Longtime Wallowa resident, Colleen DeGrofft, passed away in Hermiston on December 12, 2016. She was 91 years old. Martha Colleen Howell was born in Richland, Oregon on September 30, 1925, the third child of Orla John Howell and Imogene Cooper. She attended Richland schools until the family moved to Baker City, where she completed high school in 1943. Colleen was queen of the Baker County Fair in 1941.
In 1946, she met and married William M. DeGrofft Jr. After Bill returned from his Army service, they joined the DeGrofft family ranching business near Baker City. After the DeGroffts bought ranch land in Wallowa County, Colleen and Bill moved to Wallowa in 1948 to continue working with Bill’s father and brother
In 1956, Colleen and Bill purchased Wallowa Hardware, and were active members of the Wallowa “Main Street” community for many years.
After selling the Hardware in 1978, Colleen was employed by the State of Oregon Department of Human Services, and the Oregon Department of Forestry. She was a longtime member of the Order of Eastern Star and the Wallowa Methodist Church, where she especially enjoyed being the pianist and organist.
Colleen always supported her children’s activities, serving as an adult leader for Rainbow Girls and 4-H. She rarely missed one of their concerts, plays or volleyball games. She had a keen interest in politics and current events, and was an enthusiastic fan of the Portland Trailblazers and the Wallowa Cougars.
Colleen and Bill loved traveling in their RV, and visited every corner of the United States. Many winters were enjoyed in Arizona and Southern California. With an already-large circle of friends in Wallowa County, through their travels they added new friends and reconnected with distant relatives across the U.S.
In 2014, they moved to a senior living community in Hermiston, near their daughter Sue. Bill passed away in May 2015, one month before their 69th wedding anniversary.
Colleen is survived by her daughters, Diane (Bob) Alexander of Redmond, Marilyn (Gary) Hulse of Wallowa, Susan (Don) Daggett of Hermiston, and Nancy (Craig) Creel of Corvallis. Colleen was very proud of her six grandchildren, Mary, Tricia, Wayne, Mitchell, Andrew and Hana, and was excited to have six beautiful great grandchildren. Also surviving are her nephew Dean Sass, and nieces Sandra, Helen and Cathy Howell. She was preceded in death by her husband Bill, her parents, her sister Rowena Sass, brother Clark Howell and niece Robyn Sass.
A memorial service will be held Saturday March 25, 1:30 p.m. at the Wallowa Methodist Church. Light refreshment will be served in the social hall after the service.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Wallowa Methodist Church, Community Connection, or a charity of your choice.