Baker City, Oregon
Eva E. Dickerson, 85, of Baker City died Feb. 22, 2003, at St. Elizabeth Health Services after a short illness.
Recitation of the rosary will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, First and Church streets. The Rev. Robert C. Irwin will celebrate. Interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery. Visitations will be Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the funeral home. There will be luncheon in the basement of the Cathedral after the service, provided by St. Francis Altar Society.
Mrs. Dickerson was born at Hereford on Sept. 30, 1917, to Henry Lance Koontz and Orpha Lucretia Willey Koontz. She was the fourth child of the family, joining a sister, Mary Ferne, and brothers, Clifford and Leslie. Her childhood was spent on the family farm at Hereford, which had been homesteaded by her grandfather, Orlando Chester Koontz in the late 1800s.
Both brothers were taken by illness at the age of 18, leaving her and sisters, Ferne and Colleen (born in 1925) as the “ranch hands.” They worked side by side with their parents, Lance and Orpha, to keep the ranch going.
After a brief move to Cascade, Idaho, during the Depression, where Lance and the boys worked in the Eccles Lumber Mill and Orpha baked pies for a local boarding house, the family returned to the ranch in 1930.
Eva attended her junior year of high school at Grant High School in Portland, then returned to graduate with her longtime class friends from Hereford Union High School in 1935. In November of that year, she married Thomas J. Higgins Jr., son of Baker City doctor, Thomas Sr., and wife, Maud.
They had four children: Nancy (1937), Mary Jo (1940), Mike (1941) and Richard (1944). Tragedy again touched Eva’s life in June 1944, when Tommy was struck and killed by lightning while irrigating their farm ground. Left with four children between the ages of 6 and three months, a high school education, and no formal job training, Eva, through her family support group and a lot of determination, moved her small family to Baker City. In 1946, she met and married James Dickerson. She and Jimmy had four children: Kay (1947), Don (1950), Pat (1952) and Percy (1960). In addition to this family of eight, Eva and Jimmy helped raise Jimmy’s two children, Judy (1940) and Bill (1943).
Hereford was the magnet that kept drawing Eva back in those days, to live and to raise her children. After short stays in Baker City, Caldwell, Idaho, and John Day, the family moved back to Hereford in 1949.
After the partial shutdown of Ellingson Lumber Co. at Unity in 1959, Eva and Jimmy and the five children who were still at home relocated to Baker City, where Jimmy continued his employment with Ellingson’s until retiring in 1976.
He and Eva worked to develop their newly started Amway business. They met new friends, traveled (especially on an airplane, for Eva!) and they thrived on this experience.
After Jimmy’s sudden death in October 1983, Eva continued her involvement with her Amway group and her bowling group, while residing in the home she and Jimmy bought in 1978.
With the responsibility of caring for that home becoming more of a burden, Eva decided to move to an apartment, now owned by a niece, Mary Lou, and husband, Alex Sackos, in 1997. With the loving care and assistance of her sister, Colleen, she was able to live in her apartment until her death.
Eva will be remembered by her family and friends as a positive, up-beat person who, in spite of life’s challenges and stresses, continued to look for the good in each person and each situation. Through her determination and persistence, she provided opportunities for her children to grow up in a close-to-ideal situation, first in Hereford, then in Baker City.
She had the knack of knowing when to be a firm guide and when to back away and give her kids room to grow and learn from their own experience, which resulted in a family of children and grandchildren with the self-confidence to choose their own paths.
Her love of the outdoors was passed on to her children, in the form of an appreciation for and respect of nature, a legacy she was extremely pleased and proud to pass down to her offspring.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her brothers, Clifford and Leslie; sister, Ferne Anderson; husbands, Tommy Higgins and Jimmy Dickerson; and her grandsons Jeremiah Dickerson, Donny and Mark Curtiss.
Survivors include her sister, Colleen Jones of Baker City; children, Nancy and her husband, Alan Endicott, of Pendleton, Mary Jo Higgins and her husband, Bob Kowing, of John Day, Mike Higgins and his wife, Donna, of Halfway, Dick Higgins of Baker City, Kay and her husband, Vernon Nakada, of Ontario, Don Dickerson and his wife, Dorothy, of 100 Mile House, British Columbia, Pat Dickerson and his wife, Jill, of Jacksonville, and Percy Dickerson and his partner, Leslie Maiwald, of Baker City; stepchildren Judy and her husband, Bill Blevins, of La Grande, and Bill Dickerson and his wife, Tami, of Boise; sister-in-law, Mary Ann Slocum of Portland; an aunt, Erma Cole of Hillsboro; 30 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, Eva could best be honored by planting a tree or a rose bush in her memory, by taking a walk in the buttercup-covered hills, by putting up a bird feeder, or by thinking good thoughts of her on your next picnic. Buttercups were one of her favorite wildflowers as they emerged from the snow-covered, sagebrush hills around Hereford in the spring.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Francis Cathedral’s music ministry through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, Oregon 97814.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, February 28, 2003
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor