Clarann Witty, 82, of Enterprise, first came to the county in 1949 as a freshman in high school. Her mother was Virginia Dare Nunn of Virginia and her stepfather was Robert Nunn of Mississippi. Her father worked at Mt. Emily Lumber Company as a mill machinist.
She graduated from Enterprise High in 1953, married J. Butner, who was working for Wallowa County Grain Growers, and the couple had two children.
When the marriage ended in 1961, Clarann went south to her stepfather’s home state of Mississippi. None of the South remains in Clarann’s accent, but she spent many years there, attending Holmes Junior College and then Mississippi College in Clinton where she eventually earned her Masters Degree in Elementary Education. She taught in Pearl, Miss., at the beginning of integration.
It was an experience she says she remembers with great pride.
“I look back on it and I was so glad I had that opportunity. People are very good all over ... it matters not if they’re blue, green, pink or polkadot.”
She traveled back and forth to Wallowa County to visit her sister, the late Marvel Eaves. But she continued to work in the south until 1982 when she married her old classmate Derrell Witty and moved back to help Marvel with her restaurant “A Country Place on Pete’s Pond.”
Derrell worked for Wallowa County Road Department. He had three children by a previous marriage.
Clarann kept on helping her sister at the restaurant and built “Granny Yum,” a dehydrated prepared mix company with Marvel, Shirley Stonebrink and Eleanor Miller.
In addition to being the president of Hurricane Creek Grange, she helps out with the Wallowa County Fair and Wallowa County Museum, is interested in the Library District and has served as Oregon State Grange Community Service Director in the past.
Q. Why do you like Wallowa County?
A. I like it because people can come here and be themselves. You’ve got world travelers and people who haven’t gone past the county line. Are people here critical? Yes. Are people here giving? Yes. Are people here loving? Yes. And hardworking. It’s the same in the South, but, if you don’t look for it, you won’t see it. Believe it or not, there are still people around in the world with blinders on.
Q. What’s the difference between an opportunity and a curse?
A. Sometimes when you look at a curse it opens up your eyes to see another opportunity. So, I think opportunity follows a curse. We all have bad and good, we’ve all been there, but what are we going to do with it?
Q. Can you recommend a book for us to read?
A. Well, this may sound strange, but I’ve always loved the book of Proverbs in the Bible. Don’t ask me to quote one, but I love to see people who will say “This too shall pass,” pick themselves up and go on. I’ve read a lot of John Grisham’s books, too. I love people who look for answers and don’t let people sidetrack them — they just move forward.