'We've got it all'

Greg and Lois Phillips sit in their home in Weston, where they've lived for about a year. On the walls behind them are photos of family reunions at their 40 acres in the Blue Mountains near Meacham.<br><I>Staff photo by Samantha Bates

Greg and Lois Phillips moved to Weston a year ago, but a part of them has called the Blue Mountains home for 20 years.

That's how long they've owned 40 acres near Meacham, and it's where they've held family reunions every summer. The Phillips have been married for 53 years and have four children, 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

"And a couple foster kids we call grandkids," added Lois. All of them have spent a few weeks in the summertime in the Blue Mountains.

"We had 45 in Meacham last year," Greg said.

Their family is spread across the country. As Lois put it, while Greg had a career in the Air Force, each kid seemed to pick out their future spouses in different parts of the U.S. If it wasn't for the mountain acreage, those physically distant family relations might not have come together so often, and they might not be as close as they are now.

"What's most special is they have each other," Lois said. "Just having each other, spending time together and making the effort to communicate every summer."

After Greg retired from the Air Force, he worked in several industrial jobs and Lois worked as a registered nurse. They retired on the same day in December 1997.

"We're a team," Greg said.

A few years ago they realized they liked their time in the mountains more than their time in Portland, and began looking for a home within 100 miles of Meacham - close enough they could go whenever they wanted.

After scouring every town from Pendleton to Milton-Freewater to Baker City, they settled on the home they found in Weston. They had some very specific needs. Lois, for instance, wanted enough room for a garden.

The home they ended up with is a century-old ranch house on the corner of Water and Key streets in Weston, near Smith Frozen Foods. Like many old houses in Eastern Oregon, the home looks a bit like a living museum, with bright wood trim on the inside and big circular bay windows on the outside. The Phillips have filled many of the walls with photos, all taken of family members at reunions in Meacham.

Upon arriving in Weston a year ago, the Phillips said they were nervous the old families in town wouldn't like newcomers. They found Weston to be the opposite.

"We love it,"?Lois said. "They're very friendly. People couldn't have been more welcoming."

"People go out of their way to welcome us and be open to us,"?Greg said. "We think it could be the best-kept secret in Oregon."

Living in Weston has brought some adjustments from the big city. They've found working on their 40 acres in Meacham to be a job in itself.

"We don't need to join a health club,"?Lois joked, "We get all our exercise up there."

The Phillips have found they quite like living in Weston, and being even closer to the Blue Mountains.

"We've been blessed with a good family, good kids and good health,"?Lois said. "And we've got a good furnace. It keeps us warm."

"And we've got each other,"?Greg added. "We've got it all."

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