Obit. Lee Hollis DeGrofft 1921-2009
Lee Hollis DeGrofft
Lee Hollis DeGrofft, 87, of Joseph, died May 2, 2009, at Wallowa Valley Care Center. DeGrofft, known as Hollis to family and friends, was born May 21, 1921 to William M. Sr. and Florence L. (Dau) DeGrofft in Rocky Ford, Colo.
As a youngster he lived in Colorado, Idaho and Oregon. He graduated from Nyssa High School in 1939 and attended Oregon State College (OSU) to study agriculture for five terms. He was a drummer in the ROTC marching band and looked forward to attending the Rose Bowl in Jan. 1942 - however, Dec. 7, 1941 and Pearl Harbor cancelled the game on the west coast. The game was played in the MidWest and the band was unable to attend.
Since there was a shortage of farm workers during the war, Hollis did not serve in the war. Rather, he and his brother quit college to help their father on the farm. He, his parents and younger brother were the first to bring sugar beets to the Treasure Valley area.
In 1942, when Hollis was 21, his father bought a ranch in Auburn near Baker City and Hollis moved there to run the ranch and met his future wife. He married Betty Jean "Billie" Thrasher on May 5, 1944. The couple moved to Wallowa County in 1948, ranching there until the spring of 1956. In the fall of 1956 they bought a hardware store in La Grande and sold it in the spring of 1961. The family then moved to Joseph, where Hollis worked for B.W. James a few years before ranching again at Imnaha. He ranched at Upper Imnaha until March 1973, when he moved to Joseph and semi-retirement.
From 1973 to 1977 he drove cattle truck for Mike O'Rourke. In the fall of 1977 he moved to High River, Alberta, Canada where he worked part-time as a landscaper. He returned to Wallowa County and Joseph in 1997.
Hollis was a 50-year plus member of Masonic Stanley Lodge No. 113 and a lifelong member of United Methodist Church. He enjoyed singing from the age of five years, accompanied by his Mother as pianist. He performed many solos, duets, quartets and participated in church choirs.
Interests included fishing, hunting, camping, traveling and playing cards. His primary hobby was woodworking.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Betty J. "Billie"; sons, Darrel L (Marty Fuestal) DeGrofft of Fort Collins, Colo. and Duane H. (Patty Alford) DeGrofft of Pendleton; and daughter Lynda J. (Reid) Kooch of Enterprise; grandchildren, Shari Lee (Darin) Powell, Shawn William (Dena Truscott) DeGrofft, Ryan (Jen Fleischmann) DeGrofft, Tiah Jill DeGrofft, Michelle Lynn Kooch, David Reid (Stephanie Phinney) Kooch, Dan Kenneth (April Foster) Kooch; great-grandchildren Brynn Powell, Cooper William DeGrofft, Jack Ryan DeGrofft, Chayanne J.Kooch, Kasin D. Kooch, and Lane K. Kooch; one brother William M. Jr. (Colleen Howell) DeGrofft of Wallowa; five nieces and one nephew.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
At his request there will be no services. Disposition of ashes will be in the high Wallowa's. The family plans a mid-summer celebration of Hollis' life.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Shriner's Children's Hospital Transportation Fund at 3101 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239.