Lourana Ellen Preston Echanis, 97, of Ontario, Oregon, passed away peacefully on September 16, 2023, surrounded by her children. A celebration of Lourana’s life will be held October 14, 2023 at 1 pm at St. Peter’s Church Hall in Ontario, OR.
Lourana Ellen Preston was born November 3, 1925, in Great Falls, Montana daughter of Phil and Helen Preston. Lou had 2 brothers Phil and Frank and a sister Pat.
Lou’s parents moved to Idaho in 1941 – where she started school as a junior at Ontario High School. Lou was quite the trend setter as she pulled up to school with Montana plates, red hair, rolled at the bottom jeans and smokes. From her first day of high school her peers and friends called her Montana. Lou graduated from Ontario High School in 1943. She began working for Consolidated Freightways and was asked to go to Idaho Falls three months after graduation to open a new store, with her two best friends Jennie Blair and Dotty Rusk.
In 1945 Lou got her pilot’s license, she was the first out of only 2 women to accomplish this. She was also the first to solo from Ontario, she flew to Caldwell, Emmett and then to Boise. On her flight back from Boise she thought she had the Malheur Butte in focus but instead it was the Baker Mountains, her flight instructor watched her fly by and almost had a heart attack.
After caring for her father for 2 years she finally went to University of Oregon, she pledged Kappa Alpha Theta. Between her freshman and sophomore year she began dating the love of her life Carmelo Echanis.
Carmelo and Lourana were married September 20, 1947, at Blessed Sacrament Church in Ontario, the reception at the Moore Hotel where over 500 guests were present, followed by the Basque reception in the evening at the boarding house. The evening reception was noted in the newspaper as IMPRESSIVE as throngs of people attended. Cam and Lou were finally able to leave after well-wishers had hidden their travel bags and attached noise-and-smoke emitting bombs (Basque always did like their bombs) to the motor of their new car heading to Banff and Lake Louise.
Cam and Lou had 4 children: Susie, John, Reme Jo and Stephanie.
Lou was always working whether it was at the U.S. Bank, The Sale Yard, Commodities Office, Echanis Distributing or planning their next adventure; she was always busy. She was active in the Basque Club and in 1947 she became a charter member of the Ontario Basque Club. As one of the founding members, she is in the 27th annual Hall of Fame for being a member for 50 years, along with her sister-in-law Josephine Keim. Lou had a deep love for her family especially her sister-in-law Josephine. She had many friends that she was constantly in contact with through cocktail parties, dinners, trips, phone calls, emails, and letters. Lou loved playing cards, she was involved in Bridge Club, where they met weekly for cards, drinks, and food. This love for cards started long ago and it is something she has passed on to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Cam and Lou were able to spend much of their time vacationing at desired locations for golf. They visited more than 41 countries, and at last count, Lou has been to Spain at least 13 times. One of Cam and Lou's last trips to Spain they took their children, their spouses, and their grandchildren. This was the beginning of yearly family reunions that Lou continued so that she could have this extended time with her entire family together; 38 of us! Lou spent an extended weekend this past July at The House of Metolius with her family and attended a grandchild's wedding in August in Hood River.
Lou is survived by her children Susie (Mike) McGinley, John (Mary) Echanis, Stephanie (Nick) Merriman, Reme Jo Echanis. Her grandchildren Storm (Mike) Tharp, Matt (Brandy) Echanis, Colesie (Peter) Bonocontro, Bradi (Luke) Fritts, Chuck Echanis, Cam (Mindy) Tharp, Nick (Brittney) Merriman, Drew (Lauren) Echanis, Jake (Anne) Merriman, Matea (Luke) Nelson and great grandchildren Madison, Payton, Lou, Salvatore, Josephine, Hudson, Wyatt, Mac, Tatum, Will, John, Sam, Quinn, Ronin and Baby Echanis.
The entire family would like to extend our deep appreciation for the kind services of Heart and Home Hospice. The family requests, in lieu of flowers, donations in Memory of Lourana Echanis to Manchester Ice Rink in McCall Idaho and the Ontario Basque Club.