Walking On -- Donald Gene Jeffers, Arlene Jean Kautz, Rhonda Gay Meacham
Donald Gene Jeffers
April 7, 1934 – Oct. 20, 2023
Tribal Elder Donald Gene Jeffers of Florence, Ore., passed on Oct. 20, 2023, at the age of 89.
He was born in Eugene, Ore., to father Ira Jeffers and mother Bertha Luce Jefffers. Don was a loving father and grandfather, affectionately known as “Gampa Don” or “BaDon,” names he answered to with great pride and love.
Don had a genuine interest in meeting and visiting people, often engaging with them at powwows, learning about their Tribes and heritage. He was very proud of his Native heritage and being a Grand Ronde Tribal member.
Don served in the U.S. Army as a private first class from 1954 to 1956. Following his military career, Don spent most of his life working in the woods as a logger, specializing in timber falling. He helped build logging roads and drove a dump trunk.
Don also worked in helicopter logging operations for a period of time, where he would ride with his dog, Travis, tucked in his shirt while hanging under the helicopter by a rope to get dropped off in the canyon for the day to cut up cedar logs. At the end of his work day, that’s how Don flew out of the canyons. He enjoyed cutting the cedar logs and bucking them up into bundles to be flown out of the canyons, and being dropped off on the landing. It was dangerous, but exciting work.
In his free time, Don enjoyed camping, hunting and fishing with his daughter Tonya Starmer and her husband, Craig, and grandchildren Travis and Brandy. They spent many memorable years together creating loving memories.
Don had a fondness for observing wildlife and developed a special connection with squirrels. He loved feeding them peanuts and found joy in watching them climb up his legs to retrieve the treats.
Powwows became a significant part of his life, where he felt a sense of belonging and acceptance. Don traveled to numerous Oregon powwows in Grand Ronde, Siletz and Wallowa, and events out of state such as Albuquerque, N.M., and many more. He participated in some, carrying the Veterans Affairs flags onto the dance floor.
Don also took pleasure in walking on the beaches of Oregon, particularly in Florence, Winchester Bay and Newport, where he would watch the boats coming in and out of the bays and over the bar.
Sports also held a special place in Don’s heart. He was an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team and enjoyed watching football. Music also played a significant role in his life, as he loved to sing and play the guitar. Don continued to pursue this passion until his hands no longer allowed him to play.
Throughout the years, he cherished the pictures sent to him of his grandchildren, and visiting grandson Chad Parker and watching him grow. He found great joy in being a part of his life along with Travis and Brandy Starmer’s lives, watching them thrive and grow from birth to adulthood.
Traveling and watching wildlife shows and funny sitcoms were among Don’s other favorite pastimes.
Don will be remembered for his love for his family, his passion for the outdoors and his deep connection with people from all walks of life. His memory will forever live on in the hearts of those who truly knew and loved him, including longtime caregiver/friend Luann Brown, who took care of Don in his last few years.
Per Don’s wishes, his ashes will be spread at a place he chose that was very special and memorable to him. This ceremony will be carried out by his daughter, Tonya Starmer, and her immediate family.
Burn’s Riverside Chapel in Florence, Ore., assisted with the cremation arrangements.
Arlene Jean Kautz
Sept. 7, 1941 – Nov. 13, 2023
Tribal Elder Arlene Jean Kautz of Olympia, Wash., passed on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023, at the age of 82.
Mills & Mills Funeral Home in Tumwater, Wash., is assisting the family.
Funeral service details were not available at presstime.
Rhonda Gay Meacham
April 28, 1952 – Nov. 7, 2023
Tribal Elder Rhonda Gay Meacham passed on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, at the age of 71.
Thomas & Jones Funeral Home in Las Vegas, Nev., is assisting the family.
Funeral services were not available at presstime.