Dec. 9, 1921 –– Nov. 1, 2017
Ethel Voss, the hardworking and devoted matriarch to her large family, passed away peacefully Nov. 1, 2017, at her home in Joseph.
Ethel was born at home Dec. 9, 1921, in Linn, Mo., to Maude and Viviane Patterson, a first-generation rancher. Because of her father’s ranching career, Ethel and her five brothers, whom she adored, spent much of their time traveling with their parents between Wyoming in the summer and Missouri in the winter. T
he children attended school, Maude cooked for the ranch hands and Ethel helped raise her youngest brother “Johnny.”
When Ethel was a teenager the family took one last epic journey in a Model T Ford and a two-wheel trailer at 40 miles per hour to Milton Freewater to help out with that year’s pea harvest.
During that time, Ethel met Delbert “Bud” Harshfield and, unwilling to move with her family again, she quickly married him. Bud, a rancher himself, brought his new bride to Wallowa County where they raised their four children; Carol, Gayle, Jack and Mike.
When the children were small, Ethel worked hard cooking for ranch hands, milking cows and keeping her children clean and well-fed. As they grew and school and social activities became more demanding of their time, Ethel convinced Bud to buy a house in Joseph where she and her family spent many happy years. Bud passed in July 1979.
After her children were grown, Ethel worked as a maid at the Wallowa Lake Lodge and later in the kitchen at Wallowa Memorial Hospital. She remembered her adventures with coworkers fondly throughout her life and often regaled visitors with stories of her escapades and the laughs she shared.
In 1982, Ethel married long-time friend Warren Voss and the couple spent the next 20 years traveling around the country seeing the sights, attending the local Grange and going dancing.
The couple enjoyed helping to raise Ethel’s handful of great-grandchildren and their extremely pampered Chihuahua puppy “Pookie,” a time she would look back on fondly. They also spent many summer days camping out on their property along the Little Sheep Creek.
Ethel and Warren separated in 2002 and Warren passed away not long after.
In recent years, Ethel has lived alone but with a continual stream of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and eventually great-great grandchildren flowing through it. She continued to travel when possible, play games, watch polka, knit washcloths and crochet rag rugs. She loved to laugh, beat the pants off everyone at dominoes and care for her beautiful yard full of flowers.
There was never a moment when she was too busy to have a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll and spend time with her friends and family. She remained fiercely independent, driving her car and caring for her own home until the end of her life.
Although she only attended formal school until the eighth grade, she was wise beyond even her nearly 96 years, always surprising those around her with the depth of her knowledge and understanding. Words cannot express how much she will be missed.
She is pre-deceased by her sons: Gayle and Jack Harshfield, grandchildren: Jennifer Gibbs, Ryan Zimmer and Jack “Andy” Harshfield, her son-in-law Dean Gibbs, her parents and her spouses.
She is survived by her children Carol Gibbs-Zollman (Gayle) and Mike Harshfield (Pamela), her grandchildren, Terri McCready, Debbie Zimmer, Amy Martinson, Lee Harshfield, Michael Harshfield and Kristi Downing; great- grandchildren, Melissa Wagoner, Tiffany Zimmer, Jennifer Marshall, Stefanie Compton, Jack Martinson, Finn Martinson, Ryan Harshfield, Tyler Harshfield, Taylor Harshfield, Wyatt Harshfield, Brittany Harshfield, Austin Downing and CJ Downing; and great-great grandchildren, Alexis Wagoner, London Wagoner, Sonja Wagoner, Rhilynn Compton and Randon Marshall.