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Urdel LaMar “Sam” Lay, a long-time resident of Baker City, passed away Wednesday, June 8, 2005, at the St. Elizabeth Care Center, at the age of 79.
Visitation was held on Monday, June 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gray’s West & Co.
Funeral services were held on Monday, June 13, 1 p.m. at Gray’s West & Company Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave., followed by a vault interment at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Orrin Lay officiated and Bishop Jeffery Daniels conducted. Military Auspices were by the United States National Guard.
Friends were invited to join the family for a luncheon at the LDS Church following the services.
Known to family and friends all his life as “Sam,” he was born Aug. 10, 1925, in Union County, Ore., to Urdel Wondel Lay and Mildred Ione Wanker, and grew up on the family ranch in Medical Springs, Ore., the oldest of seven children. His ancestry includes Mayflower pilgrims and Mormon pioneers.
Although he officially graduated from Union High School in May of 1944 as class valedictorian, Sam and several of his classmates finished high school in December of 1943 to answer draft calls from the Army. While others were graduating with cap and gown in May, Sam was completing training as a mobile radio operator in the second signal company, second infantry division, and headed for Patton’s army in Europe. He served in England, France, Belgium, Germany, and Czechoslovakia, earning numerous medals and commendations, and after the war he completed his military service as a radio operations trainer at an Army training center in Texas.
After his discharge, he returned home and married Bonnie Nell Engum on April 6, 1947, and together raised five children. He worked for years as a driller and blaster at the lime plant in Baker Valley, and later formed a successful partnership with John Osborne, drilling and blasting for highway and railroad construction contractors and rock crushers in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Sam was a master woodworker, he watched St. Louis Cardinal baseball games and Portland Trailblazer basketball games whenever he could, and he was an accomplished pitcher for Union High School’s championship baseball team who, before the war, was invited to a try out with a professional baseball club in Portland, Ore. He enjoyed western movies, history, and geography.
He is survived by his siblings, Oriel Galle of Pendleton, Ore., Ron Lay of Medical Springs, Ore., Charmaine Kohler of McMinnville, Ore., Cherin Humphrey of Bellingham, Wash., and Orrin Lay of Medical Springs, Ore.; his five children, Marla Lay, of San Clemente, Calif., LaMar Lay, Jr., of Portland, Ore., Sam Lay and his wife Vanessa of Baker City, Ore., Gwen Fuller and her husband Chris of Arlington, Va., and Pam Morrison and her husband Larry of La Grande, Ore.; and six grandchildren, Brandy Morrison Fisher, Annie Morrison Valek, Levi and Jordan Morrison, and Hillary and Mat Lay.
Used with permission from: The Record Courier, Baker City, Oregon, June, 2005
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor