Cover photo for Frances  Dale Tarvin's Obituary
Frances  Dale Tarvin Profile Photo

Frances Dale Tarvin

November 1, 1919 — June 1, 2012

Frances Tarvin of La Grande and formerly of Baker City, died peacefully, June 1, 2012 at her home in the Grande Ronde Retirement Residence in La Grande. A memorial service will be arranged at a later date. Arrangements are entrusted to Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center.

Frances Dale Runft Tarvin was born in Herington, Kansas on November 1, 1919. She was the youngest of six children born to Jacob and Pearl L. (DeWeese) Runft. Frances' grandfather and father owned a general store in Hays, Kansas. One of her favorite stories was about the day the infamous Dalton Gang arrived while her father was closing the store. He told them he was leaving and to "help themselves", when he returned in the morning he found a list of items taken and money on the counter. When Frances was 19 years old the family moved to Baker City where her father worked for Basche-Sage Hardware. Frances' first job was working as a nanny in Auburn, Oregon and then in Bridgeport, Oregon, where she met her future husband, Chelmer A. Tarvin. They were married in Weiser, Idaho on September 13, 1941. Their first home was in La Grande, where Chelmer worked for the Union Pacific Railroad (UP). Shortly after the birth of their first son, the UP transferred Chelmer to Baker City; they stayed in Baker City until 1946 and then moved to Hereford, Oregon in Burnt River Valley, Oregon area to ranch for the next 20 years. They lived the rest of their married life in Baker City; she lost Chelmer on July 9, 1991.

Frances drove cattle trucks across the windy and cooked road over Dooley Mountain to Baker. She said she would never forget the day she came around a corner upon a logging truck accident. The men attempting to move the log truck were instructed to hold traffic, but when they saw who was driving they called out, "It's a woman-driver, don't try to stop her." Frances centered her life around her family. She said "our homes were always full of love and open to friends". She was involved in the community and schools, and was a member of the Christian Church in Baker City. Frances and Chelmer loved to square dance, eventually Chelmer became a caller to the dances; they enjoyed those evenings with their friends. She particularly enjoyed transporting her sons' fellow grade school and high school students to sporting events. All her life, and even up to t few days before her death, she loved to play card and board games with everyone, but especially with her children and grandchildren. They like to point out that she was never caught cheating, but she rarely lost.

She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, siblings, Leland, Donald, Everett, Lyle and Gladys (Burdett) and three grandchildren. She is survived by her sons, Clinton l. and Kathy of La Grande; Clifford A. and Chris of Waitsburg, Washington and Darrell C. and Karen of Mesa, Washington; grandchildren, Shannon, Nick, Josh, Tony, Nicolle, Andy, Brian, Tammy, Staci, Brandon and Jacob; thirty-seven great grandchildren; four great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; her life-long friend, Viona Schmidt and her beloved cat, Mitzy.

This quote was found in her journal, "No one knows which way she went, but she had a good life well spent."

In lieu of flowers donations can be made in her name to the Grande Ronde Hospital Hospice or the American Cancer Society.


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