Mary Kerby, 83, a longtime Baker County resident, died Jan. 20, 2002, at St. Elizabeth Health Care Center.
Visitations will be until 5 p.m. Friday at the Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St. A vigil service will begin at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, First and Church streets. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at the cathedral. The Rev. Robert C. Irwin will celebrate. Vault interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Mary Ann Davis Kerby was born to Edwin and Marcella Davis at the old St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise on Sept. 18, 1918. Until age 11, Mary lived with her parents on the ranch of her grandparents, Thomas Jefferson and Julia Davis, near Boise. The ranch was known as Government Island Ranch.
The Davis home was situated in what was referred to as the Chinese Gardens and later became Garden City, Idaho. The beautiful Julia Davis Park in Boise was built and named in honor of her grandmother.
In 1929, Mary moved with her family to their own ranch at Long Valley near Cascade, Idaho. She rode horseback five miles one way to attend VanWick Elementary School, now covered over with the waters of Cascade Lake.
When she was old enough for high school, she rode horseback six miles one way into Cascade. She graduated from Cascade High in 1936.
Later that year, she married Melvin Cross and the couple moved to Seattle where he was employed. While living in Seattle, two sons were born: Larry and Melvin Jr.
In 1940, the family moved back to Cascade where they lived with his folks on their ranch. The couple eventually divorced and Melvin Sr. later died.
In 1958, she married Frank Morgan Kerby and the family moved to her parents’ Alder Creek ranch in Baker County. Through purchase and inheritance, Frank and Mary became owners of the Davis ranch holdings in addition to other acres in the Alder Creek and Durkee area.
Frank and Mary ranched until 1991, when they retired and moved to Baker City. A few short months later in 1992, Frank died and was buried alongside the couple’s infant son at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Mary became an active Trail Tender volunteer at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center near Baker City, greeting and counting visitors as well as being involved in various other activities. Each year since 1994, she has earned the distinction of membership in the 300 Hour Club, which honors Trail Tender members who have volunteered a minimum of 300 hours in one year. She was named Trail Tender volunteer of the year for 1998.
Along with the late Dr. Bill Kuhl, Mary was instrumental in organizing the VIPs, a Baker City support group for people whose vision is impaired because of macular degeneration. The group still meets monthly.
She was also an active member of St. Francis Diocese and the Ladies Circle of the Catholic Church in Baker City.
She was preceded in death by her parents and grandparents; two sisters, Julia and Marcella; and an infant son, John Gerard Kerby, who died shortly after birth in 1962.
Survivors include her sons, Larry Cross, and wife, Sandi, of Las Vegas, Nev., and Melvin Cross Jr. and wife, Marlene, of Baker City; brother, Tom Davis, and wife, Jemima, of Cascade, Idaho, and Palm Springs, Calif.; seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions may be made to the VIPs through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, January 25, 2002
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor