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Wallowa County Obituaries



George Lawrence Potter, 86, died at his home in Joseph, on Dec. 22, 1993.

He was born Nov. 12, 1907, at Tolo Lake, Idaho near Grangeville, Idaho. When he was two years old the family moved to Three Hills, Alberta, Canada where his father homesteaded. They lived there until 1912 when they returned to Camas Prairie near Fenn, Idaho. On July 23, 1912, his mother died during childbirth. During the next few years he and his brother and sister followed their father throughout the Seven Devils and Eastern Oregon mining districts as he practiced his trade as a miner.

When Lawrence was 13 he was taken in by a widow in Richland. Mrs. Guyer had a large family of her own but she insured that Lawrence was able to finish grade school.

After grade school, he went with his father to Cornucopia where he worked in the Last Chance Mine for four years until it closed. In 1925, he came to the Snake River with his father to work some mines near Temperance Creek. He stayed on in the Snake River Country for the next six years working for Robinson and Trippier at Temperance Creek, Pete Wilson at Saddle Creek and other Snake River ranchers. In 1931 he started working for the Forest Service on the old Imnaha/Snake District. He and Buck Wilson of Imnaha worked on building the second Hat Point Tower. The first tower was 50 feet high and the next one is 68 feet. For the next 16 years he continued working for the Forest Service spending time at the Mormon Guard Station, Hat Point and other lookout stations along the western rim of the Snake River.

In January 1933 he was married to Ilene Thompson in Joseph. For the next 10 years they lived on Little Sheep Creek and the Divide. In 1943 they bought Ilene's mother's place on Little Sheep Creek and lived there until 1991 when they moved to Joseph.

During those years on Little Sheep Creek, Lawrence divided his time between ranching, the Forest Service and working in the timber industry.

Lawrence enjoyed the outdoors and was an enthusiastic hunter. He was actively involved with leading 4-H livestock clubs and enjoyed the functions and social gatherings of the Rebekah and Odd Fellows Lodges. In 1961 he was selected as Father of the Year by the Wallowa County CowBelles. He and Ilene were Honorary Grand Marshals of the Mule Days Celebration in 1986. On Jan. 2, 1993, Lawrence and Ilene quietly observed 60 years of marriage and a lifetime of working and enjoying life in a world of unprecedented changes.

He is survived by sons Dale of Joseph, Jay of Hermiston and Rodney of Salem; eight grand children, 11 great-grandchildren; and other relatives.

Ilene preceded him in death on November 5, 1993.

Funeral services were held Wednesday, Dec. 29, at the Bollman Funeral Home with interment to follow in the Prairie Creek Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the charity of choice in care of the Bollman Funeral Home, 315 W. Main, Enterprise, OR 97828.

Wallowa County Chieftain
Thursday December 30, 1993
Page 2

Joan Meister is part of the Thompson family from Ohio.


Imnaha native, Ilene Potter, 86, died Nov. 5, 1993, at her home in Joseph.

She was born Ilene Eliza Thompson on Nov. 13, 1906, at the "Bridge" in Imnaha. She spent her childhood on her parents' homestead on the Imnaha River near Freezeout.

The following is her personal account of that time:

"This was a happy life growing up in the beautiful big canyon of Imnaha. There was much work and play. I learned to ride horseback at a very early age as did my brother and sisters. Everyone had to ride horses, the only mode of transportation for kids to go places by themselves. I loved to ride and always had a good horse and did ride for years until I was a middle aged woman. We left Imnaha May 1923, a very sad interruption in my life, leaving a way of living that meant much to me. I learned the hard work of life; lots of pleasures in those days.

In an out of way place, you made your own pleasures and enjoyed it. You had good neighbors and everyone was your friend. Even though the distances were great to travel by horseback or team and wagon, there were many big gatherings, picnics and home potlucks."

During the next two years, Ilene lived with her folks in Joseph, working part-time at the telephone office and as a housekeeper. The family moved to the Divide in 1925 to run a big ranch and Ilene tended to the milking and cooked for the hired men. Her parents purchased a ranch on Sheep Creek and on Dec. 2, 1927, in 20 degrees below zero temperatures, they moved into their new, not quite finished home. Ilene spent the next five years tending to chores and livestock on her parents ranch, and cooking at neighboring cattle ranches and lambing camps.

During the 4th of July celebration in 1931, Ilene first met the "young man with the perfect nose," her future husband, Lawrence Potter. She always proclaimed "it was one of those cases of love at first sight!"

Ilene and Lawrence were married on Jan. 2, 1933, at the home of friends in Joseph and built a small house on the Sheep Creek ranch. Lawrence worked for the Forestry Service during fire season, from early spring until late fall, at the Mormon Guard Station. During winters, he and Ilene helped with the milking, hauling hay, chores, and ranch work on the Sheep Creek ranch.

Their first son, Dale, was born on the ranch in 1934, and Jay, in 1936. Ilene then had to pack two babies on horseback on the 18 mile, six hour ride from Memaloose to the Mormon Guard Station, while Lawrence managed the pack string. In the fall of 1939, they bought a small ranch on the Divide and quickly accumulated milk cows and stock of their own.

Lawrence continued to work for the Forest Service; Ilene and the boys looked forward to spending the summers with him on Hat Point. Their third son, Rodney, was born in 1943, the same year Ilene's father suddenly died. The following spring, Ilene and Lawrence bought the Sheep Creek ranch from her mother. There they made their home for the next 48 years. Ilene noted "There was never a dull moment for so many years but it made life interesting with our boys spurring us along. They sure grew up knowing how to work and learned ever so much. We were soon milking 15 cows, bucket feeding the calves, raising lots of hogs, and quite a few chickens."

Ilene and Lawrence also enjoyed the functions and social gatherings of the Rebekah and Odd Fellows Lodge. She joined Rebekahs in 1924 and remained a lifetime member. They were actively involved in 4-H when their sons were in school and led a stock club for 10 years. Ilene was also a very active member of the Wallowa County Cattle Women (CowBelles). She served as president in 1963-1966 and was presented with the Life-time Membership Award. When time permitted, they loved to travel to visit family and friends and to participate in lodge functions. In 1986, they were made honorary grand marshals of the Mule Days celebration in Enterprise.

Although they sold their purebred Herefords in 1977,Ilene and Lawrence continued to live on the Sheep Creek Ranch to enjoy the country life they loved so much. Declining health and limited mobility required them to move into Joseph in the fall of 1991. On Jan. 2, 1993, they quietly celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Summing up her life, Ilene once wrote "In spite of all the problems, hard times, Hard work and illnesses, it has been a beautiful life and family. Who could ask for more; life can be full of love and pleasure if you live it so. That is us."

Ilene is survived by her husband, Lawrence Potter; sons, Dale Potter of Joseph, Jay Potter of Hermiston and Rodney Potter of Salem; one sister Vaunie Warnock of Enterprise; eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, one brother and one sister.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the Bollman Funeral Home with interment in the Prairie Creek Cemetery. Memorial may be made to the charity of one's choice.

Wallowa County Chieftain
Thursday November 11, 1993
Page 2

Joan Meister is part of the Thompson family from Ohio.

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