Zora E. Retherford, 97, passed away Sept. 10 at Ashley Manor.
Zora was born Dec. 18, 1916, in Banks to Joseph Lloyd Berry and Harriet Margaret Aydelott Berry.
Zora was the oldest of six children born to Joseph and Harriet, and she also had a half-brother that was older.
Zora grew up in the Willamette Valley, and as a child, worked in hop yards, peach orchards, and always helped with big vegetable gardens grown by her parents to feed their family. Even though they lived through the depression, they never felt deprived.
Zora attended Hopville grade school and finished eighth grade with the highest state average in Polk County, 97 percent. Zora graduated from Independence High School in 1935 as the valedictorian of her class. Zora received a state scholarship to Oregon State College and graduated in 1939 from the school of home economics with a bachelor of science degree. Her first teaching certificate was for junior high, high school and junior college. Zora loved school and would have gone to school all her life if she could have. She attended summer school and took correspondent courses to advance her teaching certificate.
Zora took her first teaching job in the fall of 1939 at Crane. Being from the green Willamette Valley, when she arrived in Crane she thought she’d died and gone to hell, the sagebrush and dust just about did her in, and her nose dripped for the next 75 years. Zora soon fell in love with the people in Harney County, and was glad to call it home.
Zora married Kenneth W. Retherford June 10, 1940 in Crane, and they were married 50-plus years. They had three children, Linda May, Kenneth Dale and Susan Gail.
Zora taught school for 24 years. She taught in Crane, Perrydale, John Day and Burns. While in Perrydale, she started the first school lunch program and it was very successful. In her career as a teacher, she taught home economics, science, girls P.E., world history, geography, typing I, bookkeeping, English, and fifth and sixth grade classes. One of her favorite classes was boys home economics in junior high. During her teaching career, Zora was also active in many organizations: BPW (Business and Professional Women), OEA (Oregon Education Association), Delta Kappa Gamma, 4-H, Brownies, and taught FHA (Future Homemakers of America).
After retiring, Zora and husband, Ken, traveled a lot. They went on a cruise to Alaska, they went to Hawaii, they were snowbirds in the winter months, going to Mexico and Arizona in their motor home. They also went to Oklahoma, where Ken’s family was from. That was Ken’s last trip, as he passed away in 1991.
After Ken’s passing, Zora wanted to return to the Willamette Valley to spend time with her brothers and sisters. So, Zora moved into a mobile home park in Monmouth, where her two sisters lived. They had a great time together for the next seven or eight years. When they had also passed, Zora wanted to return home to Harney County for the rest of her years.
Zora moved into The Aspens, but soon became bored. She needed dirt to dig in. Everywhere Zora lived was always covered with flowers and gardens. There was no dirt to dig in or plant anything at The Aspens. In 2000, at the age of 84, Zora and her daughter, Sue, bought a 102-year-old house on the hill by the library. For the next eight to nine years, Zora enjoyed fixing up the beautiful house and yard. In 2001, she received the beautification award from the Sunrise Garden Club. There was a lot of work done on the house and yard, but it was very rewarding and fun for Zora. At the age of 90-plus, there was a party to celebrate the house work (the upstairs had finally been finished after 109 years), and an early birthday for Zora.
Zora enjoyed the house and yard, but her dementia was taking its toll, so she had to move to Dutch Apple. She was there a year or so and they closed, so she then moved to Ashley Manor, where she lived until her passing.
Zora loved her family most of all, and spent a lot of time with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Zora is survived by son, Kenneth, and wife, Randy; daughter, Sue, and husband, Tiny; brother, Larry, and wife, Jan; grandchildren, J.D. Tschunko, and wife, Lisa, Michelle Tye and husband, Steve, Sheree Retherford, Crystal Fretwell and husband, Kenny; great-grandchildren, Caden Tschunko, Amber and Stevie Tye, Jordie Collingwood, Ledger Tye, Hailey Vinson, Leland and Naomi Fretwell; and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Harriet; half-brother, Lionel; sisters, Ella and Marilyn; brothers, George and Dale; husband, Kenneth; and daughter, Linda.
A Celebration of Life for Zora was held Saturday, Sept. 27. Donations in her memory may be made to the Sunrise Garden Club.