Ethel M. Wirth, 89, a longtime Eagle Valley and Baker City resident, died Aug. 27, 2001, at the Aspen Assisted Living Center in Hines.
Her memorial service will be Friday at 1 p.m. at Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave. Pastor Roger Scovil of the Baker City Christian Church will conduct the memorial service, and Associate Pastor Bob Whiteman will conduct the graveside services at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Mrs. Wirth was born April 3, 1912, at Halfway to John W. and Jessie Shook Mills. She was raised on a farm on Pine Creek, above Jimtown. She graduated from Pine Valley High School.
She married Bert D. Wirth at Keating on April 6, 1935. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1985. Mr. Wirth died Jan. 1, 1995. They would have celebrated 65 years of marriage in April of that year.
Mrs. Wirth was raised on a farm. She and her husband lived on a homestead in the Medical Springs area when they were first married, later moving to a ranch in the same area. With the exception of a year living at Carson, before they bought their farm on Eagle Creek above New Bridge, she spent most of her life on a farm. She liked seeing things grow, bountiful vegetables, beautiful flowers, and fruit. It was hard work, living on a farm, but Mrs. Wirth was never afraid of hard work.
During her kids growing-up years, Mrs. Wirth was matron of the New Bridge Junior Grange, in order to give her children that opportunity. She was a member of the New Bridge Grange for years, until she moved to Baker City. She was a longtime member of the Christian churches at Richland, Baker City and, more recently, Burns.
Mrs. Wirth was a dedicated wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and she treasured each of them. She was proud of all her grandchildren and loved their spouses equally. She enjoyed family get-togethers and loved to visit. Her children valued their opportunity to grow up on a farm in a small community. They learned early on valuable moral responsibilities, as well as developing a strong work ethic that has carried them through their adult years. The kids even had a swimmin’ hole in Eagle Creek where they and their mom had many a happy summer afternoon splashing in the water.
Mrs. Wirth lived an uncompromising moral life. She was a person of honesty and integrity. She accepted what she needed to do and did not complain, but rather, made the very best of it. She was a woman respected and loved by all, most especially by her family.
After the Wirths’ “retirement,” they moved to Baker City, where they took a yard that was chest-high in weeds and turned it into a picture-perfect landscape of green lawn, roses, other flowers and a garden. This was surrounded by a white picket fence that she and her husband created together. She helped her husband with carpentry work, doing remodeling and building for others. This at an age long past the customary retirement age.
When they were forced to give up the carpentering because of Mr. Wirth’s failing eyesight, Mrs. Wirth started yet another career: being a foster grandparent volunteer in Baker City schools for 10 years. There she listened to classes of little kindergartners and first-graders read. This was the job she was destined for: she blossomed and so did the children. She loved the teachers and school staff, and they loved her. But most of all she loved the kids and they loved “Mrs. Wirth.” That job was her pride and joy, and truly made her days.
Later the Wirths moved into an apartment, where she continued to live until health forced her to move to Burns to live near her daughter. One would have thought that she would have been content to finally retire, but she quickly found another niche as a volunteer at the Christian Church Thrift Store. That job filled her Fridays and gave her once again a purpose in life and something to look forward to. She last helped out just two weeks prior to her death.
Mrs. Wirth finally had to adjust to one more change in her life: moving to assisted living. It was hard to give up her sense of independence, but she said, “I made up my mind to be happy and I am going to be happy!” The staff and other tenants loved her, and she loved them.
Mrs. Wirth is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Virginia and Richard Tabor of Burns; sons and daughters-in-law, Wayne and Deannie Wirth of Mead, Wash., Phillip and Ellen Wirth of Tacoma, Wash., and David and Bobbie Wirth of Anchorage; daughter and son-in-law, Sharon and Ken Anderson of Lake Stevens, Wash.; 12 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren; a sister, Lucy Cook of Keating; a sister-in-law, Glenola Wirth of Baker City; and numerous nieces and nephews. She loved all of her family very much.
She was preceded in death by her mother and father, her sister, Mary Snyder, and her husband.
Contributions in Mrs. Wirth’s memory may be made to the Baker City Christian Church of the Aspen Assisted Living Center in care of Gray’s West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, Ore., 97814.
Used with permission from: The Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, August 31, 2001
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor