Virgil Albert Choate, 94, of La Grande died Sept. 2 at a local care center. A celebration of life will begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Daniels Chapel of the Valley, 1502 Seventh St.
Burial will follow at the Summerville Cemetery.
Mr. Choate was born July 7, 1910, to Thelbert A. and Mattie Hallgarth Choate on the family farm near Summerville. He attended schools in Elgin, a rural school in the lower Wallowa Valley, Summerville, Imbler and La Grande. He graduated from Imbler High School in 1930 and was one of the first 10 FFA members in Oregon to be awarded the State Farmer Degree.
He won the Union Pacific scholarship to Oregon State College but left school when his father became ill and he had to manage the farm. In 1933 he and his father moved to La Grande and established Choate’s Cigar Store.
He married Louise Wetzel on Aug. 15, 1933, in Pasco, Wash. He worked as a fireman for the Union Pacific Railroad for five years, then became a partner with a brother-in-law in Melville’s Gift Shop. He later sold the cigar store and bought the La Grande Outdoor Supply, which he ran until his retirement. He was a merchant in La Grande for over 45 years.
Mr. Choate was a life member of the Good Sam Club and a charter member of the Tri-Mountain Good Sam chapter; a life member of the Elks Lodge and a member of the Eagles, the Union County Museum, Union County Historical Society, Elgin Historical Society and the Wasco County Museum and Discovery Center. He enjoyed helping people and fed many hungry people. He enjoyed fishing, hunting and RV traveling with his wife.
Survivors include children and their spouses, Virgil L. and Carolyn Choate of The Dalles, and Nancy Christensen of Lebanon; a sister, Genevieve Turner of Beaverton; four grandchildren; several great-grandchildren, other relatives and a special friend, Dick Mason of La Grande. His wife died earlier.
Since he greatly enjoyed history and old photographs, the family suggest memorials be made to the Union County Museum, the Elgin Museum or the Union County Historical Society in care of Daniels Chapel.
La Grande Observer – Obituaries From August 30 – September 4, 2004 – Published: September 10, 2004
Submitted by Dixie Ricker