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Baker City, Oregon
Ron Tonack, 66, of Baker City, died July 6, 2002, as a result of the progression of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
His graveside funeral will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at Mount Hope Cemetery. Pastor Allan Franks of the Church of the Nazarene and Lynn Shumway will officiate.
Ron always enjoyed casual dress, his family members said. They encourage those attending the funeral to dress comfortably in the warm weather.
Ron was born Sept. 24, 1935, at Pendleton to Robert and Becky Tonack. He grew up in the Pendleton area. He received his bachelor’s degree from Eastern Oregon College (now Eastern Oregon University) where he met and married Lorna Umpleby in 1960. The couple have two daughters: Johanna Young of Baker City and Gretchen Surber of Prineville.
Ron’s love of teen-agers and his desire to help people led him to receive his master’s degree in special education from the University of Oregon at Eugene. He then was invited to set up a special education department at a new high school in Anaheim, Calif. After two years, he was invited to return to Oregon to be the director of special education for Marion County.
While worshiping at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Salem, Ron and Lorna felt God’s leading to teach at The Alliance Academy at Quito, Ecuador, South America, where Ron used his special training to teach junior high math for six years.
Ron and Lorna and their family returned to Eastern Oregon in 1980, when they both became teachers at Baker High School. Throughout his career, Ron’s passion was helping students realize their potential. During his 16 years at Baker High School his goal was to encourage and to help students develop skills to work and live independently.
Ron will be remembered as having a friendly greeting and a smile for everyone. He loved to lend a helping hand and always wanted to share his love of God through actions and speech.
After his disease made it impossible for him to be out among people, he spent hours each day praying for a very long list of people he knew as well as for those he heard had any kind of need. His influence was quiet, but far-reaching.
Survivors include his wife, Lorna, of Baker City; daughters and sons-in-law, Gretchen and Michael Surber of Prineville and Johanna and Jeff Young of Baker City; grandchildren, Justin, Andrew, and Erich Surber of Prineville, and Jennifer and Jacinda Young of Baker City; his sister Judith Terjeson of Pendleton and her sons, Rick and Mike; an aunt, Gladys Tonack; and several cousins.
Ron asked that memorial contributions be made to the Work and Witness ministry at the Church of the Nazarene or to Pathway Hospice of Baker City through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, July 12, 2002
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor