IN MEMORIAM: Winnifred Jane Roby Becker


Winnifred Jane Roby Becker

Winnifred Jane Roby was born in Coquille to Mary Elizabeth Womack Roby and Chester Elbert Roby, the fifth of eight children. When Winnifred was a few years old, the family moved to northeastern Oregon, near Enterprise. After suffering the loss of her mother at age 12, Winnifred graduated in three years from high school and gained employment with Pacific Power and Light, Company in Enterprise. . She was employed by the Post Intelligence Department of the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., and took night classes at University of Puget Sound Winnifred’s undergraduate work was at Washington State College, where she was treasurer for her Delta Zeta chapter, in addition to a full course load. She attended Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago where she was graduated in physical therapy. Winnifred served on the staff at Passavant Memorial Hospital, (part of Rush-Presbyterian-Loyola). She accepted a position as chief of physical therapy in the physical medicine department at University of Georgia Medical School in Augusta, Ga. While chief, she also helped establish a crippled children’s division. She worked with patients at Hines Veteran’s Hospital in Chicago, helping to physically retrain some of the many returning World War II injured. In early 1949, Winnifred Roby became the first executive director of the newly formed Portland Rehabilitation Center of the Physically Handicapped. She felt a unique obligation to provide continuing effective rehabilitation for all patients whose lives the Center was privileged to assist. It was important to assure this resource continued, leading to the merger of the center with other rehabilitation entities in the Portland area to become the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon. As RIO’s first executive director from 1949 to 1951, she wrote, “We must never forget the real purpose for which the center was organized – the salvation of the best in those who have been disabled through injury and disease.” Winnifred married Herman H. Becker in 1950, and enjoyed their 56 years together until his passing in 2006. They were blessed with three children, Ralph, Jennifer, and Kirsten. In the early 1970’s, Winnifred returned to the classroom to become a teacher for the Portland Public Schools. She received her Master of Arts in education from Portland State University in 1977. Her teaching career included, among others, West Sylvan Elementary, Ockley Green Elementary, and George Elementary. Having spent much of her youth near the Wallowas, Winnifred had a passion for the out-of-doors and staying close to Nature’s beauty. Her many activities and interests included both her community and the environment. She was a long-time member of the Mazamas and climbed St. Helen’s twice (pre and post eruption), Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and received the Hardesty Cup in 1999 for preserving public access to the Bonanza Trail. Winnifred successfully fought a legal battle to preserve public right-of-way to the Bonanza Trailhead. In addition, she received the 100 Trails Award in 1999. She participated in work parties to re-open trails to hikers such as the Cathedral Trail from Hood River to Mount Hood. A long-time member of the First Presbyterian Church of Portland, she served as elder, deacon, and supported her family’s long-time participation in the choir. She held special places in her heart for the Stephens Ministry, and the Open Circle women’s group. Winnifred Roby Becker is survived by one brother, Delbert Roby of Kamiah, Idaho; her son, Ralph Becker, his wife, and four grandchildren; and daughters, Jennifer Becker, and Kirsten Becker. She is predeceased by three brothers, three sisters and one grandchild. We, her family, are profoundly grateful for the gift of her life. In lieu of flowers, the family asked donations be made in Winnifred Roby Becker’s name to: Friendly House; Mazamas; Friends of the Columbia Gorge; or the Oregon Food Bank.

[Henry & Elizabeth Matheny Hewitt > Adam Hewitt > Myrtle Hewitt Becker > Herman Becker married to Winnifred Becker]

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