North Powder, Oregon
North Powder native Vivian Clare McGrath Davis, 100, of Spokane and formerly of North Powder and Union, died Jan. 2 at her home in Spokane. A graveside funeral service will begin at 1 p.m. Friday at the North Powder Cemetery. Thornhill Valley Funeral home in Spokane is handling arrangements.
Vivian was born Sept. 28, 1907, to Walter Vincent and Leila Marquerite Gardner McGrath in North Powder. She lived there for 72 years.
Being a natural musician, she played drums and piano in the family quartet at dances in Union and Baker counties. Prior to the 1940s, the group consisted of her brother Kenneth on saxophone, her mother on piano and her father on trombone. During the 1920s, Vivian would play piano for silent films in North Powder and Haines, making $1.50 a week, 75 cents in each town.
When she could no longer read the music, Vivian could play more than 100 songs from memory. She played a few days a week before the evening meal at Rose Point Assisted Living Facility.
While staying with her maternal grandparents at the Columbia Mine near Sumpter, Vivian became very ill with appendicitis and was rushed to Baker’s St. Elizabeth Hospital. Since her appendix had ruptured, the doctors did not have high hopes for her survival but performed the operation anyway, which saved her life.
When Vivian was 13, her father decided to move the family to Union to help on the family farm, but her mother did not like Union very much. They moved back to North Powder a year later. Vivian’s father, a coal dealer, served as mayor of North Powder for more than 35 years. Davis is the descendant of two pioneer families in Union and Baker counties, those of her grandparents, Patrick and Mary McGrath and Alfred and Ida Sisley Gardner.
On Sept. 12, 1925, Vivian married William Ernest Davis at St. Francis De Sales Catholic Cathedral in Baker and they made their home on the John W. Davis ranch four miles west of North Powder. They lived on the ranch until 1937 when they purchased what was originally Sanders Ranch from their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Holmes.
She loved the outdoors and worked with her husband and in later years her son, William F. Davis, on the family ranch harvesting the hay, working the cattle and enjoying gardening and canning. She was a talented cook and would prepare amazing meals for her family and the crew that helped on the ranch.
Vivian joined the Powder Valley Chapter No. 170 Order of Easter Star on May 15, 1948, and served as Worthy Matron for two years (1974-75 and 1975-76) and later transferred to the Alpine Chapter in 1978. She was mother adviser for the Rainbow Girls for three years and also worked on the election board in North Powder for several years.
Vivian had been a resident at Rose Point Assisted Living in Spokane for 28 years. She taught the aerobics class “fitness and fun over 50” three times a week for 18 years until 2005 when she fell and broke her hip. When her eyesight permitted, Vivian made a latch hook rug for each of her grandchildren.
Surviving family members include four children, Betty Jean and her husband, Kenneth Myers of McMinnville, Jeannette and her husband, Robert Kellar of Colorado Springs, Colo., Jessie Lou Cox of Spokane, and William Fred and his wife, Marilee Davis of Nampa, Idaho; and numerous grand, great-grand and great-great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by an infant son, Walter John Davis; her husband, William E. Davis; brother, Kenneth and his wife, Chris McGrath; sister, Maxine and her husband Russell Williams; and son-in-law, Edward Cox.
La Grande Observer – Obituaries For The Week Ending January 12, 2008 – Published Jan. 8, 2008