Lowell Kolbaba, 85 of Ontario passed away Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Arrangements are pending under the direction of the Haren-Wood Funeral Chapel, Ontario.
Florence Geelan, 84 of Ontario passed away at her home on Friday, February 24, 2017. Services are pending under the direction of the Haren-Wood Funeral Chapel, Ontario.
Evalena A. Penn 95, Ontario Oregon died Saturday February 25, 2017 at her home in Ontario. Arrangements are under the direction of the Haren-Wood Funeral Chapel, Ontario.
Betty B. Roberts, 80, of Ontario died February 25, 2017 at at local care facility. Arrangements by Lienkaemper Chapel,, Ontario.
Wayne D. Anderson, 81, of Ontario died February 26, 2017 at a local assisted living facility. Arrangements by Lienkaemper Chapel, Ontario.
Ernest Leland Staab of Ontario, Oregon, passed away in his home December 22, after an ongoing battle with cancer.
Born Nov. 3, 1935, in North Platte, Neb., to Walter and Ada Staab, he entered the family of four brothers and five sisters. The family headed west in a Model T truck for Washington and made it about 200 miles to Morrill, Neb., before they ran out of tires and tubes.
Ernie grew up knowing hard work and hard times. He went to school between harvests done by horse and hand. He took his sisters to school and his mother to church by horse buggy. The family milked 28 cows by hand twice a day as well as other farming chores and babysitting nieces and nephews. He said when writing his memoir, “We really had fun but we really worked our butts off.”
In 1945 at 11 years old, he was rented out as a ranch hand where he worked a team of horses. He started his collection of rattlesnake rattles and had his first brush with death after one bit him on his thumb. From 1947 to 1953 he rode a lot of horses and entered rodeo events on weekends.
In 1951 he quit school and was hired by Fred Butler Drilling doing seismographic work. He drove tractor as part of a black top team, then moved up to an oil tank truck for $1 per hour. He returned to drilling work around the state of Wyoming for the next 4-5 years. He was usually the youngest and even though only 125 pounds, never lost a job.
In 1954 he was called to join the service and enlisted in the Navy. On leave he returned home and married his first wife Roberta Mefford in Powell, Wyo., She and baby Ernie Lee joined him in San Francisco, near where he was stationed in California. He was assigned to the Bonhomme Richard USS CVA31 aircraft carrier. Ernie made three trips to Honolulu en route to Japan and Korea, on patrol of Korea and Formosa straits. During this time two daughters, Laurie and Sheryl, were born. He was transferred to the USS Boxer CVAR21 aircraft carrier and headed for the South Pacific Bikini Island Atom Bomb Test Area and Pearl Harbor. In 1958 was mustered out of Destroyer Base to the Panama Canal for the next 4 years.
Out of the Navy, Ernie headed back to Lander, Wyo., and Farmington, N.M., where he worked as a roustabout, then joined the Teamsters and worked at the Navajo Dam. Son John was born 1959 and daughter Lynn, 1960. The couple were often separated by location of their work. In 1963 they divorced.
Fall of 1966 Ernie was hired by Wyoming Seismograph for drilling work in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho and ended up in Vale, Oregon. Ernie met Ila Sage and her children Debbi and Donaven in Vale through a friend, Halloween 1968 while he was working on drilling water wells in the area. He returned to Vale where he and Ila were married June 13, 1970, and together with each of their respective children they became a family. He said of his union with Ila, “So that was the start of an everlasting family.” He supported Ila’s work with Idaho Power Company and his children’s endeavors in school and life. After a hand injury on his rig in 1972, he worked close to home as a mechanic and finished his years of employment as a Teamster driving truck.
In retirement Ernie and Ila could be found volunteering at Project Dove. They headed to San Diego for the winter in their RV and visited friends and family from Tennessee to Alaska. After Ila’s Alzheimer’s symptoms increased, they stayed closer to home in Ontario. In 2009, Shari Jackson Levelle found out that Ila was her birth mother and was welcomed as a great gift to Ernie and Ila with the rest of the family. Ernie spent his last few years fighting his cancer and taking care of Ila. For help with his and Ila’s care he partnered with a delightful companion and caregiver, Maria Maldanado, and adopted her family into his circle.
Ernie loved his wife Ila, his family, his farm and the many critters (including a raccoon) that looked to him for care. He showered his kids and grandkids in colorful language and racy comments. Ernie had one of the biggest hearts this world will ever see. As his sister Melba would say, “He had little feet, but left big prints.” Stubborn, Ornery, Mischievous, and Loyal are words that best described him. Whether it be ladies’ hats or questionable aprons Ernie approached life with humor. In spite of declining health he would often say, “If I can make even one person smile or laugh, it was worth it.”
Ernie is survived by his wife Ila; his children Sheryl Byer, John Staab, Lynn Staab, Debbi Staab Brooks, Donaven Staab and Shari Jackson Levelle; 18 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; sisters Melba Stager and Charlotte Steinbock; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He is preceded in death by his parents; children Ernie Lee Staab and Laurie Hamm; siblings Floyd Staab, Elizabeth (Sis) Smith, Billy Staab, Benny Staab, Berniece Becker Swan, Eileen Bee, Aldeen Thomas, Marilyn Shelley, Maurice Staab.
A Celebration of Life will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 18, at Vale Christian Church in Vale.
Condolences may be made to his family at www.lienkaemper-thomason.com or his Facebook memorial page.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one the charities Ernie supported: Alzheimer’s Association, American Legion Post 0067, Oregon State Sheriffs Association, Disabled American Veteran, Project Dove.