Luana Marie Dillman-Van Vleck, 77, died Aug. 24, 2004, at Holy Rosary Hospital in Ontario, where she had been hospitalized the past few days for flu-like symptoms.
Luana will be remembered in the Baker City and Halfway areas as Luana Dillman, and the mother of Walt Dillman Jr., Sammy (Nancy Dillman) Mercer, Lonnie Dillman and Dock Dillman.
Luana’s graveside memorial service will be Monday at 11 a.m. at Pine Haven Cemetery in Halfway. Pastor Bill Shields of the Pine Valley Presbyterian Church will officiate. Interment will follow the services.
Luana, the daughter of Dock and Armilda Baze, was born Sept. 19, 1926, in the Grandview-Sunnyside area of Washington state. She was the fourth of nine children. She was raised in the Horse Heaven Hills near Prosser, Wash., and she boasted to her grandchildren how she rode with her father to wrangle wild horses for trade.
“That’s how daddy made his living,” she said. “We’d wrangle the wild ponies in, break them and sell them.”
She would laugh and say she didn’t even know how to cook when she married her husband, Walt, whom she called daddy, as she would rather ride than do household chores.
They were married Oct. 7, 1942, at Prosser. Luana was 16, and they were married for 54 years.
As a young girl Luana would participate in rodeos as a trick rider. Even after marrying, she still participated in the sport as well as running barrels and doing other arena events. Her favorite of all was the racing circuit. She and Walt worked together as owner/trainer and won many races during their time.
The couple moved to Halfway in 1961. However, in 1964 they lost their home to a fire, which forced them to move. Walt Sr., being an experienced miner, started following construction which ultimately moved them to Washington, D.C., where he worked in the tunnels and Luana enjoyed living in a large plantation house. She enjoyed telling about the servant quarters and various other rooms of the old home, and talking about its history.
Luana had a variety of roles in her life. She was a skilled welder in the shipyards during the war. Mostly she worked as a commercial truck driver, which often took her cross country. All four of her children took up the truck-driving trade, but only Lonnie and Sammy remain in the occupation. When all else failed, you would find her either serving food or cooking in a restaurant. It’s only been the last few years that she actually slowed enough to enjoy her retirement years.
Luana is survived by her husband, Everett Van Vleck, whom she married in Reno, Nev., on Oct. 19, 2002; her sons and daughters-in-law, Walt Jr. and Ronda Dillman of Halfway; Lonnie and Marie Dillman of Baker City; Dock and Cynthia Dillman of Baker City and their daughter, Sammy “Nancy” Mercer of Emmett, Idaho; brothers, Calvin Baze of Spokane, Wash., Fred Baze of Marina del Rey, Calif., Rolland Baze and his wife, Helen, of Pasco, Wash., and Floyd Baze and his wife, Sandra, of Christmas Valley; a sister, Cheryl Baze Robinette and her husband, Earl, of Halfway; 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren; one great-great grandchild; and numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews and cousins.
Luana was preceded in death by her parents; her first husband, Walt Sr.; a second husband, Richard Weeks; a grandson, Jeff Dillman; a sister, Helen Marler; and two brothers, Courtney and Bill Baze.
Contributions in Luana’s memory may be directed to Hells Canyon Junior Rodeo Association or a charity of your choice. This may be done through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, August 27, 2004
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor