Jonathan went into the Navy, and the twins finished schooling in the Portland metro area.

Ray took great pleasure in spending time with his family. Camping, hunting, fishing, and ham radio were a few of his hobbies. But maintaining their 1901 Victorian home, and fixing up his children’s three homes, made him the best jack-of-all-trades.

Ray and his family attended Pioneer Presbyterian Church ever since they first moved to Burns in 1982. Since most family remains in Kansas, the church community has become their family.

Ray is survived by his mother, Janet; brother, Scott Angell of Kansas; wife, Sheila; children, Jonathan and Kelsi of Gresham, and Chad of Molalla; and eight grandchildren, Joshua, Elizabeth, Michael, Emily, Samuel, Mackenzie, Lucas and Esther.

He was preceded in death by his father, R. Chad Angell.

Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at a later date at Pioneer Presbyterian Church in Burns.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Pioneer Presbyterian Church.

Gordon Keith Choate 1947-2015

Posted on December 30th in Obituaries


OBIT Choate WEBGordon Keith Choate, 68, passed away Dec. 15 at St. Charles Hospital in Bend, surrounded by his family.

Gordon was born July 22, 1947, in Burns. He was the second of five children born to John and Ima Choate. Gordon grew up in Burns with his family, and later graduated from Burns Union High School in 1965. After high school, he worked in the lumber industry as a mill worker and logger until 1985, when he moved to Redmond to attend Central Oregon Community College (COCC) in Bend. After graduating from COCC, Gordon worked as a substance abuse counselor for almost 10 years, assisting individuals through the difficult phases of recovery. In 1995, Gordon began his adventure as a self-employed business owner, dabbling in various business ventures that included owning Country Pleasures Antiques in downtown Redmond, buying and selling real estate, and his latest endeavor of running an online auction website. Gordon lived his life with zest and grit, touching many along the way. He was a self proclaimed “mountain man” who found solace in the outdoors, spending much of his time hunting or backpacking with friends and family.

Gordon is survived by his daughters, Debbie George, Dawn Choate-Combs, Becky Winters, and Melissa Church-Roberts; grandchildren,  Tyler George, Hannah George, Brooks Morgan, Nicole Morgan, Austin Wilson, Bree Porfily, Logan Porfily, and Lucas Roberts; great-grandchild, Dakota Worman; and siblings, Tom Choate, Jerry Choate, and Sharyn Ochoa.

A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m., Jan. 9, at Redmond Grange, 707 SW Kalama Ave. in Redmond. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Autumn Funerals in Redmond, 541-504-9485, www.autumnfunerals.net.

Should friends desire, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to family at 1473 SW Canyon Drive, Redmond, Oregon, 97756.


OBIT RobirtsbwAlta Rose Robirts (Schmidt) passed away Dec. 19, marking the end of life’s long journey for the granddaughter of two of Harney County’s earliest pioneers. Her grandparents, Samuel and Willamina  King, came to the basin in 1884. They established a homestead north of Burns at what came to be known as Thousand Springs Ranch. Her parents, B. Frank and Catherine King, were also lifelong residents, continuing with the ranch, as well as establishing a presence in Hines, with King Avenue being named after them.

Rose, as she was affectionately called, was born Sept. 23, 1924. Learning the meaning of hard work at the ranch, and many other places throughout the county, became a characteristic she displayed throughout her life. At the age of 90, her family would watch her bake her special lemon pies and prepare other items. When asked what she was up to, she answered it was part of her going to the senior center to “help out the old people”.

Rose married Frank W. Schmidt, and the two soon acquired the beginnings of a ranch in the area known as Potter Swamp. It became known as Rimrock Ranch. They had four children while together, Duane, Sandee, Jerry, and Frank. The family went on to include 23 grandchildren, and innumerable great- and great-great-grandchildren.

Rose and Frank eventually sold the ranch in1968. They later divorced, after which she married Jim Robirts of Harney County. They remained together until Jim’s death in 2001.

Almost any parents living in Harney County who gave birth to children at the Harney District Hospital from the 60s through most of the 90s have most assuredly crossed paths with Rose. She worked at the hospital for 35 years, almost all of which was spent in obstetrics. She would occasionally remark that she has probably held a good third of the current residents in her arms at on time or another. She was loved by most all that knew her, and will be sorely missed by friends and family.

A funeral service for Rose will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 24, at the Burns Christian Church. Please, no flowers. If you would like to make a donation to the Harney County Food Bank in her name, that would be so appropriate, as Rose never allowed anyone who wandered close to her home to go away hungry. Come help friends and family wish her well as she moves on to a new journey.

Death notice — Leroy Wion

Posted on December 23rd in Obituaries

Leroy Wion, 74, passed away Nov. 26 at Pioneer Place in Vale. A full obituary will follow at a later date.

Francis Norman Sitz 1917-2015

Posted on December 16th in Obituaries


OBIT Sitz WEBFrancis Norman Sitz, 98, passed away Dec. 9 in Boise, Idaho.

F. Norman Sitz was born May 24, 1917, in Drewsey to John Lewis and Georgia Sitz. He grew up working hard on the family ranch. When the Great Depression came and his father died, he and his siblings worked years to pay off the ranch debt.

He herded sheep every summer near Strawberry Mountain, ran a trap line before school in the winter, and shared all the chores of a cattle ranch. He graduated from Burns High School at age 15, then continued ranching and trapping.

He managed to buy a Piper Cub, which he flew all over Eastern Oregon, and he often landed in the sagebrush to make urgent repairs before taking off again.

He went to Oregon State University, studying agriculture, but quit after a year, saying he already knew how to raise chickens.

He worked for the Harney County extension agency, then later joined the Army officer training program just before WWII. He was at the top of his Fort Lewis graduating class in the IQ test and obstacle course, and was offered a position on General Eisenhower’s staff upon graduation, but instead chose to stay with his men from Kentucky and Tennessee in the 959th Artillery of the 19th Army.

He landed on Omaha Beach June 24, 1944, and led his “Long Tom” self-propelled howitzer 110s for 800 miles through France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. They were often behind enemy lines, as they supported the infantry and dueled with the deadly German 88 artillery. He directed the first Allied artillery fired into German soil, and was decorated for winning a duel with 10 German guns against his three. He was a “mayor” of a large area in Germany after the Armistice.

He returned to Harney County and married Ellen Catterson. In 1947, they honeymooned by taking a jeep and trailer up the Alcan Highway, and settled in Anchorage, Ala., where he built their log cabin and worked as a carpenter. After Ellen said she was leaving the “!!#**#! cold,” they returned to Harney County, and he began his lifelong career as a cattleman, first in Burns, then in Ontario. At various times, he owned and/or managed the sale yards in Weiser, Idaho, Ontario, and Baker. The Ontario Livestock Commission Company had the 10th largest volume of cattle sales in the U.S. during the years he managed it.

He lived in the era of cattlemen who did million-dollar deals on a handshake, and every man’s word was good. He was a shrewd cattleman, known for his honesty and integrity. Every evening, his phone rang constantly with ranchers seeking advice. He had a soft spot for ranch hands/cowboys down on their luck and helped out hundreds over his career.

He was also an unbeatable card player and won so consistently that he was politely banned from many local card games. He started his career as a cattleman by playing poker in a local game for several days until he made enough to buy his first herd.

Norman and Ellen raised four children in Ontario, and he taught some of them how to stealthily catch trout in small desert and mountain streams. He semi-retired in the 1970s, and began successfully trading in cattle futures for many years.

He took up golf, despite his feeling that the grass could be better used for raising cattle. Although he had the worst golf swing in history, he gradually managed to get down to a single-digit handicap. He also drove the mail truck on his route from Ontario to Drewsey.

Ellen passed away in 2003. Norman lived at his home until the very last. Because of severe eyesight problems and other age-related issues, he was wonderfully cared for during the last 13 years by his daughter, Nancy/Yasha.

Norman remained mentally sharp and was enthusiastic about being alive every day. He continued to be a master of the daily Jumble.

He died from complications of an elbow fracture sustained on his daily walk.

Norman is survived by his daughters, Nancy/Yasha Sitz of Boise, and Laura Williams of Juntura; sons, John Sitz of Ontario, and Dr. Norman Sitz of Pendleton; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral and graveside services were held Dec. 12 in Ontario. Remembrances may be sent to the family at www.lienkaemperthomason.com


OBIT Jones WEBDavid Sullivan Jones passed away peacefully in his sleep at the Veterans Hospital in Portland Saturday, Dec 5, with family by his side.

David was born June 6, 1935, the middle child of 12 children born to Jesse J. Jones and Dora J. Jones (Yarbor). He was the last of the kids to be born in Burns, as the family moved to Merlin, near Grants Pass. As a teen boy in those days, he helped on the homestead and worked in the hop fields along the river. He was drafted into the Army during the Korean War, and spent two years in Korea as a heavy equipment operator in the 7th Infantry 13 Engineer Battalion, stationed at Camp Casey Korea.

After returning home, he met Dorothy L. Hurst (Hodges), a widowed mother of two, Judy and Jack. They were married in 1961. David made a living for the family in the vast lumber industry and raising horses. In July of 1961, their first child together, Denise Sue, joined the family. In 1965, David and Dorothy lost a son after birth. In 1967, the family moved from Wolf Creek to the Merlin area, where David worked for Kabax Lumber in Cave Junction.  In April of 1970, David and Dorothy had a son, Kelly Lou. David was an avid horseman, which involved his children and all who were around him. David was also a hunter, and hunting every year was his gift. He could find elk, deer, or bear anywhere!

David is survived by his step-daughter, Judy Jones and husband, Kim of Blaine, Wash.; daughter, Denise Goguen and husband, Dave of Grants Pass; son, Kelly Jones and wife, Lori of Heppner; grandchildren, Brandi Haycraft of Grants Pass, Heather Sciurba of Klamath Falls, Bailey and Courtney Jones of Lewiston, Idaho; and great-grandchildren, Logan, Landon and Amelia. David is also survived by brother, Jay M. Jones; and sisters, Marian Eggers of Grants Pass and Clarice (Tyke) Boatman of Hermiston.

David was preceded in death by his mother and father; four brothers; four sisters; stepson, Jack (Melvin L. Hurst); and Jack’s mother, Dorothy.

A memorial service for Clyde Wensenk will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, in the Memorial Building at the Harney County Fairgrounds. Everyone is invited and encouraged to come. We look forward to bringing together the many people who were touched by the life of Clyde and celebrating his memory.

Merle “Stocky” Stockwell, 94, of John Day passed away Dec. 13 at the Blue Mountain Hospital. A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at the St. Andrew’s Cemetery in Canyon City. A reception will follow the service at the Snaffle Bit Dinner House.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Seneca School Foundation or the Blue Mountain Hospital Foundation through Driskill Memorial Chapel, 241 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day, OR 97845.

Luisa Goirigolzarri 1925-2015

Posted on December 9th in Obituaries

OBIT LuisaLuisa went quietly in her sleep to her eternal rest with The Father on Thanksgiving night, Nov. 26, 2015.

She was born on Aug. 10, 1925, to Juan Jose and Geronima (Bilbao) Elorriaga in rural Berango, Vizcaya, Spain. She was the sixth of seven children born into the family.

When her mother became ill and bedridden, she and her sisters, although very young, took on all of the household’s responsibilities for the family, while their father and brothers handled the cultivating, planting and harvesting what the family farm would grow as well as tending the livestock. After her mother recovered from her extended illness, Luisa joined in with the farm work, as well as wherever she was needed. These were chores while she attended school and became routine work when she ended her formal education at the age of 10. Her drive and ability to work tirelessly, and the skills she learned at a very early age, would serve her well for the rest of her long life.

In May of 1950, she married Benigno (Beni) Goirigolzarri. Their first son, Juan Jose, was born the following year. As the young family built a new home on the Elorriaga farm, the repressive legal system under the Franco dictatorship came into their home. His former employer, a wealthy aristocrat, accused Beni of robbery. Despite no evidence nor investigation, he was thrown into prison. Eventually, the real culprit was found, and Beni was released from prison. But the damage had been done.

The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, and Beni was captured that summer. He survived the executions of his fellow prisoners, the starvation and disease of Franco’s labor camps, and the imprisonment until the end of World War II. But the dictatorial oppression continued long after. He needed to leave Spain.

In 1954, Beni got on a list to come to the U.S. to heard sheep.  Despite Luisa’s pregnancy, the one-time opportunity required him to leave for an unknown region called Oregon. Their second son, Javier, was born three weeks later. Luisa and her two young sons rejoined the household of her parents and waited for Beni’s return. By 1961, Beni had become a U.S. citizen, worked his way into better paying and secure jobs, and saved enough money to reestablish a comfortable lifestyle for his family in Spain. The family was reunited that summer.  But Spain remained in the grips of a dictatorship and still not much better than a third world country. He saw and convinced Luisa that America was a better place for the family and would provide so many more opportunities for their sons.

In the fall of 1961, they said good bye to Spain and all of their extended family. They arrived in Seneca in November. Unable to speak any English and unfamiliar with the customs and traditions of their new home, Luisa faced many challenges. But the small community of Seneca gave her a warm welcome. Indeed, the cards and well wishes from the ladies that gathered at her welcoming coffee were still stored with all of her other memorabilia.

The electric range and refrigerator/freezer, toaster and other amenities were delightful appliances she had never known. But nothing matched the convenience of the wash machine, particularly given Beni’s work in the wet, muddy, cold forests as a logger.

When the long, cold winter of Seneca finally turned to spring, Luisa began gathering flowers and plants to surround their home with color. Most of the back yard became a vegetable garden. But Seneca was not Vizcaya, and some of the early flower and vegetable plantings failed due to the cold, with killing frost regularly striking well into June.

But she persevered, adjusted and learned, including how to read, write and speak her new language. The family adopted the customs and traditions of their new home, but the traditions and language of the old country were kept alive. Spanish and Basque were always spoken. And the kitchen of their home was always filled with the foods she had learned to prepare as a child, all of the recipes memorized, nothing in writing. By 1967, with the help of a teacher and friend, she had mastered English well enough, studied the history and Constitution of her new home, and stood for the test to become a citizen of the United States. One of her most proud occasions, she passed the test and gained citizenship for herself and her two sons.  Once again, the community of Seneca gathered around her in celebration, welcoming its newest citizen.

The mountains and forests within view of their home quickly became the favored places to spend weekends camping, picnicking and gathering.  The forests and the streams provided, not only recreation, but fish, mushrooms, meat, and huckleberries to eat and wood to heat the home during the long, cold seasons. Soon after Beni retired, they moved to Burns in order to be closer to the grocery store, medical facilities, a longer growing season, less snow and eventually the Senior Center. Since Luisa never learned to drive, a home within walking distance from all those things and the Catholic Church were important. She soon made it their home, surrounded by flowers, a huge garden in the back yard, and fruit trees.

She always said she did not enjoy cooking. But she took great pleasure in feeding people that enjoyed her food, especially her grandsons. There was never a shortage of food, and if there was a picky eater present, a desirable substitute was always prepared. She loved all of those boys. If there was a concert, sporting event, or ceremony that they were involved in during her visit, she was there. Freezing cold weather, hard bleachers, noisy gyms, hot summer ball fields, none of that deterred her from cheering them on until it was over.

Luisa is survived by her son, Javier (Karen)  and grandsons, Ben and Alex of Roseburg; grandson, Juan (Dawn) and great-grandson, Javier of Puyallup, Wash.; brother, Blas Elloriaga; and sister, Isabel Larandugoitia, of Spain; and many nieces and nephews in Spain.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Benigno; son, Juan Jose; grandson, Nicholas; her parents; brothers, Esteban and Raymundo; a newborn child; and her sister, Mari.

Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 19, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Burns. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Harney County Senior Center, P.O. Box 728, Burns, OR 97720.

Tommy Joseph Swisher 1935-2015

Posted on December 9th in Obituaries


OBIT SwisherTommy Joseph Swisher, 80, of Monroe, formerly of Jordan Valley and Burns, passed away Nov. 29 at Samaritan Evergreen Hospice House in Albany.

He was born Feb. 9, 1935, in Nampa, Idaho, to Joseph and Ruth (Peer) Swisher.

Tommy graduated from Jordan Valley High School in 1953. In November of 1953, he joined the U.S. Army.  On the way to Ford Ord, Calif., where he was to be stationed, Tommy married Amalia “Molly” Arritola at the Catholic Church in Winnemucca, Nev., on Sept. 16, 1954.

After his honorable discharge, he returned to Jordan Valley. He went to work for the state highway department, and Tommy and Molly lived at the Basque Maintenance Camp for eight-and-a-half years before being transferred to Burns. Tommy retired in 1991, and soon thereafter moved to Monroe, where he had lived since.

He was a true cowboy.

Tommy is survived by his wife, Molly, of Monroe; daughter, Angie Maplethorpe and her husband, Dave, of Hillsboro; son, Brian Swisher and his wife, Luann, of Millersburg; granddaughter, Kimberly Maplethorpe and her husband, Broc Foster, of Jacksonville, Fla; great-grandchildren, Vivian and Theodore Foster; and brother-in-law, Pasco Arritola and his wife, Judie, of La Grande.

Services will be announced at a later date.

Contributions in Tommy’s memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, sent in care of McHenry Funeral Home, 206 NW 5th St., Corvallis, OR 97330.

Please leave your thoughts and condolences for the family at www.mchenryfuneralhome.com

Whaddya Think?

Which is your favorite Sunday afternoon activity?
  • Watching football (35%)
  • Taking a walk/drive (20%)
  • Napping (18%)
  • Reading (14%)
  • Baking (9%)
  • Playing family games (4%)

85 total vote(s)

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