Whitney, Baker County, Oregon
Eugene Vaughan “Gene” Hale, 92, a longtime Baker County resident, died May 31, 2005, at St. Elizabeth Care Center.
His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Friday at Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave. Pastor Roger Scovil of the Christian Church will officiate. Interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery. Visitations will be until 7 o’clock tonight at Gray’s West & Co.
Gene was born on May 20, 1913, at Baker City to John “Sam” Hale and Mallie Mary Vaughan Hale. Gene’s father bought the Whitney ranch in 1903 and went from working in the gold mines to ranching. Sam died in the flu epidemic of 1929.
Gene, with his brother, Piper, and mother, Mallie, continued ranching, first with cattle and later raising sheep. In 1935, the family moved the sheep ranch to Alderdale, Wash. With the outbreak of World War II, they sold the sheep ranch for use as a bombing range.
Gene met and married Charlotte Davis. He and Charlotte returned to Whitney by train with only three cows to their name. They worked long, hard hours and were often isolated due to deep snowfall in the winters.
Gene told how they lost their entire calf crop the first year, so to make ends meet he hauled supplies and mail to Greenhorn by wagon. Their determination and grit paid off and they successfully ranched for another 50 years.
Gene was one of a kind and his passing marks the end of an era. He lived to see ghost towns in their prime and talked fondly of his memories prior to motors, pavement and electricity.
In 1989, the Hales moved to Baker City because of health problems. Life in town was an adjustment. They had to get used to things like electric stoves.
Gene had a big heart and always loved to help animals and people in need. He loved to entertain people by playing his harmonica and was always ready to listen to a good joke. He had a contagious laugh and smile that will be deeply missed by his friends and family.
Gene had three sisters, Myrtle Coleman Hansen of La Grande, Doris Seale of Condon and a baby sister, Mina Marie Hale, who died at the age of 3. He had one brother, Piper Hale of Wapato, Wash. Gene and his brother and sisters went to school at Whitney where they graduated from the eighth grade. They walked the two miles to school all winter, sometimes in 3 feet or more of snow.
Surviving family members include Sam and Doris Seal of Condon, Hamley and Adele Hale of Wapato, Wash., Susan Erickson of Yakima, Wash., Katie Hale of Virginia, John and Mary Hale of Toppenish, Wash., and Elaine Livingston of La Grande.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Humane Society or the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife through Gray’s West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, June 3, 2005
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor