Viola Gertrude Perkins, age 95, and a longtime resident of Muddy Creek and Haines, Oregon, passed away September 7, at Settler’s Park in Baker City.
She was born in Baker on July 6, 1926, to Herbert and Esther Green. Viola spent her early years in Cove, Oregon and after her parents divorced, moved with her Daddy (as she always lovingly referred to him) to Muddy Creek.
Viola graduated from Muddy Creek School and went to work for Nena Perkins to help cook for the haying crews. Room and board were part of her pay, and it was there she met and fell in love with a handsome, tall drink of water, Dwight Perkins. They were married on June 17, 1944. Viola dearly loved Nena and they had a wonderful mother-daughter relationship.
In a short biography, Viola wrote that they had no idea where they were going to live after they married (such a trivial thing to consider when young and in love), but Dwight’s folks moved from the homeplace on Muddy Creek to Haines while they were on their honeymoon.
“So, when we came back from Portland, Oregon, we moved into their ranch house—we lived there for four years,” she said. It was during that time they had their first son, Ron, and later Bill.
They moved from there to the ranch on the corner of the Anthony Lakes Highway and Mansfield Lane, and after a few years built a bigger home. It was there that son Lynn and daughter Debbie were born. They sawed lumber from family property on Bulger Flat, with the house being built in 1958.
Viola wrote, “We hit hard-pan and had to blast a lot of the basement. The boys helped with the digging. It didn’t work very well so our basement wasn’t very deep! We lived there until the spring of 1979—then we moved to the big city of Haines.”
This was the same home Nena and Loring Perkins lived in for so many years on the corner of Third and Amy. Viola and Dwight lived there for nearly two decades and she continued to do so after Dwight’s passing in July of 1997 until she went to live with her daughter Debbie and son-in-law, Mel, on their ranch in Nevada. After she needed more assistance, she moved back to Baker City into Settler’s Park.
Viola loved the little community of Haines and volunteered countless hours to the Eastern Oregon Museum, Friends of Haines Fourth of July Celebration, and the Haines Cemetery; she was an active member of the Haines Baptist Church and Mutual Improvement Club, of which she served as president more than once. She helped with 4-H activities and taught Sunday School when the kids were young, and was active in the “Baker County Cowbelles,” (now called the Baker County Cattlewomen), also serving as president.
Viola was a quiet force along with Dwight during the early formation of Anthony Lakes, and cooked in the lodge with her dear friend, Betty Vanderwall. She worked as a postal clerk in Haines, as well.
She loved to sew, quilting in particular! She also liked to crochet, bake, pick huckleberries, and took the kids camping often. Her chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies were the best!
Viola was a dedicated rancher’s wife, mother, grandmother, a good neighbor, and friend to many. And by golly, she could get cows—anybody’s cows—to gather and come running to the gate when it was time to move them, with a hearty “suuuuboss.”
Viola is survived by her children including William (Cherie) of Roseburg, Lynn (Gina) of Baker City, and Debbie (Mel) of Winnemucca, Nev. Her oldest son, Ron, died in 2008 and his wife, Shelly in 2019; Grandchildren include Andy (Wendy), Erich (Sarah), Brittany, Kelli (Chris), Evan, Arden (Michelle), Hayden (Hope), and Matt. There are ten great-grandchildren.
A graveside service will be held on Friday, September 24 at 10:30 a.m. at the Haines Cemetery with Cliff Cole presiding. Family and friends are invited to the Haines Baptist Church for a luncheon following the service.
Those wishing to donate in honor of Viola may do so to the Eastern Oregon Museum in Haines, Haines Baptist Church, the Rock Creek - Muddy Creek Mutual Improvement Club, or a charity of one’s choosing. Donations should be sent in care of: Coles Tribute Center, 1950 Place Street, Baker City, OR 97814.
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