BOARDMAN - Alice Tatone portrays the true spirit of a modern day pioneer woman.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Tatone joined the Navy's Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), an organization created for women during World War II. She was the first WAVE in Oregon and was sworn in over Radio Station KOIN on the Johnny Carpenter Show.
"I was sent to Oklahoma A and M College in Stillwater, Oklahoma," she said. "There were boot camps for women there. I attended college there until my uniform came in. I had signed up with a friend and the Navy said we could be stationed together, but she ended up in California and I ended up in Jacksonville, Florida."
Later, she transferred to San Francisco to be closer to her father, who was ill. There she me her husband-to-be, Joe Tatone.
He was in stationed in the South Pacific and was on leave in San Francisco.
"We took leave at the same time and came home to Arlington," she said. "While there we decided to get married. We go a license in Pasco."
The couple was married on Aug. 26, 1944.
"I had known Joe for several years," Tatone said. "My brothers and sisters were friends with his brothers and sisters, and in those days Boardman and Arlington were competitive in sports."
She resigned from the Navy after her marriage, because her contract stated "if she married a man in the same branch of the service and outranked him, she would resign."
After her husband left the Navy, the Tatones moved to Arlington and ran a dry cleaning and laundry business.
Later the couple moved to Portland, where Tatone used her G.I. Bill to attend Reed College for one year while her husband worked and attended night school at Portland State University.
While in Portland the Tatones had two daughters, Linda Joe in 1950 and Jody in 1952.
Shortly after their youngest daughter's birth the family moved to Boardman permanently to work on the Cottage Inn in Boardman. The Tatones had become partners in the restaurant in 1948 while still in Portland.
"When Linda was 2 and Jody 2-months-old we moved to Boardman to protect our interest in the restaurant and lounge," Alice said. "We had three different locations in Boardman over the years."
Originally, the Cottage Inn was on the old Boardman Highway. Later it became the Hitching Post Cafe, and finally the couple built the Dodge City Inn Restaurant and Lounge, which Tatone still owns and operates with her oldest daughter.
She and her husband were determined to keep the city of Boardman growing and prosperous. The Tatones owned and operated many businesses and built the Tatone Building to house the Boardman Post Office.
Her husband died April 18, 1999, but Tatone was determined to keep his spirit alive. The family began a memorial golf tournament, which benefits Boardman charities, including the Riverside High School golf team, exercise equipment for the Boardman Senior Center and a Veteran's Memorial in memory of Joe.
Tatone has always been community minded. She served as a 4-H leader, district representative for Camp Fire Boys and Girls and helped establish Boardman's first library.
She also served as an officer on the Oregon Federation of Women's Clubs both at the district and state levels, on the board of Blue Mountain Community College and as a counselor for Western Business University in Portland.
When she joined the Navy, Tatone promised her father to someday complete her college education. In 1991, she graduated with a bachelor of science degree from Eastern Oregon University.
"When I was 69-years-old I graduated from college," she said. "I promised dad I would finish. He died before I got that done, but it was just as important to me."
Tatone still has two personal goals left, one is to fly and the other is to speak Spanish fluently. She has taken flying lessons and passed her written test toward her pilot's license. She's also taken Spanish lessons.
Carol Marcum is the Community Editor in the East Oregonian's Hermiston Bureau. She can be reached (800) 522-0255 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Joseph Tatone Memorial is near the Captain Al James memorial just off the Columbia River Heritage Trail. It honors all who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
"We wanted it where as many people as possible could see it. The Port of Morrow had just the place and set it up for us," said Alice Tatone, wife of the late Joe Tatone.
The memorial will be dedicate April 18, the anniversary of Tatone's death and the night before the Joe Tatone Memorial Golf Tournament.