Ileana Oakes

Obituary of Ileana Louise Oakes

Ileana Louise Oakes went to Heaven to be with her family on December 17, 2022. She was born September 2, 1927, to Louis “Bud” and Hazel Sherman in Ontario, Oregon. She had three sisters, one brother, and a half-sister. They didn’t meet their older half-sister, Helen until Helen was an adult. The siblings were all extremely close throughout their entire lives - sending letters, calling each other, and visiting, no matter the distance. Ileana grew up listening to her mother sing hymns and cowboy songs, hunting and riding horses with her dad and siblings, and teaching imaginary school at her grandparents’. Most of her early years were spent at her family’s ranch up Cottonwood Creek near Ironside. As she and her siblings grew older, they went to live with their grandparents during the school year so they could attend school in Robinette and Ontario. Henry and Mae Westfall, Ileana’s grandparents, were a huge influence on her life. Whenever they had a break from school, they would return to Ironside and their parents’ ranch.

Ileana graduated from Ontario High School in 1945. She went on to the College of Idaho and then graduated from Eastern Oregon State College. Ileana was the first in her family to earn a college degree. She milked cows for her grandparents, worked at the roller-skating rink in Ontario, and then as a bookkeeper, before getting a job teaching bookkeeping in Payette, Idaho. In 1955, she started teaching English at Ontario High School.

Ileana married Donald Oakes of Ironside, Oregon on September 7, 1952. They split their time between the ranch in Ironside and their house in Ontario, where she continued teaching English at Ontario High School. Their son, Charles, was born in 1959. She was required to sit at the back of the classroom that year while a substitute taught her classes because a pregnant teacher was deemed a bad example for students. She quit teaching in 1961 to rear her family. She attended Portland State University, Eastern Oregon State College, and the University of Oregon for her master’s degree during the summers while Charles was a baby. Their daughter, Karen, was born in 1963. Ileana returned to teaching in 1969 after their daughter was in first grade. Ileana continued to teach English at Ontario High School until her retirement in 1986. She won several awards for her outstanding teaching during the 23 years she taught in Ontario. Ileana taught her younger sister, Julia, as well as her own children during her time as an English teacher at Ontario High School. She was a strict teacher, but beloved by the students for her genuine interest and concern for them. Ileana inspired her students to create amazing Shakespearean projects, read books, memorize lines from plays and poems, and produce 30-page research projects. She would often go to students’ homes with assignments and help when the students were not able to come to class for several days. Many dropped by her home for further help with their studies or just to chat about what all they had done since graduation. After she retired from teaching, she moved back to Ironside full-time and helped take care of the ranch and her grandchildren.

Ileana grew up in the Baptist Church but became a very active member of the Presbyterian Church, which she joined after her marriage. She was really involved with the AAUW for several years. Ileana believed in and adhered to a strict code of moral Christian conduct and honesty with empathy and understanding for others. Ileana was admired for being a classy lady with high standards, who always dressed in style for any occasion, whether it was attending an event or having a family dinner. Her hobbies included sewing, cooking, reading, traveling, watching movies, fishing with her family, and horseback riding. She took great pride in serving delicious meals to everyone who ventured near her home in Ironside around mealtimes. One of her specialties was making pie. She could bake 60 fruit pies in a day to perfection with her trademark thin crust. Her favorite things in life were her family and teaching students. In her later years, she loved looking out the window of her home in Ironside and watching the birds and animals in the fields. It was a joy to listen to her read stories aloud because of the feeling and inflection she poured into them. Her grandkids and great-grandkids held a special place in her heart and she supported them with love and encouragement in any way she could.

She was preceded in death by her parents, “Bud” and Hazel Sherman, her half-sister Helen (Tom) Atkins, her sister Bonnie (Carl) Vincent, brother Hank (Maureen) Sherman, sister Iris (Keith) Kendall, and sister Julia (Arden) Steiniker, as well as their spouses, and her son-in-law, Mike Riggin. Her husband, Donald Oakes, followed her to Heaven on December 20, 2022. She is survived by her son Charles (Sandra) Oakes, daughter Karen (Dwight) Ramer, granddaughter Jessica (Drew) Morris, granddaughter Kristy (Blake) Herman, grandson Hunter (Anna) Oakes and Hunter’s mother Jean Lindley, and great-grandchildren Caitlyn Wilson, Michael Wilson, and Dalton Morris as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and other beloved family members.

A joint memorial service for Donald and Ileana will be held at the Bethany Presbyterian Church in Ontario, Oregon on March 25th at 2:00 p.m. There will be a graveside service in Ironside on March 26th at 3:00 p.m. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made in Donald and Ileana’s name to a church of your choice or the Donald & Ileana Oakes Memorial Scholarship at Ontario High School.



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