Inez Mary Ausmus died Saturday, March 5, in her home at The Aspens in Hines. She was 99 years and nine months of age.
She was born May 14, 1911, near Hanston, Kan., in Hodgeman County, to Isaac and Pauline NeVore.
Ausmus’ father was an oil-well driller in Oklahoma. Her early childhood was spent in the temporary housing for the families of the drillers. The little wood houses were on skids and when the well was finished, the houses were moved to the next site. The small rural schools could not accommodate the influx of children of these temporary residents so Ausmus and her brother, Alton, were home-schooled by their mother until they moved to Blackwell, Okla., to make a permanent home.
Ausmus entered fifth grade in Blackwell and graduated from Blackwell High School in 1930. She attended Oklahoma College for Women at Chickasha, Okla., where she majored in Latin. She was on the swim team and performed water ballet. After college, she taught school in rural Kansas until her marriage to Henry Ausmus May 1, 1937, in Blackwell, Okla.
In 1938, when her daughter was five months old, Ausmus and her family moved to Harney County where her husband had been born and raised.
They lived in several homes on properties they were later to purchase to make up the ranch where they raised barley, alfalfa and cattle, and made a home for their four children, three and one-half miles east of Burns.
Ausmus loved life. She loved children, people, birds, wildflowers, exploring the county with her children and her mother, fishing, gardening and cooking and was an accomplished seamstress. She sewed her own clothes, her daughter’s clothes and made shirts for her husband and sons. She raised turkeys and chickens, butchered and sold turkeys and chickens, sold eggs, and sent cream to the creameries by train from the depot in Burns. She enjoyed entertaining and many will remember the Christmas open house and the cookies she served on Dec. 24, every year, for years. She collected dishes, tea cups, purpled glass, opalescent milk glass, figurines and more.
Ausmus was involved in church activities at Pioneer Presbyterian Church from the time she first arrived in Harney County. She taught Sunday School, was a leader for the Little Ladies Aid, team taught the adult Bible class with William D. Cramer, Sr., and was elected elder, served on Pioneer session for several terms and was active in the Presbyterian Women’s group. She was a delegate to Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in Denver, Colo., in 1964. Ausmus continued to be active in the church until 1996 when she moved to The Aspens Assisted Living Center in Hines.
Ausmus was involved in many community activities throughout her life. She belonged to Sylvia Rebekah Lodge #43 in Burns and was a past noble grand and a recipient of the Degree of Chivalry, the highest honor the Independent Order of Odd Fellows bestows to Rebekahs. Whether it was visiting the sick or cooking quantity recipes for the St. Patrick’s Luncheon, wherever Rebekahs were at work, she was there.
She belonged to Poison Creek Grange, was active in the Grange’s Home Economics Club, Soroptimist Club, Business and Professional Women and Sagebrush Club.
Ausmus was also on the Burns School District Board of Directors when Slater School was new, and while the Washington and Fillmore schools were built. She served on the library board and was chairman of the Harney County Library Board when the new library was built. She was named Woman of the Year in 1968 at the annual Harney County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.
Ausmus worked with the Girl Scouts, 4-H and the PTA. If children were involved, she was there.
After her own children were grown, she invited the neighborhood children to egg coloring parties at her home at Easter time. After her grandchildren were grown, she invited the neighborhood children to color Easter eggs. She continued to work with youth in the church and as a 4-H leader when she no longer had her own children involved.
She was known for her flower arrangements and for her study of Harney County wildflowers.
Ausmus photographed, identified and prepared a slide show of wildflowers, which she presented to local groups and Oregon Native Plant Society in Portland. The slide show is archived at the Harney County Library.
She was the first resident to move in to an apartment at The Aspens. She continued to be an active participant in life. She kept a scrapbook of staff and residents, which detail the activities at The Aspens for more than 10 years. And she never lost her sense of humor. She kept the staff and other residents laughing with her witty remarks. She reminded her daughter frequently that, “this is a good place for me to be and don’t you ever forget it.” She died peacefully in her home there with her family at her side.
Ausmus is survived by children, Pauline Braymen and husband Allan of rural Burns, James Ausmus and wife Mary of rural Burns, David Ausmus and wife Barbara of Tacoma, Wash., and John Ausmus of Emida, Idaho; grandchildren, Karen Hamlington of Bethel Springs, Tenn., Janet Braymen of Burns, Michael Braymen of Baker City, Shawn Fox of Arkansas, Toni Payne of Tualatin, Henry “Hank” Ausmus of Emida, Idaho, Glenda Carter of Nampa, Idaho, Brenda Ausmus of Boise, Idaho, and Amanda Ausmus of Kuna, Idaho.
She is also survived by great-grandchildren, Kate and Jeremy Hamlington of Tennessee, Tim Payne of Tualatin, Dallas Ausmus of Fort Lewis, Wash., and Aliana, Sean, and Jonathon Fox of Arkansas; nieces and nephews, Phil NeVore and Laveta Reynolds of Oklahoma City, Eileen McVicker of Portland, Standley Ausmus of Gladstone, Louise Watts of Lawen, Kay Lane of Oregon City, Donna Fincher of Summerville, Arlene Harris of Fairfield, Mont., John O’Keeffe of Houston, Texas, and many other relatives.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Henry, in 1991; her parents; brother, Alton; grandson, Daniel Ausmus, also known as Daniel Waterman; nieces Mary Murphy and Margaret Trainer; and daughter-in-law Jerre Ausmus.
Services were held March 12 at Pioneer Presbyterian Church in Burns with interment in the Burns Cemetery. Contributions in Ausmus’ memory may be made to Pioneer Presbyterian Church, or to Harney Pioneer Homes for The Aspens, in care of LaFollette’s Chapel, P.O. Box 488, Burns, OR 97720. LaFollette’s Chapel was in charge of arrangements.