Dr. Florian Michael “Jeff” Kovach, 87, of La Grande, died Oct. 12 at a local care center. A celebration of life will be planned for sometime in the spring. The announcement will be published later.

He was born on July 3, 1920, to Michael and Elizabeth (Farkas) Kovach in Tacoma, Wash. He graduated from Washington State University with a degree in veterinary medicine and served with the Air Force in Korea.

In 1946 he moved to the Grande Ronde Valley as the county’s first professional veterinarian and opened the Animal Health Center on Island City strip. On Aug. 30, 1948, he married Ruthe Dusenberry from Halsey in La Grande, initially living above the original clinic. He took care of large and small animals throughout the county, and was known by many. He later built a new clinic in Island City proper and loved his work there. He retired in 1987.

In retirement, he enjoyed gardening and spent many hours growing a large garden and lots of flowers. He enjoyed fishing, especially with his pals, Joe Fredricks, Dick Crawford and many others.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruthe Kovach. Survivors include his children and their spouses, Florian Michael Kovach Jr. of Florida, Peter Anthony and his wife, Rebecca Kovach, of Eugene, Rebecca Jo and her husband, Mark Sullivan, of La Grande and Nicholas Lee and his wife, Jan Kovach of Bellevue, Wash.; brother, Arnold Kovach of Fircrest, Wash.; three granddaughters; and other relatives.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Blue Mountain Humane Association in care of Daniels Chapel of the Valley, 1502 Seventh St., La Grande 97850.

La Grande Observer – Obituaries for the week ending October 20, 2007 – Published: October 20, 2007