Cover photo for Orrel "Buck" Bryant Hayden's Obituary
Orrel "Buck" Bryant Hayden Profile Photo

Orrel "Buck" Bryant Hayden

April 23, 1923 — June 16, 2014

Orrel Bryant 'Buck' Hayden, age 91, of La Grande, died June 16, 2014, at a local care facility. A farewell to a good man and a good life will be held July 21st and details will be published later by Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center. To view the entire obituary and sign the on-line guest book visit Those who wish may make contributions to St. Peter's Episcopal Church, the Umatilla Tribe or just pay a good deed forward in his name.

Buck was born on April 23, 1923, the son of Orrel Floyd and Louise M. (Landercasper) Hayden in Lexington, Nebraska. He was raised in Wyoming on a bare bones cattle ranch which he described as a place where "the cattle had to graze at 30 miles per hour to get any grass." He got his nickname 'Buck' on his 5 mile walk to a one room school house as a small child. A neighboring rancher owned a male goat that would single him out (among the five or six children making the trek) and knock him down each day. He eventually would just lay down until the goat went on about his business. He learned at an early age to get up, dust himself off and get back in the saddle. It was a hard life and he grew up understanding that hard work, integrity and proper thinking were the order of the day, and that if he abided by those principles it would serve him and his family well. It did. That's the gift he left his family and hopefully it will be a gift his three sons give.

Buck served with the United States Navy from November 1940 until August 1945 during World War II. The ship, The USS Richmond, to which he was assigned left Pearl Harbor the week before it was attacked.

In June 1945 he married Virginia Ferguson in Gering, Nebraska They lived in Enterprise, OR where he worked as a professional photographer before moving to Umatilla where he was the projectionist for the Moore Theatre. Buck and Virginia later moved to Hermiston and in the mid 1950's, to La Grande. Once in La Grande, Buck worked at Globe Furniture until the late seventies,when he opened Buck's Furniture where the present day Wendy's restaurant sits. He and Virginia were active members of St. Peter's Episcopal Church and the Youth Group at the church. They were also members of the Amigos Club and volunteered at the Benedictine Sisters Monastery in Silverton, OR as well as the Methodist Church Camp at Wallowa Lake and Cove Ascension School. They volunteered for the Umatilla Indian Tribe and provided housing for some members who went to college at EOU. Buck and Virginia owned a sail boat and often sailed the Columbia River and San Juan Islands. He had a keen interest in the Old West and the family often vacationed to various Ghost Towns.

In later years, Buck was very active with Habitat for Humanity and participated in Fish Trap writing conference at Wallowa Lake many times. In his ‘80s Buck, now an avid writer, published his first book. A sailor, a strummer and crooner, a son, a brother, a brother-in-law, a husband, a father, an uncle, an author, a tinkerer, a comforter, a grandfather, a great grandfather, a humanitarian and a true friend has left us, and the world is just a little less special.

His sweet Virginia had been patiently waiting for him for 14 years, but she waits no longer. Virginia was his life, and the one for whom he felt a deep natural affinity of authentic love and genuine friendship. They are together again and once more they have become lost in each other. Buck would ask that you feel no remorse or displeasure at his passing. Again, it is the order of things, and if any remorse or displeasure should be shown, it would be Buck feeling those emotions for us. To his way of thinking, life was so perpetually good to him that the equal for us is not possible. Well dad, it's not only possible, it's happening. Thank you cowboy Buckaroo and you can Rest in Peace because your children carry the torch you lit, and know that your grandchildren are already teaching your great grandchildren the correct way to hold it.

Survivors include his sons and their spouses, Gary and Jeris Hayden of Yakima, Mike and Fran Hayden of Cove and Rick and Pat Hayden of Wallowa; nine grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren; siblings-in-law, Keith and Audrey Best of Baker City and Bill and Connie Ferguson of Joseph; numerous nieces and nephews and other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia, four sisters and one brother.


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