August 7, 1912 – April 25, 2017
On her 102nd Birthday, 2014, Eldora Ladd clearly remembered and remarked about her “Blast “Birthday, 55 years earlier: The same day as her 47th birthday, a truck exploded, destroying much of the Roseburg downtown area. Eldora was in Eugene at the time, but her husband, LeRoy Ladd, lost his Roseburg business, which changed their lives. Her long life, well-lived and varied, was a “Blast”! As the Frank Sinatra song “If You Are Among The Very Young At Heart” goes, she was very young and bright to the end of her almost “105” years of life.
Eldora Lee Ladd died early Tuesday, April 25, 2017, in Roseburg, Oregon, of natural causes stemming from a fall in mid-January of this year. Though a diminutive 4’ 8’’, she successfully survived leg surgery, however, as feisty and vivacious a trooper as she was, her body was tired, but not her active mind.
Eldora Lee French was born in Ridgefield, WA, August 7, 1912, being named by her father, Charles, after a fishing boat. At six months old, Charles died. Her mother, Anna married his brother, Ora French, and they moved to Prineville, Oregon. Eldora and her older sister Delores rode a horse to school. They played in creeks, with neighbor’s pigs, had frogs they named, and made their own toys, surviving cold snowy winters. Ora took his family to Corvallis where his daughters attended high school. Later, following her sister to Portland, OR, Eldora began her adult years. She was 18 at last, her goal realized, and from that point on “age is just a number” was her motto. She loved to dance, and these were the “Flapper” years. On Saturday nights the Crystal Ballroom became very well known to Delores and Eldora. Recently on a McMenamins trip around Oregon with a daughter and granddaughter, she told them many humorous stories of that Ballroom 85 years ago.
In 1932, on a blind date, she met her future husband, George William Schumacher, the ninth child of an established Portland family. Many “dances” later, they were married August 8, 1933. They soon started adding five children to the already large Schumacher clan. Eldora was not only an active housewife and mother, she sang in church choirs, womens’ choruses, played bridge, sewed most of her childrens’ clothes, was a gardener par excellence, and kept the family books. George told his children many times: “If it weren’t for your Mom stretching the dollar, we would all end up at the Poor Farm!” George and Eldora took dance lessons and learned to golf. Eldora played well into her mid 90s, along with bowling. She had a profound love of music, opera, theatre, games and books, especially poetry and mysteries.
In 1953, a business opportunity took George, Eldora and their five children to Eugene, where they became active in that community. George died suddenly in March, 1955, leaving Eldora a widow at age 42, with four children still at home. While working as credit manager for a local Chevrolet dealer, Eldora met LeRoy Ladd from Roseburg. They were married in December of 1958. After the “Roseburg Blast” destroyed his Oldsmobile Dealership, together they built and operated the Douglas Inn in downtown Roseburg.
In 1968, another business opportunity appeared for LeRoy in the Napa Valley, CA. He bought property and a bar in St. Helena. Eldora changed the bar into The Eldorado Lounge, with dancing on Saturday nights.
In addition to her “lounge” duties, she continued to garden, play golf, and was very active in the Soroptimists Club, an international womens’ volunteer philanthropic organization. After nine years in St. Helena, the Ladds decided to return to Oregon.
In 1978, they sold their house and business and moved to LaPine, south of Bend, OR. Again, Eldora gardened, played golf, and together they joined the Moose Lodge, adding snowmobiling, chopping wood, and shoveling snow to their sports and chores. With an RV they continued to travel through Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, clamming and crabbing along the way. Eldora became one of the first volunteers for the new High Desert Museum in Bend, responsible for the first injured owl and a few snakes!
In September of 1996, after a long illness, LeRoy died in LaPine. They were married 38 years. Five years later as a widow, Eldora, at age 89, was urged by her family to move back to Roseburg where her youngest daughter and her husband own a glass business. What did she do? She golfed and bowled until age 96 or more, and drove her own car to age 99. She was active in the Red Hats, played Bingo and other games, read many books, and kept a beautiful garden. Eldora never stopped! Even slowing down a bit, she was still “The Hit of the Party.” She Loved her family above all else. Though her eyesight was beginning to fail, what kept her going were phone calls, visits, pictures, and videos with her 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
She loved to travel. In addition to RV trips, she visited members of her family in Alaska, Japan, Hawaii, California, Arizona, and Texas. One of her most memorable trips was to Greece, as part of a group hosted by a daughter and son-in-law. She never forgot the names of places they went, nor all the participants.
Eldora is survived by her four daughters, Patricia Martin, Eugene, OR, Beverlee (Alan) Carlson, Springfield, OR, Judith Yost (Will Taegel), Wimberley, TX, and Stephanie (Don) Ramberg, Roseburg, OR; her step-daughter, Sandy Reyner, Lincoln, CA; step daughter-in-law, Artie (Norman, deceased) Ladd; her son, George W. Schumacher, Jr. died Jan, 2010 in Roseburg. She leaves behind a score of friends across the country.
Being an amazing, strong woman, with a sterling liveliness about her, she kept up with and would comment on current news, loved stories, white wine, saw humor in most everything, and loved nature and all its wild occupants. Always an instructor, she would tell her children: “Take care of the land and its animals.” “Practice patience, perseverance, and resilience. Be strong women and men, and don’t spend your money on frivolous things. Above all, love each other.”
Eldora is greatly missed, but remembered with joy. There will be a Celebration of her Life, in Roseburg, at Cooper Ridge Winery, Aug 10, 2017. Another celebration for family and friends will be held for her in Portland soon after. Details for both events and location in Portland will be forthcoming.