Baker City, Oregon
Barbara Ann Sturgill, 82, of Baker City, died June 20, 2004, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.
Her funeral service will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 2130 Second St. The Rev. Dick Toll of Milwaukie will officiate. Interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery. There will be a reception afterward at the church.
Visitations will be from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday at Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave.
Barbara was born to L.D. and Neva Chidsey Clabough on Aug. 12, 1921, at Heppner. She moved with her mother, Neva, and her sister, Dorothy, to Baker City in 1927 when she was 6 years old. She has been a continuous resident of Baker County until her death. She was assimilated into the McCord pioneering family legacy when her mother married Robert McCord in 1932.
Her teen-age years were marked with her characteristic qualities of independence, strong will, exuberance, compassion and tremendous energy. She was active in sports, school activities and summer fun. She often championed the underdog and social misfit, and often exhibited a streak of roguish behavior in the form of prankish, but harmless, practical jokes.
Her headlong charge into life was slowed a bit when, at age 19, she was stricken with the dreaded crippling poliomyelitis. The disease left all her muscles paralyzed from the waist down.
After two years of almost constant hospitalization, surgeries and treatment in Portland, she was released, with her physician’s dire predictions she would never walk again, would never be able to bear children and would, in effect, be restricted to a comparatively sedentary lifestyle.
Through sheer grit and determination, Barbara defied all the odds. With the aid of leg braces, laced corseting of her upper body, and a cane for balance, she did learn to “walk” again, swinging her legs by using her upper body muscles. Eventually over the years, she was forced to use two canes, then crutches and finally a wheelchair and electric cart. For the last year and a half she was confined to bed, first at home, then at the St. Elizabeth Health Care Center where she finished out her days.
She married returned World War II Navy veteran Kenneth W. Sturgill on April 21, 1946, in Baker City. She subsequently bore and nurtured two sons, often relying on her far-reaching cane or well- trained dog, Fawn, to retrieve active little boys when they were sure they had outfoxed their mother.
She was an active farm wife, during the first year of marriage sometimes cooking for as many as 16 hay hands, all before electricity or indoor plumbing were installed.
Life became a little more convenient when the family moved into a modest, electrically wired and plumbed house in Baker City in 1952. More convenient, maybe, but only encouraging her to become more involved in family, neighborhood and community affairs.
She actively supported the World War II effort by serving as a volunteer in the local United Service Organizations. She communicated regularly with local servicemen abroad, keeping them apprised of happenings on the home front.
She worked as a secretary to the appeals panel of the local Draft Board. She was an active and creative Cub Scout den mother and helped organize and support PTA, Little League and Babe Ruth.
She was an advocate and strong supporter of all sports and school extracurricular activities. She was a tireless and dedicated 4-H worker in numerous ways, for both her own sons and a multitude of other participants. She either organized or solicited funds for yearly fund-raisers of the National Polio Foundation, Cancer Society and American Heart Association.
She served as a Sunday school teacher and in other positions in her church, was a longtime working member of the popular Me ‘N’ You dinner/dance club and was active in Lady Elks and CattleWomen for many years.
She unselfishly served as “physician,” “counselor,” and “second mother” to many, feeling free to chip in with some homespun advice, whether solicited or not, but fondly recalled and appreciated in the recipient’s later years.
In addition to nurturing her own family, she often baby-sat the children of friends and neighbors, with or without pay. Periodically, she worked outside the home for KBKR radio station, Leo Adler Magazine Distributors and Realtor Lyle Laeger.
Survivors include her husband of 58 years, Kenneth W. Sturgill; sons, Blair, and his wife, Carolyn, of Roseburg and Robert and his wife, Peggy, of Fort Worth, Texas; sisters and their husbands, Dorothy, and Melvin Durgan of Baker City, Shirley and Robert Clemens of Salem, and Sharon and Joe Hindman of Pullman, Wash.; a brother, Oliver McCord, and his wife, Kay, of Cheney, Wash.; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family members.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Stephens Episcopal Church or to the charity of one’s choice through Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel, P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, June 25, 2004
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor