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Jay H. Stanley, 95, hillbilly, cowboy, bachelor and hero, died early November 9 at Danielle’s Adult Foster Care home in Tigard, OR.
Mr. Stanley was born February 2, 1906 in a log cabin 3-mi south of Joseph, OR. Jay, the second son of Charles and Elsie (Beecher) Stanley, whose parents were both early pioneer families in Indian Valley. Jay and his brother Jabez helped their father on the 500-acre ranch. When he was in his teens Jay helped saw the lumber and build the big house. In 1923, he assisted his father and brother JB saw lumber for the current lodge located at the south end of Wallowa Lake.
During the winter of 1925-6, a group of Joseph-ites was skating on the lake when one of the Dawson boys fell through the ice. Jay was nearby and rushed to his aid. The ice was thin, wouldn’t hold Jay, so he removed his trousers and tied them onto a long tree branch, lay down on the ice, and shoved the trousers toward the boy. He grabbed Jay’s trousers and with help was able to pull himself from the hole. Jay walked back into Joseph wearing only a coat and long johns!
In 1928, Jay purchased a 70-acre ranch on the upper Imnaha River at Neil Creek just a mile downstream from the mouth of Summit Creek. There he built a one-room cabin that he has enlarged over the years. During various periods from 1928-1992, Jay worked not only his ranch but, for several ranchers up and down the river including assisting with building the Imnaha Christian Fellowship Church. One of those early years, Jay was working for Ralph Barton, (at the mouth of Summit Creek) on the Imnaha River. It was a heavy snow winter, Ralph sent Jay up, and over into the Snake River basin on a pair of homemade fir skis, to check on wintering cattle. The ski trip only took three days total, one way!
During WWII Jay served in the European Theater with Battery B in the 74th Field Artillery unit as cook and rifleman. He landed in LeHarve, France and went from there through Belgium into Germany. His unit was just outside of Berlin when the cease-fire came and they greeted and celebrated with Russian soldiers.
After the war, Jay entered a machinist school in San Diego, CA. After finishing school, he returned to Imnaha and began to expand and modernize his cabin and update his ranch. During this period, he hired out to locals as carpenter, field hand, and cowboy-ing.
In 1955 Jay returned to California to help his sister Reba and her husband, Cline Powers operate a large dairy in National City, CA. He worked there until 1965 as handyman, carpenter and delivery driver before returning to his beloved Imnaha canyon and little cabin on the river.
Mr. Stanley is survived by: A sister Reba Powers of National City, CA, Nephew James and his wife Arlene Stanley of Beaverton, OR, Great Nephew Greg Stanley of Beaverton, OR and Great Niece Gail Stanley of San Rafael, CA
A memorial service in Beaverton and a graveside memorial at Prairie Creek Cemetery will be announced later.
Remembrances may be made to the Imnaha Christian Church, your local Hospice or charity of your choice.
Contributed by Jim Stanley