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Catherine Hoopii, 87, a longtime Baker City resident, died Nov. 24, 2006, at St. Elizabeth Care Center where she had lived for the past year.
Catherine’s ready smile and twinkly eyes will be fondly remembered by the staff and residents of Meadowbrook Place where she was its first resident in 1992. Catherine was a very wise women and just a delight to be around; her friends and the staff at Meadowbrook always felt they could talk to her about anything.
A lifetime lover of literature, Catherine’s first project at Meadowbrook was to see to it that she and other residents were not without ready access to books; she set about establishing and managing a library that included a wide variety of large-letter books for those with visual challenges.
She also was the president of the resident council for three years. Her responsibilities as president included organizing the fund-raisers that allowed for the food baskets put together for needy families in the Baker area.
Catherine was born Catherine Eleanor Bach at Mountain Home, Idaho, on Oct. 22, 1919, to Fayette and Edna Bach. During the Great Depression, she lived with her Aunt Hazel Elms at Casper, Wyo., where she graduated from high school.
After graduation, she moved to Governor’s Island, N.Y., to live with her Aunt Blanche Minas, whose husband was soon transferred to Hawaii as an Army physician.
There Catherine met her future husband, Jac Mitchell Benz. They were married in 1939 and became the parents of four daughters.
Catherine lived through the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and remembered vividly the scores of enemy planes streaking over her home before reaching their targets. During the war years, Catherine had first-hand experiences with air-raid drills, bomb shelters and gas masks.
Catherine’s marriage to Jac ended in 1960. She later married Nicholas Hoopii, a native Hawaiian athlete and musician. In 1969, Catherine and Nicholas moved to Baker City where they took up residence on Rose Street. He died in 1974.
“Our mother always had such youthful spirit. She never lost her enthusiasm for life and was always learning new things,” said her oldest daughter, Karen, who treasures the ceramic art her mother created.
“Mother delighted in words and loved crossword puzzles — the tougher the better,” added her youngest daughter, Barbara.
Catherine had a large circle of friends and will be missed for her ready smile, caring advice and generosity of spirit. Despite being severely disabled by arthritis, she was involved in many community projects and loved reading books, bird watching, and a good cribbage game.
She was preceded in death by her two husbands, Jac Benz and Nicholas Hoopii.
Survivors include her four daughters, Karen Scarvie of Los Gatos, Calif., Judith Kocher of Kingman, Ariz., Margaret Myers of Meridian, Miss., and Barbara Curlette of Sacramento, Calif.; 10 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; and three sisters, Frances Shurtleff and Edna Gawith, both of Baker City, and Carol Anderson of Guiderock, Neb.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Baker County Public Library or the library at Meadowbrook Place through Gray’s West & Co., 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, December 15, 2006
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor