Nov. 8, 1927 –– Dec. 3, 2017
Ella Blanche Maxwell, a longtime resident of Lostine, passed away Dec. 3, 2017, in the comfort of her home with loved ones. She was 90.
Blanche was born in Hettinger, N.D., to Camille and Katherine Lermeny. The family moved to Wallowa County in the early ‘30s. Blanche and her brother, Robert Le Roy Lermeny, enjoyed their childhood on a ranch east of Joseph, where Blanche spent most of her time on horseback.
Blanche met Marvin Maxwell at Enterprise High School where they soon became sweethearts. Marvin served in Japan in the U.S. Army. Returning from service, he and Blanche were married March 13, 1949. They had three boys: James Bailey, Donald Lee and Gregory Dale.
Blanche was a terrific mother and a very hard-working woman. Due to Marvin’s work with First Interstate Bank, the family often relocated. Blanche not only took care of the children during these moves, but also often had side jobs in each new city. Her favorite employment was when she worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Wallowa County. This job spoke both to her love of nature and her love of service.
Blanche was well-known in the local community for her love of horses. She was a princess on the 1946 Wallowa County Court, a 1947 Chief Joseph Days Princess, a 1947 Elgin Stampede Princess and a 1948 Princess of the Lewiston Roundup Court.
In her golden years, she often rode in the Chief Joseph Days parade with other former queens and princesses; with her granddaughter Bailey usually riding by her side. Blanche was also the grand marshal of Hells Canyon Mule Days parade in 2007. The joke was always that she was always a princess and never a queen. That streak finally ended when she was named Queen of the Redneck Rodeo in 2000.
Marvin died in 2006. Blanche found solace in her two dogs, Brisco and Tippy. As Blanche would say, “When you have pets, you are never alone.” She spent many years enjoying the company of her dogs and the beautiful view of the Wallowa Mountains. She called it “the perfect view a person can have.”
The family would like to thank the community of Wallowa County for all of the love and support they have shown Blanche and her family throughout the years. A public service will be held at Wallowa Cemetery 1 p.m. May 19 to celebrate a life well lived. A gathering to share memories and enjoy food will be at the Wallowa County Senior Center following the service.
She was preceded in death by parents Camille and Katherine Lermeny; step-father Marvin Bork; husband Marvin Maxwell; brother Robert Lermeny and son Donald Maxwell.
Blanche is survived by her sons James Bailey and Gregory Dale Maxwell; sister in-law Thelma Maxwell; daughter in-law Kathy Maxwell; grandchildren Bailey Anne Maxwell, Jason B. Maxwell and Sherry Lynn Ledgerwood; niece Marcia Wood and husband Monte; nephew Bill Maxwell; five great-grand children and many other extended family members and friends.
Remembrances can be made by donating to Back Country Horsemen or the Wallowa County Humane Society in Enterprise.