Vicki Yost, 71, grew up in Joseph and graduated from Joseph High in 1965. She was the daughter of Alta and Henry Ward Beecher “Bee” Daggett Jr. Bee worked in the forest, cutting logs for Roy Daggett, working in the local sawmills or out in the forest.
Alta was a homemaker until her father, Wilbur Reece, went into care and the family needed a second income.
Wilbur Reece was one of the originators of Chief Joseph Days back when it was a big outdoor arena on the east moraine. He also produced the sign that reads “This little town is heaven to us so don’t drive like hell through it.”
The number of events and responsibilities held by family members is long and storied, Vicki said. Her own part in Chief Joseph was “doing whatever they needed me to do.”
After high school, she moved to Portland to learn to be a cosmetician. She married James Yost of Enterprise in 1966, and the two lived in Kentucky until James got out of the service. Then they moved back to the Paul and Gladys Yost ranch where James ranched and Vicki worked as a beautician.
The couple had two children, Tony and Jill (Hite).
When the children were young, Vicki went to work at the Wallowa County Courthouse and became the assessor — a job she held for around 15 years. During that time, she served as state president of the county assessors association.
She and James divorced in 1988, and Vicki moved to Deschutes County and took a job in the assessors office to be near her daughter. She remained in Deschutes County until approximately 2004 when she returned to Wallowa County.
By then both her children had returned to Wallowa County, and she was able to enjoy her four grandchildren.
“I wanted to be really involved in their lives,” she said. “Those memories you can’t get back. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, and I just love it. So that’s my life.”
She lived at home in Enterprise until 2017, when her sixth back surgery — the result of a broken back in a horse wreck when she was a young mother and the passage of years of wear and tear — prompted a move.
“I was used to being an old farm girl, and it took a long time for it to get through this old head that I couldn’t do all the things I used to do,” she said.
She now lives at Wallowa Valley Senior Living but continues to lead an active life with trips to ball games, out to dinner and other events.
“At first I thought I was in prison,” she said. “And then I decided maybe it wasn’t that bad. I always wanted a maid, a chef and a chauffeur.”
The list of her volunteer efforts includes involvement and leadership in 4-H, FFA, March of Dimes, Jaycees, Soroptomist, Chief Joseph Days, Stockgrowers Association, Cow Belles and “anything to do with kids ... I don’t think my head ever says no.” She continues to volunteer — she was busy recently helping make up the Christmas list for residents of Wallowa Valley Senior Living.
Q. Why live in Wallowa County?
A. Why not? Because it’s gorgeous. Where else could you live in such beautiful country, with beautiful people, caring people, a community that is always there for you. If you need help, you don’t even have to say so. Someone else will pick up the phone.
Q. What has Wallowa County taught you?
A. Humility. Just to be thankful for everything: the blessings and the hard work.
Q. Can you remember the first book that really had an impact on you? Can you recommend one you’ve read recently?
A. I read lots of Disney books when I was a kid. We lived in logging camp all summer long and anything I could get my hands on to take to logging camp with me . . . I would go to the library or wherever anybody had a stockpile and take those Golden Books with me. I loved Donald Duck — don’t ask me why. What I can recommend that I’ve read recently: the voters pamphlet! I have a passion about people and voting. Many people died for you to have that right to vote. Take advantage of that. Don’t poo-pah that away. Take it seriously.