75 years ago

Dr. J. H. Fell passes after half a century benefiting mankind

Dr. J. H. Fell, 80, dean of the medical profession in Grant County, and one of the best-known physicians of the state, died Sunday afternoon at the home of his son, George Fell, near John Day, after a lingering illness. Although he had been in failing health for several years, he has practiced almost continuously, maintaining his office in his home at Canyon City, and even in his last illness, when he was bedfast, patients came to him for medical advice.

Joshua Harlan Fell was born in Bloomington, Illinois, December 21, 1863, where he attended high school and Illinois Wesleyan University. During his early life he became interested in medicine and spent considerable time in his brothers’ pharmacy in Bloomington. He came to Morrow County, Oregon, in the early eighties where, for a time, he was associated with his father and brothers in the sheep business. It was during this period that he began to study medicine very seriously under his uncle, the late Dr. Fox of Heppner, Oregon, as a preceptor. After several years of study he matriculated at Rush Medical College, Chicago, Illinois, from which school he graduated in 1889. Later in the same year he arrived in Grant County to take up the practice of medicine and has practiced his profession throughout the county since that time.

In 1891, he was united in marriage to Mary Inez McHaley who preceded him in death in 1923. He is survived by his son, George E. Fell of Canyon City, a brother Walter P. Fell of Eugene, Oregon, and a number of nieces and nephews, as well as a host of friends throughout the state.

When a young man, Dr. Fell made several trips throughout the South Seas and the Orient as a ship’s surgeon.

He was a member of the Episcopalian church, and the Elks lodge.

Funeral services were held from the Driskill Mortuary chapel in John Day on Tuesday afternoon, conducted by the Rev. Arthur Beckwith, vicar of the Burns and Canyon City Episcopalian churches. Interment was at Pendleton, in the Fell family plot where Mrs. Fell is buried.

50 years ago

Knox move plans are confirmed

E. L. Knox Co., a John Day landmark since 1907, will pass from the Main Street scene this spring.

Henry (Hank) Gohring, who has operated the family-owned department, general merchandise and variety business since 1951, confirmed recurring rumors of recent weeks that the company would close its John Day store.

Gohring said the company plans to open a new variety store in Heppner. Headquarters for the company will be in Hermiston, where the firm now operates a variety store. A variety store in Burns is the third member of the chain.

“We figured our chances for expansion were greater in the area we’re going into,” Gohring said. With the closing of the John Day store, he added, the firm’s merchandise will be exclusively of the variety type.

The firm got its start about the turn of the century when E. L. Knox, who died in 1959 at age 89, started a general store in Mitchell in adjacent Wheeler County. Knox moved about 1900 to Antone before coming to John Day in 1907 to form a combination hardware-general store business with W. H. Johnson. Johnson’s sons built the Knox store building in 1902.

The company continued to sell groceries and dry goods until 1947, when the grocery part of the business was sold to Chester’s Market, John Day, which is now located diagonally across East Main Street.

The Knoxes acquired a general store in Dayville in the late 1920s or early 1930s and continued to operate it until March 1967, when the business, now known as Ripa’s Mercantile, was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Don Ripa.

Four years earlier, in April 1963, the company purchased the store in Burns. The newest and largest Hermiston store was purchased in September 1967.

Theron Knox, a son of E. L. Knox, joined his father in a partnership in 1922 and continued in the business until he was incapacitated by a heart attack in 1951. Gohring, who is married to Theron’s daughter, Anne, moved to John Day in 1951 from Yakima, Wn., to take over active operation of the business.

Gohring began his retail career in McMinnville in 1936 in a grocery store, moving later to Sheridan and Hillsboro. He switched to the dry goods business in 1942.

Besides surviving severe economic conditions in the county through the years, Knoxes’ store rallied from a disastrous fire in February 1957 and opened again two months later with all new merchandise.

Gohring said the firm will cease its operations no later than May 1 and will start its closing-out sales in mid-February. Both families will move to Hermiston.

25 years ago

Kowing, Claus join areas soaring fraternity of private airplane pilots

Joining a fast-growing fraternity, Bob Kowing and Harry Claus, both of John Day, recently became Grant County’s two newest pilots. Kowing received his license to fly on Dec. 22, and Claus received his on Dec. 16.

About a month prior to being granted his license, Kowing purchased a Piper Cherokee 140.

“I’ve wanted to fly all my life,” said Kowing. “I finally just decided to go for it, and last April I began taking lessons.”

Kowing has worked for the county for nine years and is the Grant County Road Department supervisor, a position he has held since 1990.

Claus is retired from the flight test division of General Electric located in Mojave, Calif. He and his wife moved to John Day in 1988 to be near their children.

It was about three years ago he decided to finally take lessons and get his license to fly.

“It’s only taken me 40 years to do it,” said Claus. “I started flying back about 1951, but life has a way of getting interrupted. It took a while but I made it.

Both Kowing and Claus received their flight lessons in a Piper Warrior 180 at the airport from Bill Kray, a certified flight instructor.

10 years ago

Juniper Singers set two shows for winter concert

Music lovers will have two opportunities this year to catch the Juniper Singers’ winter concert, “The Joy of Music.”

The Monument High School auditorium will be the site for the first performance, 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31. The same program will be repeated at the Mt. Vernon Community Hall at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7.

An $8 donation is requested for admission. Tickets will be available at the door.

Dr. Ed Carwithen is the conductor for the concert. The Little Singers, directed by Louise Kienzle, will perform, too, but only at the Mt. Vernon show. In addition to singing several, they will join the Juniper Singers for the traditional round, “Dona Nobis Pacem.”

Kaylee Ausland, youngest Juniper Singer, will play and sing one of her own compositions. Neale Ledgerwood will sing “The Impossible Dream” and Markku Sario, the Juniper Singers’ accompanist, will perform a piano solo.

Emceeing the evening will be Kathy Moss.

“The Joy of Music,” is full of beautiful songs of joy and hope, from a rousing gospel “Wake Up, Sinnah, Let the Glory In,” to a soaring arrangement of “Home on the Range,” with Janine Goodwin featured on the fiddle.

For more information, call Ed Carwithen at 541-932-4799.

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