Helena ‘Juanita’ Brown April 13, 1925-May 1, 2013


Helena “Juanita” (Volle) Brown passed away at home in Irrigon on May 1, 2013.

Helana Brown
Helana Brown
She was born in Heppner on April 13, 1925 to John Rafeal and Barbara (Gebel) Volle who were Morrow County pioneers that arrived in 1918. They lived on upper Rhea Creek Southeast of Heppner in the Blue Mountains. Juanita rode horseback with her brother Robert William “Bill” Volle to a one-room school called Twin Pines at the fork of Wilson and upper Rhea Creek.

When she was 9 years old her parents took out a homestead claim in 1934 of sand and sagebrush west of Irrigon and moved from the mountains. The family lived in a tent and later a one-room cabin without running water or electricity while clearing and developing the land. These were Depression days and money was scarce.

During these early years they raised alfalfa, a huge vegetable garden and big crops of watermelons. Juanita helped plant, irrigate, weed and at harvest time loaded melons to be trucked to Portland, Madras, and Spokane markets.

During those early years they started out with four cows and increased to a herd of twenty-four of 24 milk cows. She and Bill hand milked and later by machine after electricity came to the area. They sold cream which was their yearly cash crop. They later sold the cows and bought 500 head of sheep.

Juanita herded and trailed sheep to Bull Prairie which took 12 days at 10 to 15 miles a day in all kinds of weather. Juanita learned to pull lambs during lambing season, tended mountain and shearing camps and helped butcher sheep.

Many times during World War II years, she and her mother put up the hay crop because all of their hired help were in the mountains herding sheep.

In 1938 they got electricity and life changed for the better for they had refrigeration, milking machines, pumps, washing machines and electric lights etc.

Juanita and her brother, Bill, attended Irrigon Grade School and graduated from Irrigon High School.

When Juanita was 20 she married Ollis (Jiggs) Lathrop. Their children were John Lathrop and Carrol Lathrop, and they lived on the original homestead which by now had been remolded and had many conveniences that could not be imagined when it was a one-room cabin. Her parents had been living on the ranch they bought a few years before, about 1939 or 1940.

Juanita later married Ed Wolgemuth and Virgil Morgan and Laurel Lee Ann Morgan were born to her family. These two children were later adopted by Ken Morgan. After Ken’s death, Juanita married Denzel Homer Brown. He passed away March 29, 1976.

Juanita was employed at the Umatilla Hospital and later at U&I at Boardman where she retired.

Juanita was a lover of animals and a great horse person. In her teens she did a lot of trick riding. She loved to cook and made many gallons of apple sauce and apple butter plus jams and jellies. She canned many quarts of peaches, pears, apricots and cherries and in the later years she gave most of it away. She loved to crochet afghans and made probably over a 100 or more. She gave them to friends, charity, and family. She had a beautiful flower garden and encouraged the birds to visit her back door. She was an avid reader of books, magazines and newspapers. She volunteered at church, the Senior Center and election boards. She helped many in the community who were sick. She was a good home nurse.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John R. & Barbara Volle; brother, Robert William Volle; husbands, Ollis (Jiggs) Lathrop, Ed Wolgemuth, Kenneth Morgan and Denzel Brown.

She is survived by John (Vicky) Lathrop of Benecia, Calif., and their children, two sons Jeremy and Ryan Lathrop; Carrol Wayne (Tawny) Lathrop of Litain, Texas, and his children, whose mother is Earlene, are, Chad (Anna) Lathrop and their children are Wyatt Ryan Lathrop, Coby (Elizabeth) Lathrop and their children, Peyton, Madelyn, Ollis and Elias Lathrop; Jody (Brian) Bea and their children, Brandon, Blaine, Brevor and Jaiden Bea; Virgil Wayne (Sylvia) Morgan and his adopted children, Tina and her children, Richard, Aleshia and Kadin; Laurel LeAnne Burke and children, Dustin (Jana) Morgan and their child, Haylee; Darrick (Candace) Wilson and children, Alivia, Alexis and Aidan Wilson and Casey (Crystal) Wilson and their daughter, Annabelle. She had step children that she was very fond of: Rexina, Billy Ray, and Holly Morgan and Jerry &and Harvey Bowman.

The family wishes to thank her good friends and neighbors Donna, Marge, Dean and Scott Acock, George and Alana Kenny, Jack Yoder, Dr. John and Hospice for their concern and help whenever she needed it and especially for her son, Virgil, who lived with her for the past year to take care of her.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, May 10, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Columbia View Community Church in Irrigon. Burial of cremains will follow at the Desert Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Irrigon followed by a pot luck gathering at Juanita’s home.

Please send condolences at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com

Burns Mortuary of Hermiston is in care of arrangements.