Hazel Jane Fleet, 90, died March 6, 2005 in La Grande. She was born to Ralph and Lenora Barton on Oct. 26, 1914 in Joseph.
Mrs. Fleet spent her first winter in Hells Canyon at Three Creeks at the old Frank Hiltsley Homestead until her family home was built on Johnson Bar. In 1916 the family moved back to the Imnaha River to their ranch at Grouse Creek and then to a ranch at Summit Creek in the Fall of 1917.
She graduated from the eighth grade at the Park school in 1928. She attended high school in Enterprise and Eugene. After graduation she worked on her parent’s ranch at Summit Creek. She became an avid “horse woman,” which she pursued until her health failed. She ran race horses locally on Imnaha and Wallowa County Fairs, winning her fair share of races.
Mrs. Fleet was princess at the Pendleton Round-Up in 1933. In 1934 she lost her father Ralph Barton and grandfather Mart Hibbs. In 1935 her mother, brother and sister traded ranches with the McGaffee brothers in Hells Canyon where they ran cattle and horses.
In 1936 she married Allen Wilson and the couple worked for Pete Wilson and other ranchers in that area. In 1939 Allen and Hazel and infant son Kim returned to Hells Canyon and worked for Lenora Barton until that fall when they moved onto her father’s homestead at Battle Creek on the Oregon side of the Snake River.
They ran cattle and horses there until they purchased the Hibbs ranch at Granite Creek. She and Mr. Wilson were noted cougar hunters in Hells Canyon and worked part time for the Nez Perce National Forest as packers and fire lookouts at Dry Diggins, Horse Heaven, Heavens Gate, Cold Springs and Hat Point in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
The family worked near Colfax, Wash., one winter, then purchased the old Albert Morgan ranch on the Imnaha where they ran cattle and sheep. Later they returned to the Salmon River country where they worked for the Forest Service at Riggins and Dixie, Idaho.
In 1950 she and Mr. Wilson divorced and she took care of her mother at Riggins until they moved to La Grande. She worked for several people there and became a noted quarter horse raiser.
In 1989 she was named grand marshal of Hells Canyon Mule Days.
She married Duane Fleet and the couple farmed in the Grande Ronde Valley for 24 years until Mr. Fleet’s death in 2004.
Mrs. Fleet is survived by her son Kim Wilson of La Grande; her brother Ace Barton of Riggins, Idaho; her five grandchildren, Donita Watts of La Grande, Candice McGillvary and Todd Wilson of Cove, Taffey Reyes of Phoenix, Ariz., and Ralph Wilson of Cove; and 14 great-grandchildren.
A funeral service was held March 12. Memorials in her name may be given to a charity of choice.
Wallowa County Chieftain, Thursday, March 17, 2005
Contributed by Dixie Ricker
Note: Additional obituary can be found in March 2005 edition of The Observer, LaGrande, Oregon.