Baker City, Oregon
Robert Ralph “Bob” Wooters, 85, of Baker City, died March 6, 2007, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.
There will be a celebration of his life at 1 p.m. Friday at Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave. Bishop Ernest Collard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will officiate. Interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery, weather permitting.
Bob was born May 30, 1921, at the family dry farm home near the Dundy County Seat of Benkleman, Neb., to Edward J. and Bertha Iris Brissenden Wooters. He was the youngest of five children. He had three brothers and one sister.
As a product of a Nebraska dry farm during the Great Depression, Bob was well-acquainted with hardship and depravation. In spite of it, or perhaps because of it, he lived and loved life to the fullest, his family said. He worked hard and played hard.
At the age of 15, after his father died and his older brothers had left home, Bob and his mother assumed the daunting responsibility of operating the dust bowl, Depression-ridden dry farm. He continued his schooling, Grades 1-12, in the tiny hamlet of nearby Parks, Neb., graduating from high school in 1939.
Shortly after graduation, his mother sold the farm and both set out to make their separate ways in the more verdant West. Bob found employment working cattle and breaking “rough-string” (horses) at prominent ranches at Emmett and Challis, Idaho. He received only room and board as compensation for the first few months.
After World War II broke out, he joined the U.S. Navy. He served for four years, most of which were spent aboard the USS Hancock in the Pacific. After the war, he returned to the Salmon River Country in Idaho. There he met and married the love of his life, Dorthy Miles Wooters.
The first eight years of married life were spent pioneering in an Idaho mining town where Bob was employed, first as a hard-rock miner and then as transportation foreman in charge of all moving equipment. While there they built their first house, doing most of the work themselves. Even more momentous events during that period were the birth of their two sons, Michael Robert and Patrick Lyle.
Desiring more than the impermanence of a mining town environment in which to rear their sons, in 1955 the couple set out on what was for them an even riskier venture: “a small business of their own in some small, quiet, stable town in close proximity to mountains and running streams,” his family said.
They chose Baker City in which to sink their roots and establish the Wooters Tire Service business. Backing up their dream with a whole lot of hard work and determination, the family carved a niche among the accepting and reciprocal people of their adopted Baker County.
Bob was an active member of the Baker Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Baker County Chamber of Commerce, which he served as president for one year. He was a life member of the Baker Elks Lodge, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and an active participant in numerous community projects and events. He was the Baker County Chamber of Commerce Legacy Man of the Year in 2000. The award dinner included a “gotcha moment” that included his entire family.
Survivors include his wife, Dorthy; his two sons, Michael, and his wife, Linda, of Salem, and Patrick and his wife, Susan, of Federal Way, Wash.; grandsons, Brandon, and his wife, Tara, of Portland, Tyson of Salem, Bryon and his wife, Agniezka, of Walla Walla, Wash.; a granddaughter, Jennifer Ann of Yakima, Wash.; and two very special great-granddaughters, Athena and Alexis; a sister, Wilma Dyke of Arlington, Va.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Sumpter Valley Railroad, YMCA youth programs or to a charity of one’s choice through Gray’s West & Co., 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, March 9, 2007
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor