We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Burns Mortuary of Hermiston
Verla Jean Scott Zielke
The angels rejoiced August 30, 2022 when Verla Jean Zielke ascended into Heaven. Though she will be deeply missed by her family and friends, she is reunited with her beloved husband Fred Zielke and her parents, Herschel and Lillie Scott.
Verla Jean was born to Herschel and Lillie Scott on Valentine’s Day February 14, 1926 in Wallowa, Oregon. A country birth, she was delivered in the home of mid-wife Annie Thompson, who was assisted by Dr. J.B. Gregory. When Verla was born Calvin Coolidge was President, life expectancy was 54 years, gas was 12 cents a gallon and new cars cost $360!
Her first home was called the “Fisher Place” 8 miles from Wallowa. When Verla Jean was 6 years old her family bought the Hill Ranch in Wallowa County and this is where Verla lived for the next 12 years. She attended a one-room school house called Willow Springs from kindergarten through 8th grade. This school was without running water, electricity, or an indoor bathroom. (Water for the school was carried from a spring ¼ mile away!) She walked or rode her favorite horse, Peaches, 2 ½ miles to school.
During summers Verla Jean often stayed with her Aunt Mary and Uncle Ercel Richmond at Troy Oregon. She loved staying with them as they had no children of their own and she was like their daughter. During one of the summer visits the Richmond’s house burned to the ground and all of Verla Jean’s newly made school dresses burned up with it!
Verla attended Wallowa High School from 1939 until her graduation in 1943. While attending high school, she and her brothers Melvin and Don often boarded in the town of Wallowa during the winters because the snow was too deep to navigate the road home.
Verla Jean attended Wallowa Christian Church from the time she was a child and was baptized September 15,1939. After Sunday church the family often enjoyed a picnic lunch in the Wallowa Canyon by the stone water fountain. This was one of Verla Jean’s favorite places.
Verla Jean met the love of her life, Fred Zielke, during high school. Fred left for the Navy shortly after graduation while Verla enrolled in Victor’s Beauty School in Walla Walla, Washington. After the war ended and Verla Jean graduated from beauty school, they married at the Wallowa Christian Church June 16th, 1946.
The newlyweds moved to Portland so Fred could attend Multnomah College. Verla Jean’s dad took the young couple to Portland in the old farm truck packed with jars of canned chicken, canned fruit, wedding presents and Verla’s hope chest, which was completely full of personal belongings. It was an adventure, as that old farm truck got four flat tires during the trip which required the purchase of 4 new tires!
Verla Jean worked a variety of jobs while Fred worked and attended school. Their first daughter Frances was born in 1948 at Legacy Emanuel Hospital.
Next the couple moved to Corvallis where Fred continued his education while Verla Jean started her first beauty shop at Adair Village. Their daughter Jerelyn was born in 1951 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis. After graduation the young family moved to Stanfield Oregon for Fred to start the first Industrial Arts program at the Hermiston Junior High School while Verla was busy with two little girls and a third on the way. Jennafred was born in Enterprise Oregon in 1952, which meant they now had three little ones under 4 years old. Needless to say, Verla Jean put her hair styling career on hold for several years to stay home with her babies.
The family moved to Hermiston in August 1953. Verla was hired at “U-Need-A-Beauty Shop.” She thought this was a cleaver name however, this employment lasted one year. Moving up the career ladder, Verla Jean was hired at Jewel’s Beauty Shop where she worked full time until starting her own salon that Fred built in their new home on Highland Ave.
A unique job that Verla Jean was honored to do involved Burn’s Mortuary. Yes, you guessed it, creating the final hair-do of many dearly departed friends and family. The first call from Burn’s Mortuary came in 1956 and she continued to provide this special service until 2021 at the age of 95 years. Over the years Ken Huber, the funeral director, formed a friendship with Verla Jean. He would pick-up Verla Jean, and take her to the mortuary and on various errands around town. The Zielke kids refer to Ken as “our brother from another mother”.
Fred and Verla Jean welcomed their son Scott in 1959; born at Good Shepherd Hospital. They had many discussions on what to name a boy. They settled on Scott after Verla Jean’s maiden name and James after Fred’s middle name. Their family was now complete.
Verla Jean was the “original gamer” which brings wicked and cutthroat to mind: Bridge, Pinnacle, and double Solitaire. She spent hours playing cards with her grandkids: Racko, Uno, Yahtzee, Old Maids, and their favorite, Spite and Malice. Her grandkids loved her heart and soul. She loved her grandkids unconditionally and gave great advice when asked. She was very proud to have been a great-great grandmother.
Verla Jean loved gardening, especially her roses, but it was a constant battle with puncture weeds, sandburs, and cheatgrass. She always maintained beautiful gardens and she loved her flowers very much. Verla Jean was accomplished at flower arranging and often won blue ribbons at the Umatilla County Fair. She enjoyed sewing, machine embroidery, crafting and designing her much loved hand painted ornaments, which she gave to her 10 grandkids every Christmas. Verla Jean was a prolific writer. She not only wrote numerous cards of encouragement to those in need but actually wrote a memoir of her first 25 years that was published 2004. The Zielke’s had many fun family summer vacations and after retirement they bought a motorhome and traveled the United States. Verla also traveled to Hawaii several times and to Europe twice with grandkids.
Verla Jean was a member of The First Christian Church, Beta Sigma Phi, PEO, and Garden Club (Bloomer Girls). She also was a longtime volunteer with Hospice. She was devoted to her church, serving as a deaconess, Sunday school teacher, choir member, church camp counselor, sanctuary florist and a Sunday morning greeter. Verla Jean continued her ministry of greeting others at Avamere where she spent the last year and a half of her life.
Fred and Verla were married 66 years until he passed away March 2013. Verla Jean is survived by daughters Fran (Mike) Hayden, Jerelyn (Bruce) Russell, Jenny Kellstrom, and son Scott (Kelly) Zielke. Grandchildren Chelsee (Sean) Rohan, Levi (Joanna) Hayden, Rod (Bre) Russell, Dana (Michael) Johnson, Casey (Jacki) Russell, Lyndsee (Geoffrey) Wunn, Annie (Jesse) Davidson, Samantha Zielke, Herschel (Crystal) Zielke, Cate (Sean) Hodgson. In addition she is survived by 27 great grandkids, 4 great-great grandkids, nieces Kim Sines, Vicqui Hook, Terri Tye, Tanya Kinser, and nephew Dennis Scott and sister-in-law Nyoda Scott and Verla Jean’s faithful dog, Scooter. Verla was preceded in death by her husband Fred Zielke, parents Herschel and Lillie Scott, her brothers Melvin and Don Scott, sister-in-law Virginia Scott, and son-in-law Scott Kellstrom. Verla Jean will be deeply missed by her family.
Verla Jean’s service will be held at the First Christian Church, Hermiston OR, September 23 2022 at 11am followed by a reception. Her interment will follow at 3pm at the Hermiston Cemetery. Contributions in Verla’s name may be made to Vange John Memorial Hospice Education fund or PEO chapter DR Education fund. The family of Verla Jean thanks Avamere, Vange John Hospice, and Geneva House for the loving care they showed to Verla Jean during the final years of her life.
Please share memories of Verla Jean with her family at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon is in care of arrangements.