Obituaries & Tributes

Betty Bahn

Betty Eileen Axley Bahn departed this life on May 15, 2020, in her beloved hometown of Yachats, Oregon after a brief battle with cancer. She was 80 years old and as always in May, she had a few flats of plants she’d propagated, ready for the next Seal Rock Garden Club plant sale.

Betty was born on Nov. 8, 1939, and spent her early years in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Her love of the outdoors, and for Yachats in particular, began at an early age. Some of her fondest memories are of canoeing, fishing, and swimming on the Yachats River, and of summers with her Aunt Peg and Uncle Bill Imrie on a wheat & cattle ranch in eastern Washington. Musically gifted, she performed as a drum majorette and played several instruments. She graduated from North Salem High School in 1957.

She achieved a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Oregon Health Sciences University (then the University of Oregon School of Nursing – Doernbecher Children’s Hospital) in 1962. Her 55-year career included 15 years in the recovery room at Multicare Allenmore Hospital in Tacoma, Washington and 12 years as a home health care specialist, then volunteer, for Pacific Communities Hospital in Lincoln County, Oregon. Her persistence, her willingness to try innovative treatments, and her ability to make allies in the health care system were formidable. Families are grateful for her kindness, confidence and drive.

Betty was married to Dr. Cordell Hunt Bahn from 1967-1991, and they raised two children, Arah and Michael in Tacoma, Washington and Bend, Oregon. She often said that her greatest accomplishments were her two children. However, both would attest to her triumphs in nursing and in the community and are duly humbled.

Finally returning to Yachats in 1991, where she had extensive family ties dating back to the late 1800’s, she was a master gardener for 13 years, and taught classes for Lincoln County Master Gardeners. She devoted years of care and love to developing the Yachats Community Park and Wetlands, overseeing the Lincoln County Demonstration and Community Garden, and making monthly beach reports for Hatfield Marine Science Center’s CoastWatch.

Despite living not so far from her birthplace for most of her life, Betty had an adventuresome spirit and traveled widely. An avid “birder,” Betty traveled around the west and beyond, to work on her life list, including the Galapagos Islands, Iceland, and Midway Island. Her favorite bird, the Black-headed Grosbeak, returned to her backyard feeders recently, after a long hiatus. She loved spending time in her Grumman canoe or other whitewater-worthy crafts on the Colorado, Deschutes, John Day, Yakima, Rogue, Salmon and Owyhee Rivers, and in Canada’s Broken Islands National Park.

Betty was a passionate fan of the Olympic Games, winter or summer. In 2002, she attended the Salt Lake City winter games with her family, many layers of warm ski clothes, and a few very noisy cowbells.

A student of early Oregon history and lover of great stories, Betty often regaled and educated listeners with tales. These include detailed accounts of growing up as a country doctor’s kid, the provenance of a Siletz salmon paddle, and the saga of a discerning osprey.

Betty is survived by daughter Arah (Steve), son Michael (Laura), her ex-husband Cordell, her orange tabby cat OJ and the loving community of Yachats. She was preceded in death by her parents, Nora Wann and Harold Axley, her Aunt Peg and Uncle Bill Imrie, her sister Helen Hewitt and her dear friend, Bob Powell.

A celebration of Betty’s life will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Chintimini Wildlife Rehabilitation.



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