Alta Rose Robirts (Schmidt) passed away Dec. 19, marking the end of life’s long journey for the granddaughter of two of Harney County’s earliest pioneers. Her grandparents, Samuel and Willamina King, came to the basin in 1884. They established a homestead north of Burns at what came to be known as Thousand Springs Ranch. Her parents, B. Frank and Catherine King, were also lifelong residents, continuing with the ranch, as well as establishing a presence in Hines, with King Avenue being named after them.
Rose, as she was affectionately called, was born Sept. 23, 1924. Learning the meaning of hard work at the ranch, and many other places throughout the county, became a characteristic she displayed throughout her life. At the age of 90, her family would watch her bake her special lemon pies and prepare other items. When asked what she was up to, she answered it was part of her going to the senior center to “help out the old people”.
Rose married Frank W. Schmidt, and the two soon acquired the beginnings of a ranch in the area known as Potter Swamp. It became known as Rimrock Ranch. They had four children while together, Duane, Sandee, Jerry, and Frank. The family went on to include 23 grandchildren, and innumerable great- and great-great-grandchildren.
Rose and Frank eventually sold the ranch in1968. They later divorced, after which she married Jim Robirts of Harney County. They remained together until Jim’s death in 2001.
Almost any parents living in Harney County who gave birth to children at the Harney District Hospital from the 60s through most of the 90s have most assuredly crossed paths with Rose. She worked at the hospital for 35 years, almost all of which was spent in obstetrics. She would occasionally remark that she has probably held a good third of the current residents in her arms at on time or another. She was loved by most all that knew her, and will be sorely missed by friends and family.
A funeral service for Rose will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 24, at the Burns Christian Church. Please, no flowers. If you would like to make a donation to the Harney County Food Bank in her name, that would be so appropriate, as Rose never allowed anyone who wandered close to her home to go away hungry. Come help friends and family wish her well as she moves on to a new journey.