Obituary – Juanita Mary Hale Proctor May 22, 1929 – March 10, 2023
Juanita Mary Hale Proctor passed peacefully on March 10, 2023 at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston, Oregon at the age of 93. Juanita, better known as Nita was born an identical twin May 22, 1929 in Heppner, Oregon to Vier and Mary (Hirl) Hale.
Nita spent her early years on a 3500-acre ranch outside of Heppner in McDonald Canyon where she was raised with her twin sister, Margaret, her mother, Mary Hale, her Uncle Charlie Hirl, and her Irish grandparents, Phil and Mary Hirl. On the ranch, the family raised sheep, a few cows, pigs, and grew a huge garden that provided an abundance of food for canning. They also grew and harvested wheat with horse drawn combines of which Nita and her sister helped gather. Growing up in the canyon provided for a wonderful life.
Nita’s first seven years of education were attending a one room school house in McDonald Canyon until she later moved to Heppner where she graduated with the class of 1947. During those summers in Heppner, both Nita and her sister worked at the local laundromat downtown beside their mom, Mary.
After graduation, Nita and her extended family sold the ranch in the canyon and moved to Hermiston where they opened and ran a small restaurant, “The Bluebirds”. It was there at the Bluebirds where Nita met the love of her life, Leroy, “Rocky” Proctor and the couple was married March 6, 1950.
Nita and Rocky made their first home in Umatilla at the Shady Rest Trailer Park and soon thereafter moved their trailer to their newly leased service station, The Flying A. At The Flying A, Rocky worked as a mechanic while Nita pumped gas and operated the station.
Then in 1952, Nita and Rocky’s first child, Clarence Leroy was born. At that time, the young couple decided to make a move from their home at the station to a newer one outside of Umatilla on Hwy 730.
Later in 1953, they added daughter, Patricia Ann and gave up the lease on the Flying A to take on a new adventure with the purchase of the Phillips 66 station.
After a few years, they added a third child, Phillip Michael and that was when the couple made their move to an 80 acre farm outside of Irrigon. At their new home, the Proctors took on new challenges of milking cows, raising chickens, and later beef cattle to sell for profit while adding a fourth child, Mary Ann in 1958. During those years, Rocky worked road construction until he eventually ended up at the Umatilla Army Depot while Nita continued to work at the farm. Nita loved a challenge and knew how to make ends meet, so this was the perfect fit for their growing family.
Finally in 1960, their youngest child, Theresa Ann was born. And during that year, the Proctors made their final move to a home just down the road. The new home provided 80 more acres where they lived until their retirement years raising cattle and ranching along with many hours spent roping and riding in the “Barking Dog Rodeo Arena” with family and friends. Nita had a passion for team roping and was well known for her double hock swing where she tied on hard and fast. She could also barrel race with the best of them and loved a fast horse. She was quite the cowgirl and won many buckles and awards throughout the years.
Nita was well known for her kindness, ability to bake, her generosity to her neighbors, her passion for animals (especially dogs and horses), and her work ethic. She was one of a kind and loved her life on the farm with both her children and many grandchildren.
Nita was a member of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church, a Lifetime member of the Umatilla Sage Riders, past Chaperone for the Morrow County Rodeo Court, and a member of both the American Quarter Horse Association and the Northwest Old Timers Rodeo Association. Nita was also one of the founding members of the Hermiston Area Barrel Racing Association (HABRA) later known as the Greater Columbia Barrel Racing Association (GCBRA).
Nita is survived by her four children, Patricia (Karl) Smith of Boardman, Phillip Michael (Kay) Proctor of Heppner, Mary Ann (Barry) Munkers of Lexington, and Theresa Proctor-Reece of Boardman. She is also survived by ten grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Leroy “Rocky” Proctor, her son, Clarence Leroy Proctor, her twin sister, Margaret Bunten Pieper, her son-in-law, Lester Steven Reece, a granddaughter, Rebecca Smith, her father, Vier Frank Hale, and mother, Mary Ella Hirl Hale.
A graveside service will be held on March 16 at 1 pm at the Irrigon Cemetery followed by a celebration of life at the Senior Center.
Anyone wishing to make memorial contributions may make them to Fanconi Anemia Research Foundation, 360 E 10th Ave Suite 201, Eugene, OR 97401, www.fanconi.org.
Please share memories of Juanita with her family at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon is in care of arrangements.
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