Erna Green Murri passed away peacefully at the age of 91 on Friday, August 20, 2021, in Enterprise, Oregon. She battled vascular and heart disease in her later years and made several miraculous recoveries, but was finally “ready to go” shortly after a massive stroke. We will miss her, but we’re also happy for her—she lived a good, long life with a fair share of love and adventure.
Erna was born at home in Alta, Wyoming in 1930 and grew up along the banks of Teton Creek. The second of six children, her parents were hoping for a boy after the birth of her older sister, so instead of “Ernest” after her father as they had planned, they named her “Erna.”
She graduated from Teton Valley High School in 1949 where she played basketball and had many friends. She then attended business college and put her typing and short-hand skills to use as a secretary in Idaho Falls.
Erna married an entertaining, dark-haired young man named Robert D. “Bob” Murri in 1951. The couple soon had three daughters (Nola, Karyn, and Nelda) while living in Idaho Falls and one more (Peggy) shortly after moving to Salem, Oregon in 1964. Erna didn’t like the snow—when she was little, she preferred doing the dishes to any of the outside farm chores—so living in the Willamette Valley was a welcome change from the long winters in the Tetons.
She and Bob built a modest house in the countryside outside of Salem and lived there together until Bob passed away in 2005 at the age of 76.
Mom had an adventurous streak. Family vacations were spent on horseback trips in the Tetons or at the Oregon Coast. She played many roles in her life—daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, and homemaker—also thoroughbred horse trainer, landlady, backpacker, and quilter. Erna learned to quilt from her mother, Vada. Her skill and artistry grew over the years, and among the most prized possessions in our family are her beautiful hand-sewn quilts. She loved the idea of Bigfoot—later in life she made Bigfoot quilts that make us all hope he is out there.
Mom loved good food—especially homemade pie, fresh apricots, corned beef and cabbage, and banana dessert. She went through stages as a homemaker making butter, jam, bread, caramels, and fruit preserves. As a child of the depression, she knew how to cook a good meal on a budget and how to sew her own clothing. She was an old-school expert at “reduce, reuse, recycle” and composted everything she could.
Mom loved family get-togethers, movies, bird-watching, interesting stories, dogs, and cats. She was soft-hearted and loved her children, grandchildren, and grand-dogs unconditionally. Perhaps the greatest gift she gave her daughters was letting us decide for ourselves what to believe about life. She raised us to be independent and to follow our own paths. We all turned out a bit stubborn, just like her—but also strong, self-reliant, and resilient, just like her. We are strong because a strong woman raised us.
Erna was greatly loved and will be missed by the family she left behind: her three brothers—Del Green of Spokane, WA, Ben Green and Ken Green of the Teton Valley; her four daughters—Nola Driskell of Enterprise, OR; Karyn Kistner of Salem, OR; Nelda Murri of Lostine, OR; and Peggy Rollens of Boise, Idaho. And her five grandchildren and one great-grandchild—Simon Driskell of La Grande, OR; Blake Clark of Tehachapi, CA; Miles Driskell of Twin Falls, ID; Zane Kistner of Salem, OR; Chloe Rollens of Seattle, WA; and the newest addition to our family—great-grandson Henry Driskell.
We hope that the bravery, strength, and integrity she displayed throughout her life will carry on inside all of us. In her later years, Mom went through a phase where she absolutely insisted on paying for everyone’s meal whenever we’d go out to eat. Wherever she is now, we’re pretty sure that she’s insisting on paying the bill. In lieu of a donation in her name, please enjoy a hot fudge sundae in our mom’s honor. She would love that.
Erna (Green) Murri 07/08/1930 - 08/20/2021