Our father was born on February 21, 1927 in Maxville, OR and passed into heaven on October 17, 2018 at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston. Dad lived a long and prosperous life, and a life of service. Service to his family, service to his community, service to his church, and service to his God.
At five years of age, he met the love of his life, Erma Stubblefield. They went through school together and worked at the local newspaper. Eventually they were married in Nampa, ID 1950. Dad graduated from Eastern Oregon College and embarked on a career in education that spanned 34 years. In Elgin, OR he was principal and taught 8th grade. If that wasn’t enough, he also worked at the local sawmill and managed the local skating rink/fast food business. In those days, we knew nearly everyone in town. Grandparents were only a few blocks away; our Uncle Jack was chief of police, other aunts and uncles were close by. Dad was very close to his father Lacey and we spent many days in his orchard, learning how to milk a cow and eating green apples. We were all blessed with an idyllic childhood in Elgin.
In 1960, our family packed up and moved to Hermiston, the “big city” of 4,400. After teaching at Sunset Elementary for 2 years, Dad became the first principal of Rocky Heights Elementary school. We lived on Jennie Avenue for 5 years and established many lifelong friendships. In fact, when our family first arrived at the new home, there was a 6-year-old Mexican lad waiting on our porch, Willie Vasquez. He became our lifelong friend and honorary brother. We could walk anywhere we needed go. Life was simple and sweet back then. No internet, very little TV and yet we got together and had great times playing baseball, or roaming around town. Playing along with the Beatles with our rubber-band guitars. Great stuff.
Dad was strict with us growing up, but always showed great wisdom. However, he was a gentle soul who could not bring himself to spank his kids. Luckily, Mom did very well at discipline! On the rare occasion Dad tried to spank us, we would only laugh. He always had a great sense of humor, and as we got older, showed more of his devious side. Our family later moved to a large home on East Highland Ave. One summer day, we were all sitting in our dark basement watching reruns of “Dark Shadows”. Knowing that Willie was afraid of vampires, Dad snuck around the back of the couch and grabbed his shoulder, yelling “AHHHHHH!!!” Poor Willie nearly jumped out of his skin! The home on East Highland was huge, and everyone had their own bedroom. The basement had a bar, there was a pool table, ping-pong table, piano, a great place to entertain friends.
Later, Dad worked in the office of the Superintendent for a few years, and then became the first principal of Highland Hills Elementary before retiring in 1983. Mom and Dad kept busy with genealogy research and travel. Over the next few years, they traced the family roots back to 1700 in Virginia. The drove their motor home all over the country and made trips to Alaska, Hawaii, Europe and Israel. The family grew and prospered. Mom and Dad had 52 years marriage and countless beautiful memories and happy times together with their family and friends.
Dad was preceded in death by his beloved wife Erma, daughter Elizabeth, daughter-in-law Tracee and grandson Harrison. He is survived by his daughter Susan Brooks, son-in-law Charlie Grabeel, son Gary (Janet), son David (Lori) and daughter Lori Royer (Chuck). He is also survived by 19 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild.
He was a cherished member of the First United Methodist Church and special thanks go to the entire congregation for their love and support through the years. Special thanks also to Avamere assisted living and the kindness of their staff while he was there.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”
2 Timothy 4:7
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 10:00 A.M. at the First United Methodist Church, 191 E. Gladys Ave., Hermiston, Oregon.
Burial will be at the Hermiston Cemetery, Hermiston, Oregon.
Please sign the online condolence book at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon is in care of arrangements.