Billy E. Lanman, 79, of La Grande died April 4 at the Grande Ronde Hospital. A celebration of his life will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Daniels-Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center. Burial will follow at the Summerville Cemetery. Family members will host friends at a visitation from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at Daniels-Knopp.
Billy was born Nov. 9, 1928, to Ira L. and Hazel F. Lanman at the old Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande. His early life was spent in Summerville on a ranch and later on another ranch on Pumpkin Ridge. He went to school in Pumpkin Ridge and Imbler, graduating from Imbler High School in 1946.
Soon after, he joined the Army and was stationed in Gen. MacArthur’s headquarters in Tokyo. After his honorable discharge he returned home and farmed with his father.
Billy married in 1948 and the couple had five children. In 1979 he married Rita A. Nice and became a stepfather to three more, making that a total of eight children. He loved them all.
He changed professions in 1965 and became involved in real estate. Moving to Eugene, he became a broker with a sales staff.
In 1973, Billy returned to La Grande and had a real estate office and staff. Eventually, he closed the office and returned to farming. After retiring in 1993 he moved to a small acreage on Fruitdale Lane in La Grande.
Billy was an active member and lay reader at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. He joined the Elgin Masonic Lodge in 1954 as well as the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry that same year. He became a member of the Blue Mountain Lodge at North Powder and became a master in 1966. He also served as master of Elgin Lodge in 1986. Billy was coronated a 33rd degree Mason in 1989. In 2002, he received what he considered his highest earthly reward – the Hiram Award.
He served as a member of the Grand Lodge Registration Committee and later became chairman and served for more than 20 years. He was appointed a Grand Lodge officer three times. He also belonged to the York Rite of Freemasonry, the Royal Order of Scotland, Al Kader Shrine and the Union County Shrine Club. He was also a member of the American Legion.
While ranching in the North Powder area he was chairman of the North Powder Water District for many years and from that term, the Wolf Creek and Pilcher Creek reservoirs were developed. He was a member of the Grande Ronde Water District, a director on the Union County Conservation Board and a director on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
Billy loved to hunt, fish and grow things – always keeping a large garden. Those who knew him say he especially loved his kids and grandkids.
Survivors include his wife, Rita, of Island City; children and their spouses, Robert and Judi of Pendleton, William “Mark” and Peggy of La Grande, Mike and Vicki of La Grande, Chris Asla of La Grande and Cindy and Bob Weber of La Grande; stepchildren, Steve and his wife, Susan Nice, of Portland, Ken Nice of Montana and Linda Belock of Olympia; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; sister, Arla Bingaman of Imbler; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Oregon Scottish Rite Clinics for Childhood Language Disorders, 1507 SW Morrison St., Portland 97205.
The Observer, Obituaries for the week ending April 12, 2008