Tribe loses eldest Elder again: Opal Davidson, 102, walks on

12.28.2017 Dean Rhodes Walking On

For the second time in less than a month, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has seen its eldest Elder walk on.

Opal M. Davidson, who became the Tribe’s eldest Elder upon the passing of 105-year-old Pearl Lyon on Nov. 29, walked on Wednesday, Dec. 27, at the age of 102.

Davidson was born April 19, 1915, in Grand Ronde. According to an April 2015 Smoke Signals story written about her at the time of her turning 100, her parents were “One Shot” Harry and Pearl (Hudson) Mercier. She was born after brother Vernon and before siblings Vincent and Blanche.

She graduated from Taft High School in 1933 and attended beauty school at Chemawa Indian School. She owned Nelscott’s first beauty salon, which is featured in a Lincoln County history book.

She later worked in a beauty salon in McMinnville where the Sage Restaurant is now located.

Opal met her husband, Loran Davidson, when he was living at her aunt Josephine’s boarding house. They married in 1946 and had five children – three sons, Gene, Harry and Loran Jr., and two daughters, Terri and April.

She raised the family in the blue house across from the Butler property on the west side of Grand Ronde Road while Loren worked in the local sawmills. At the time of her 100th birthday, she had 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Loren walked on in 1986 after 40 years of marriage.

Opal lived in Grand Ronde at the Tribal assisted living facility Cougar Lodge since July 2008 after residing in a foster care home in Sheridan.

She said she was proud to be the eldest Mercier, descended from Francis Mercier, her grandfather who immigrated to the United States from Belgium.

Visitation will be held from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Ronde. A rosary service will be held at 10:30 a.m. with a funeral service to follow at 11 a.m. A celebration of life will follow the funeral service at the Elders Activity Center, 48940 Blacktail Drive.

Dallas Mortuary Tribute Center is caring for the family.

With Davidson’s passing, the Grand Ronde Tribe no longer has a centenarian among its living membership. The eldest Elders are now 99-year-old Dorothy Greene, who was born Sept. 26, 1918, and 98-year-old Ruby Bigoni, who was born March 18, 1919.