Cleone Strand, born Feb. 9, 1925, in Grandview, Idaho, passed peacefully in her sleep May 17 in Las Vegas, Nev. The youngest of six children, she graduated from St. Luke’s School of Nursing in Boise, Idaho. Upon her marriage to Jack Strand of Burns, she began her career as a registered nurse in Burns. From there, she continued her career as an RN in Washington and Hawaii, before retiring in Nevada.

Cleone is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Gaii and Don Creed of Nevada; daughter-in-law, Karen and grandson, Scott Strand of Arnold, Calif.; granddaughter, Kristen and great-granddaughters, Abigail and Nichole Overton of Elk Grove, Calif.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Jack, of 65 years; and son, Max.

As per their request, Cleone and Jack’s ashes have been returned to Harney County.

Misa K. Blackburn, 22, passed away Sunday, June 7, at Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, June 12, at the Burns Elks Lodge No. 1680.

Contributions in Misa’s memory may be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, in care of LaFollette’s Chapel, P.O. Box 488, Burns, OR 97720.


OBIT KnightLeonard L. Knight, 88, passed away May 25 at Harney District Hospital, surrounded by family.

Leonard was the middle child of seven children born in La Grande to James and Matilda (Pfel) Knight. He loved life and made friends with the people he met throughout his life. He attended school through the eighth grade in La Grande. At about that time, World War II began and the family moved to Portland. His ninth grade was divided between Portland’s Jefferson High School and Hood River High School. Leonard enjoyed playing football. He soon saw that those Portland boys did not play in the same way he had been coached in La Grande. He went to Hood River, found a dairy farm, and was hired for room and board and a small wage. He had found a home at school, playing football with a bunch of rough, tough boys.

When he turned 16, he moved back to Portland with his family and went to work at the shipyards where ships were being built for the war with Japan in the South Pacific.

At age 17, his mother signed the paper to allow him to join the Navy. He spent the next two years serving his country aboard the USS Crittenden in the South Pacific. Shipboard food was not to his liking. One day, while standing in the “chow line,” he was heard to say, “If I couldn’t do any better than that, I would hang it up.” He was immediately escorted to the captain’s quarters. He was now one of the ship’s cooks for the balance of his time in the Navy. Leonard had many amusing stories to tell about his cooking experiences aboard ship, but this same experience paved the way to a lifetime of getting up to his elbows in food preparation, whether it was at a hunting campfire, a back yard barbecue, the Senior Center’s kitchen, or the Lions Club fundraisers.

Following his honorable discharge at the end of World War II, Leonard went back to La Grande and worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. It was during his travels, maintaining the railroad’s telephone system, that he met and married Clara Williams, who had two little girls, Virginia, known as Jennie, and Nancy.

Leonard realized he needed more education if he wanted a career with the U.P. Railroad. He took a leave of absence from his job and completed the radio/electric course, graduating in the spring of 1953, and was back to work for the U.P. Railroad for the next 23 years. He kept the telephones working, and later, the microwave system in the northeast corner of Oregon.

In the next eight years, Leslie and Claire joined the family. Leonard was a good and loving father to all his girls. The daughters remember the family outings of fishing, picnics, and picking huckleberries during their years living in La Grande. Leonard and Clara divorced, and his family moved to Portland. He remarried, but that marriage was not to be, and he was divorced again. Within a few years, he renewed a friendship with Mildred Red and they were married at the Yellowjacket Lake cabin in 1976. They lived in their home in Hines until his death.

Leonard was not a shy man. He was active in several organizations. He was a 56-year member of the Elks Lodge, a past president of the Junior Oldtimers (a railroad organization), the La Grande Eagles Club and the Burns Lions Club. He also served on the Harney County Hospital board.

Leonard was the first to cook for the Senior Center. He worked part time and volunteered as needed. He and his job were a good fit, telling a few jokes and visiting with everyone who came to lunch. He made many friends.

Leonard loved the outdoors, but elk hunting was his passion. When elk season rolled around, all else was set aside. He hunted where the elk were, and always brought an elk home.

Leonard is survived by his wife, Mildred; daughters, Leslie Blanchard and Claire Agner; stepdaughters, Jennie Rockwell, Nancy Saltos, Teresa Johnson and Laurie Red, all of Oregon; Stepson, James (Barbara) Red of Henderson, Nev.; nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Loretta and Lois, and their spouses; brothers, Richard, Dewey, Clifford and Albert and their spouses; and son-in-law, Bob Agner.

A celebration of life was held June 1 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Burns. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Burns Lions Scholarship Fund, Peace Lutheran Church, or to the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center, in care of LaFollette’s Chapel, P.O. Box 488, Burns OR 97720.


OBIT NewtonElizabeth Jane Newton, 51, passed away April 13.

She was born Feb. 21, 1964, in Fort Bragg, Calif.

She had aspiration pneumonia three or four times a year. She got it on April 3 and quit eating, so her Aunt Jane put her on comfort care, and she lasted until April 13.

Her Aunt Jane was the conservator guardian for her after her grandfather, Calvin Polston, got cancer. She saw her once a year for her annual meeting around her birthday.

Elizabeth is survived by her mother, Judith Choate; brother, Sam G. Newton Jr.; aunt, Jane Morgan; uncle, Bill Morgan; and several cousins.


OBIT BucknerMichael Edward Buckner, 55, passed away May 23 from complications following surgery to repair a damaged aorta.

Mike was born June 24, 1959, in Oakland, Calif., and grew up in the Salinas area. Although Mabe was Mike’s birth name, as a young man he assumed the last name of Buckner after a family friend who came into his life, had great influence and took on a fatherly roll. Mike set out on his own at age 15, and eventually teamed up with some friends and distant cousins, James and David Mabe. This led them to Nevada and eventually Harney County in 1986.

Mike worked on the Roaring Springs Ranch and in Castle Rock before settling in Burns and opening the U-2 Saddle shop, where he created new saddles and tack, made reproductions of old saddles, and did repairs and restorations. Many original and ornate items came from that shop. It was not unusual to see custom woolies and chaps hanging on the walls or even a full length coyote coat, all awaiting the new owners. His shop sewing machine and some of the tools came from the world famous Visalia Stock Saddle Shop in California, which closed in the 1960s.

Mike became an impassioned member of the Assembly of God Church in Hines under Pastors Lance and Rochelle Lovlin. He strongly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and tried to live by the scripture 2 Timothy 4. He was a member of the Harney County Christian Cowboys, and his shop motto was “Saddle Maker to the Saints.” His shop was a frequent gathering place for buckaroos to hear about a job, or just join in the constant conversation. No one could forget Mike’s chuck wagon operation, and the many Dutch oven meals he prepared for ranch events and gatherings.

The Jordan Valley Big Loop and cowboy camp meetings were a regular gathering place for Mike and so many of his friends. In July 1993, through friends, Shirley and Destry Campbell from Likely, Calif., it was at a camp meeting in Fields on the Defenbaugh Ranch that Mike met the love of his life, Cherie McCarthy from Likely. It was not long before the smitten saddle maker closed up shop in Burns and moved to the Flournoy Ranch in the Jess Valley to marry the ranch cook, Cherie. Then the chuck wagon really thrived! Cherie and Mike moved to Vale in 1996, where they re-established the U-2 Saddle Shop and Mercantile. It was once again a gathering place, and Cherie’s influence in the mercantile had it a wonderful place to find new and old items for sale. Mike also served as an EMT on the Vale ambulance crew.

Tragedy struck their family in the spring of 1998 when Cherie was killed in a single-vehicle accident outside of Vale.  Mike continued on in the business there, continuing to evangelize, and apprentice and train aspiring craftsmen to work with leather and build saddles.  Over the years, Mike added a multitude of friends to his life as he found real family amongst the rendezvous and motorcycle folks. Holidays and special occasions found him included in many family gatherings, all claiming him as their own! He truly hardly knew a stranger.  Mike was a trusted and respected friend of Ken and Kim Gross, and served as a doorman at their V Twin Club in Payette, Idaho, and taught Ken’s stepson, Dakota Pearson, to shoot cannons and muskets. Ken tells of the annual runs they made to California, the Southwest and Northwest.  Mike’s custom purple cycle, with the hand-tooled leather seat and chrome accessories, is a sight to see!  It was not unusual to see him rolling through town with a bedroll on the back.

The filming in Harney County of the 2010 movie, Meeks Cutoff, found Mike as a consultant and supplier of period props for the sets and oxen-drawn covered wagons. Rendezvous friend Jimmy James Joyce said, “We all teased him that the movie was really just advertising for U-2 Saddle Shop & Drygoods in beautiful downtown Vale (at the time). The movie was fun to watch because you could point out all the fun pieces he usually wore himself as well as the great stuff he had for sale in the store!”

The past few years had been a challenge for Mike as he suffered an aortic dissection and was not able to resume the full time shop duties in Vale. He moved to Frenchglen in the winter of 2013 and set up camp on long time friend Malena Konek’s property. Most recently, the U-2 Saddle Shop reappeared in Frenchglen next to Malena’s Frenchglen Mercantile, and Mike was a colorful addition to the main street.

Mike is survived by his brothers, Brian and Kenneth Rogers; and his vast family of friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Cherie; and mother, Joan Rodgers.

A memorial service/celebration service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 13, at the Frenchglen School. Following the service, there will be a potluck gathering at the nearby Page Springs campground.  The meat will be provided, so those who wish to bring a dish might consider a side dish, salad or dessert.


OBIT HolmesLora Burdett-Holmes, 80, passed away April 14, following complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Born Lora Burdett in Burns on August 17, 1934, Lora grew up a cattle rancher’s daughter, where a natural affinity for taking care of animals, and eventually people, developed.  After graduation from Burns Union High School, Lora headed north to Sacred Heart Nursing School in Spokane, Wash.  While working to become an RN, she met her soon-to-be husband, Kjell Holmes, of Stanwood Wash., who was in the Air Force. With her nursing degree in tow, Lora and Kjell were married in 1955, and Lora earned her “PHT” (Put hubby through) by working  at Providence Hospital in Seattle,  Wash., while Kjell worked to get his engineering degree.  Soon, new opportunities in California beckoned, and the two were on their way,  with the first stop in Northern California, where their son, Eric, was born, and she worked at Burlingame General Hospital. A few years later, the family moved to Southern California, where her daughter, Julie, was born, and Lora worked at St. Mary’s Hospital in Long Beach. In 1971, they finally settled down in San Diego, where Lora and Kjell continued to raise the children, and Lora worked part time as a nurse for such great facilities as Scripps Memorial and Casa de Manana. Lora enjoyed spending time with her husband, children and especially her grandsons. Lora loved to read and keep up on current events, she liked watching sports, cooking, and she became a Stephens Minister, where she was specially trained to provide one on one emotional and spiritual care to individuals facing a crisis or difficult situation.

She is survived by her husband, Kjell; son, Eric; daughter, Julie; and three grandsons, Charlie Jr., Nicholas, and Tommy.

A memorial service was held May 20 at Torrey Pines Christian Church. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Parkinson’s Association of San Diego.


Dale Thompson, 74, passed away Thursday, May 28, at his home, surrounded by family.

Dale was born Feb. 28, 1941.

He retired from the optical business and moved with his wife from Troutdale to Burns in January 2007.

He loved golf and traveling, and was loved by many people.

Dale is survived by his wife, Louann; son, Dennis Thompson of Camas, Wash.; grandson, Nick Thompson and granddaughter, Aprille Thompson, of Camas, Wash.

The family would like to express their appreciation to Harney County Home Health for their great care and compassion.

No services will be held.


OBIT Dawson WEBCarita C. (Mace) Dawson, 84, a life-long resident of Harney County, passed away May 14.

Carita was born Oct. 30, 1930, in Burns to Clarence and RoseEthel Mace. She was the fifth child of nine kids.

She worked on the family ranch, and was a sheepherder from age 6 until she was 15. She also lived in Wagontire at a young age, which was known as “Mace Flats.”

Carita attended school in Burns. She either walked or rode her horse to school, more than seven miles away.

She ran a buck rake and a four-horse rutter rake at the family ranch.

In September 1950, Carita married Tex Dawson.

Carita was active in 4-H for years. She was a Sunday school teacher at the Assembly of God Church in Burns for more than 50 years. When it shut down, she attended the Nazarene Church until her death. She decorated for many weddings and social events in the community and for various friends and family. Tex and Carita took in numerous foster children throughout the years. They raised hay and ran a few cows. Carita was known for digging up thistles, and keeping the weeds out of their hay field. In two days time, she was known to dig up 1,500 thistles.

She worked at various locations in Burns, including Johnson’s Studio, Gateway Motel and Queen’s Court.

She was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, foster mom, friend and aunt, always trying to help others however she could.

Carita is survived by her husband, Wheeler (Tex) Dawson of Burns; son, Clifford Dawson and his wife, Carol of Burns; daughter, Clarita (Bunny) Barker of Redmond; brother, Fred Mace of Battle Mountain, Nev.; sister, Carlon Haines of Echo; and numerous nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her brothers, Lewis Mace, Pud Mace, Delore Mace and Gene Mace; and sisters, Imogene Reinkemeyer and Carmon Rogers.


OBIT McVay WEBKenneth Lee McVay, 73, long-time Hines resident, passed away peacefully Saturday, May 16, surrounded by his family.

Ken was born Feb. 3, 1942, in Hines to Bert and Verna McVay. His father passed away when he was 8 years old. He and his brother, Lonny McVay, were raised by their stepfather, Elvin Pederson. On July 15, 1972, Ken married the love of his life, Sandy (Smith) McVay. They had an amazing 42 years together. During this time, they raised five children who blessed them with 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

His children are Todd (Dee) McVay of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Lisa (John) Hindman of Redmond, Tory (Yvonne) McVay of Milwaukie, Casey (Amber) Gaines of Roseburg, and Sam (Missy) McVay of Terrebonne.

He was preceded in death by his infant son, Christopher McVay, his son-in-law, Mike Robinson, and his parents.

Ken was an avid outdoorsman. He loved hunting, fishing, camping, sports and spending time with friends and family.  He was well known for his sense of humor, story telling, compassion and big heart.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Ken from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at the city of Hines Pavilion. Family friends, Eric and Tara Woodworth and Derrin and Rachael Robinson, have graciously offered to provide food services.

The family requests donations in Ken’s name be made to the Woodfin/Robinson Memorial Wrestling Tournament, in care of Paula Toney, Burns High School, 1100 Oregon Ave., Burns, OR 97720, or to the Jay Winn Memorial Buckle Classic wrestling tournament, in care of Stacy Puckett, P.O. Box 1425, Hines, OR 97738.

Michael (Mike) Bentz, 51, passed away Thursday, May 14, as a result of a single occupant airplane crash near Juntura.

Recitation of the Holy Rosary will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Burns. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, May 22, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Burns. A luncheon will follow immediately after Mass at the Harney County Fairgrounds. A private family interment will be held in Juntura.

You can go to and sign the online guest book for the family.

Contributions in Mike Bentz’s memory may be made to Young Ranchers Land and Livestock Fund and mailed to LaFollette’s Chapel, P.O. Box 488, Burns, OR 97720.

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