Ethel Elizabeth (Harrison) Deatherage

Ethel Elizabeth (Harrison) Deatherage died on December 11, 2019, at age 90 due to renal failure and complications ultimately related to treatment she received for cancer in 1977-78.

Ethel lived a remarkable life. She was born May 7, 1929, at Wilbur, Oregon near Roseburg to William and Ruth (Buxton) Harrison. Her father died when she was two years old, during the Great Depression. She grew up in a hand-built log house off the grid outside Canyonville, Oregon, and helped support her family as a very young child by picking prunes. 

Ethel attended public schools in Canyonville, graduating as valedictorian of her high school class in 1948. During World War II, Ethel joined the Ground Observer Corps of the Aircraft Warning Service as a volunteer spotter as soon as she was eligible at age 14. During high school she did house cleaning and babysitting for local families, and worked at the Rexall Drug Store in Canyonville.

Ethel earned a scholarship and attended the University of Oregon in Eugene for one year before marrying Benson Deatherage in 1948 and returning to Canyonville. For the next several years she and her growing family lived in or near Milo, Myrtle Creek and Tiller in Douglas County before moving to Cottage Grove in 1962, where she resided the rest of her life.

She worked as a secretary at Lincoln Junior High during the late 1960s and early 1970s, then at the South Lane School District Office from 1979 until she retired in 1994. She was selected for Bohemia Mining Days Senior Court in 1994. She was a long-time member of the Calvin Funk Post 32 American Legion Auxiliary, the Cottage Grove Genealogical Society and several local writing groups, including the Fortnight Society.

She was an avid and accomplished quilter and practiced other needlework arts, participating in many area exhibits and craft fairs. She also enjoyed writing, especially about her childhood, conducting genealogical research, and spending time with her family.

Survivors include Marie Deatherage (Ric Seaberg) of Pacific Beach, WA; Sarah Koss of Longview, WA; Denny Deatherage (Tammie) of Cottage Grove, OR; sisters Hannah Volkman and Frances Gitchel (Chuck) of Renton, WA; Charlena Gale of Corvallis, OR; Cecil Wolfer Jr. of Spokane, WA; four grandchildren Velvet Miscione of Irvine, CA; Benjamin and James Deatherage of Cottage Grove; Jeffrey Koss of Austin, TX, 16 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Preceding her in death were her parents, William Harrison and Ruth Wolfer; her husband of 50 years, Ben Deatherage; son Curt Deatherage; grandson Blaine Deatherage-Newsom; son-in-law David Koss; and sisters Marion Harrison and Jane Tourville. She was the last remaining member of her generation in her husband’s family.

Burial will take place at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland. A private family gathering will celebrate her wonderful life at a later time.

During her remarkable life, Ethel’s kind and gentle nature touched many in the community. She will be missed by everyone who knew her. Her family members are especially heartbroken, though they are so proud of the exemplary life she led and grateful to have been part of her journey.

Memorial contributions may be made to Calvin Funk American Legion Auxiliary, PO Box 4, Cottage Grove, OR 97424 or the Pete Moore Hospice House, 4010 County Farm Road, Eugene OR 97408, where she received loving care during her final days.