Pearl Irene (McLaren) Sahlberg passed away Oct. 27, with her family and friends at her side.
Pearl was born July 26, 1931, at the family ranch on Poison Creek to George (Dewey) and Irene McLaren.
When she reached school age, she walked or rode her horse to the Poison Creek School before transferring to Burns Grade School. Much of her early childhood was spent on Steens Mountain and in Catlow Valley where her dad worked for Joe Fine and the Pacific Livestock Company building fences. She often recalled the severe lightning storms on the Steens, and how she would be afraid and go to her bedroom (an old Buick) and cover her head.
On Sept. 4, 1946, she married Theodor “Ted” Perry, and they were blessed with two daughters, Bonnie and Teddy. They were married for 55 years until his passing.
They then moved to Seneca where Ted worked for the state highway department for two years. They returned to Burns where he worked for Edward Hines Lumber Company, making their home on E. Washington. Pearl remained there until 2014.
Pearl loved the outdoors. She liked fishing, but her heart was in hunting, especially elk. One of her last words spoken was to the doctor when she told him she needed to get out of the hospital to get ready for her planned elk hunt. She won the big buck contest at Harris Hardware one year, but when she went to claim her rifle, they wouldn’t give it to her because she was a woman. Rock hounding was a passion that developed into a part-time carer when she began faceting and making jewelry. She had two degrees in faceting, and many of her wares were distributed to the New York City area.
She was very active in the community, supporting several organizations she considered doing good for the community. She was a 26-year member of the American Legion Auxiliary and served as vice president and poppy chair for several years. She served on the board of directors for the Burns Lions Club and the Harney County Senior Center, also volunteering as hostess for the weekly meals. She was also a member of the Harney County Historical Society and District 9 Oregon Oldtime Fiddlers.
Pearl was very family-oriented and cared deeply for them. She especially enjoyed hosting family dinners and making her delicious home pies. It wasn’t unusual for her to prepare for 30 to 40, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. She spent many hours taking care of her father, mother, and husband during their last years, keeping them at home with help from Home Health and Hospice.
Pearl had a deep belief in God and His promises to His children. She attended several churches throughout the years, looking for that special church she could call home. That search ended when she found Pioneer Presbyterian Church. Everyone treated each other as family, and the love shown by the entire congregation was very evident. On Jan. 25, 2015, she was baptized at age 84, becoming the oldest adult Pastor Jean had baptized. She was well-liked and respected by her “new” family, and was very thankful for the support they gave her.
Through her volunteer work at Harney County Senior Center, Pearl became reacquainted with the man whom she had a childhood “crush” on as a young school girl. On Sept. 19, 2014, she was married to George Sahlberg, and was able to have three of her happiest years with him in spite of her failing health. She had complete trust in him and, toward the end, she wouldn’t take her medications from the nurses unless George told her it was OK. She had been in failing health for the past year, and in the past two months, she was hurting to the point she was asking God, “Please take me home.”
Pearl is survived by her husband, George; daughters, Bonnie (Cliff) Aamodt, Teddy (Bob) Choate; stepdaughter, Pam (Frank) Feeley; stepson, Carl Sahlberg; grandchildren, Tina Potter, Mary Reser, Thomas Jones, Justin Aamodt, and Misty Zipser; great-grandchildren, Michael Binder, Timothy Binder, Bob Reser, Toya Jones, Calli Chesley, Riley Aamodt, Emil Aamodt, Wyatt Zipser, Colton Zipser, and Wyatt Gibson; and great-great-grandchildren, Avery Binder, Owen Binder, and Kaidan Gibson. Also surviving her are special friends, Bob and Jackie Drinkwater, Dave and Lynette Vickstrom, and Annis Lesher, as well as many in-laws.
She was preceded in death by Theodore Perry; her parents, George (Dewey) and Irene McLaren; grandson, Hank Gibson; great-granddaughter, Mikaela Reser; and two older brothers.
Services were held Nov. 2 at Pioneer Presbyterian Church with Pastor Jean Hurst officiating. Burial was in the family plot at Burns Cemetery.
Contributions in Pearl Sahlberg’s memory may be made to the Pioneer Presbyterian Church or to the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center in care of LaFollette’s Chapel. P.O. Box 488, Burns, OR 97720.