Dorothy June (Sylvester) Opel was born June 3, 1928 in Lebanon to Ed and Mabel Sylvester of Lacomb. Her dad was a logger and they lived in a mill camp when she was young and growing up. She told many tales about living there as a kid: swinging on the viny maples, riding a bike on the cord wood road, cracks in the walls big enough to “throw a cat through”, but mostly about a loving and close family, older brother, Stanley Sylvester of Lebanon; an older sister, Betty Ann Force of Salem; and younger sister, Marjorie “Marge” Cox of Hillsboro.
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Later they built and moved to a house on Beaver Creek in the Lacomb area, where the stories became ones of walking to school, picking raspberries, black caps and pole beans in the summer, riding horses, and farm chores. She loved being outside the most, so was usually the one working in the garden, flowerbeds, and helping around the ranch. She also enjoyed helping with the canning and preserving of the garden produce, as they always had a big garden that grew down by the creek.
When she was old enough to attend high school, she moved to town and lived with her grandmother across from the skating rink. She also worked as a waitress at the bowling alley downtown and would tell stories of how at 14 she served the many servicemen from World War II that were training at Adair. She also worked at the Ben Franklin store in town, where she met the love of her life, Oren Opel, freshly back from the war, having served in the Aleutian Islands.
Their attraction was immediate and they were married a week later. They built a home on a two-acre piece of property just south of town in the country on Vaughan Lane in the Lebanon area and raised their two girls: Linda Hayes Helget, and Nancy Dennis Giboney of Lebanon.
Dorothy, a stay at home mom, was a member of the KYN (Know Your Neighbor) formed of the ladies living on Vaughan Lane; went through life guard training and worked at Sweet Home pool; enjoyed attending her church –First Baptist of Lebanon—and working within her missionary circle and Sunday School teacher duties; along with her work as a volunteer at the Lebanon Hospital. She was particularly proud of her involvement of the Healing Garden that she enjoyed while doing chemo at the infusion center.
Life was good for them…..fishing trips, camping, gardening, enjoying family, and later, after retirement a lot of travel. They particularly enjoyed loading up the motor home and heading South for the winter, especially to the Death Valley area. They both looked forward to going until Oren could no longer get around enough.
At that point, they settled for staying home on the home place, the “Double O Rancho”. The garden was smaller, but the place always looked like a park, with the beautiful green grass and the well-groomed flowerbeds.
After Oren passed away in 2016, the home place was too much to take care of and Dorothy moved into a cottage in what is now Meadowlark Senior Living. She enjoyed the life there, meeting new people, making new friends and even went on some of the outings.
In the fall of 2018, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and decided to do chemo treatments, which she sailed right through and were successful. This fall, a mutated form of the cancer came back and she decided not do the chemo again, rather choosing that time to enjoy her family and friends for whatever time she had. There were many whom came to visit with her these last weeks of her life and she always enjoyed seeing those whom came to visit, especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Dorothy is survived by her two daughters, Linda (Ted) Helget, and Nancy (Clark) Giboney; brother, Stanley Sylvester, Lebanon; and sister Marge Cox of Hillsboro. Grandchildren are: Layne Hayes, Anna Dennis-Kelly, Dan Dennis, (wife Sarah) all of Lebanon; and Shane Hayes (wife Lori) of Lacey, Washington. Great-grandchildren are: Damon Hayes, Ellensburg, Washington; Talon and Draven Dennis, Sophia and Athena Kelly, and Jayden Hayes all of Lebanon; Collin and Taylor Ann Hayes, Lacey, Washington. Step grandchildren: Matthew (Jolene) Helget, and Nick (Trena) Helget of Lebanon, Travis (Stephanie) Giboney of Crawfordsville; and Kevin (Karin) Giboney of Brier, Washington; and step great-grandchildren, along with many nieces, nephews.
She was proceeded in death by husband, Oren Opel; and sister, Betty Ann Force of Salem.
A viewing will be Friday, December 6 from 10 a.m. to Noon at Huston-Jost Funeral Home. A graveside service will follow at 1 p.m. at the IOOF Cemetery in Lebanon. A reception will be held afterwards at Nancy Giboney’s home at 700 E Sherman St., Lebanon.
In lieu of flowers, donations to either First Baptist Church or the Grant Street Church of Christ in Lebanon.