Remembering Dad . . .
He was conceived on a ship and born in a land far, far away a long, long
time ago. Theodore Smithwick Flaiz was born to Jennie and Theodore Flaiz
in Bangalore, India, September 23, 1920. It was a land of British
Colonialism, of tigers and leopards and cobra, of nights spent hunting
from a machon in the trees of the jungle. His first language was Telegue,
an Indian dialect. He grew up playing with the children of the local Raja
and Rani. One of the games they played was to dress-up in the royal
clothing and and put on jewels including emeralds the size of a walnut.
His was not an ordinary beginning and the life he lived, so long and so
well, was as unconventional as were its early beginnings. He and his
family which grew to include younger sister, Mary June, lived in India
until Dad was 12.
Dad completed his high school and pre-dental college work at LaSierra
Academy and College in Southern California where his Father was in Medical
School at Loma Linda University.
Dad attended dental school at Oregon Health Sciences University graduating
in 1944. He was immediately drafted into active service in the US Army
serving in the Philippines and was among the first troops to land in Japan
after the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Scary times indeed|
During Dads school years in Portland he met a nursing student who
became our Mom, Phyllis Evelyn Cox. He and Mom were married almost 65
years until her death in February, 2009. Following his time in the Army he
returned to the Portland area to practice dentistry. By 1950 they were the
parents of three children, Douglas, Glenda (Underhill) and Richard.
In 1952 Dad was once again called to active service during the Korean War.
He was stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas. After his discharge in 1953 our
family moved to Prineville, Oregon and called that home for the next 18
In 1971 the Seventh-day Adventist Church asked Mom and Dad to accept a
mission assignment to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. That was where their last
child was added to our family when they learned to love Selas Tecki. They
lived in Addis until the Emperor, Haile Salasi was over-thrown. Their home
was close enough to the palace they could hear the Emperors lions
during the night and heard clearly the final shelling and take-over of the
From Ethiopia it was Tanzania, then the Caribbean serving on the Islands
of Granada and Barbados. They came home permanently in 1989 but
after his retirement Dad worked anywhere from 2 week to 12 month
stints in 30+ countries all told, including; Cameroon, Bangladesh,
Djibouti, Saipan, St Kitts, Madagascar, Palau, Russia, several Central
American countries, Fiji, Guam and many more. Mom was able to go with him
on many of these assignments and it gave them both joy to serve.
Between his overseas assignments he worked in a Dental van on a volunteer
basis. He also worked at the prison in Pendleton and anywhere else that
could put him to work and keep him busy. He involuntarily gave up his
dental license at the ripe old age of 92. And then, a couple of years
after losing his dental license the State added insult to injury and told
him he couldn’t drive anymore. That loss of personal freedom cost him
dearly. He hated being dependent to get around and he could no longer take
his random, scenic routes all over the State.
At age 95 he moved to Guardian Angel Homes and resided there until his
death on August 14. He and his stories will be missed by many.
A Celebration of life will be held at 11:00 A.M. Friday November 29, 2019 at the First Christian Church (775 W. Highland Avenue Hermiston, Oregon).. Burns Mortuary of Hermiston is in care of arrangements.
To leave an online condolence for the family please go to www.burnsmortuaryhermiston.com
To send flowers to Theodore's family, please visit our floral section.