June 7, 1930 — January 15, 2020
Harry Eugene Noble was born on June 7, 1930, in Klamath Falls, Oregon, to parents Willard and Helen C. (Vorce) Noble. He died on January 15, 2020, at his home in Hermiston, Oregon, at the age of 89 years.
Harry was raised in the Langell Valley on a ranch and rode a horse to school through the second grade. Then his folks transported him to Bonanza to school, where he later graduated. Harry lettered in basketball, football and boxing. While in high school he worked for the Garner Lundy Ranch and contracted hay hauling in the summer. Harry rode every kind of horse, cow and bull that he could get to buck on the ranches.
After graduating, he went to work for Campbell and Gerber Ranches in Bly, Oregon, until he joined the Navy in 1950. After boot camp he was stationed on a sea plane tender in the Pacific for two years, running the crane that hoisted the planes to the ship deck to be repaired. He then requested a tour of duty in Hawaii for his last two years. While stationed in Hawaii, he played polo, shod the horses and helped organize the first rodeo held there.
After being discharged from the Navy in 1954, he pursued the rodeo lifestyle, among others, competing in the Pendleton Round-Up where he met his bride-to-be and love of his life, Helen Maxine Steagall, at the Happy Canyon dance. He won the Northwest Bucking Championship, and liked to say he won the buckle, girl and all. They were married November 14, 1954, in her home town of Irrigon, Oregon. They settled on the Noble Ranch in the Langell Valley, where he rode colts, raised cattle and traveled to rodeos. While on the ranch, they had two daughters, Jody and Jerita.
They moved to Klamath Falls in 1959 and then to Hawaii in 1960 where he managed Saddle City, a western resort at Waimanolo, Oahu. He had to take some bucking stock and good help, Billy Liskey, from the mainland to be able to put on some good rodeos for the Gibson family. He taught riding and rough stock lessons to many students. Buddy Gibson, Helen and the crew took folks out on popular trail rides at the resort. He moved his family back to Klamath Falls in 1961 to be closer to family.
Harry went to work for Francis D. Brown Logging Co., loading logs, building roads and running their crane rental service while continuing to rodeo.
In the spring of 1967, he moved the family to Helen’s home area to run a ranch for Joe Tatone in Boardman, Oregon. In the fall of 1968 he went to work for Philippi Ranches and moved to Hermiston on their pasture ranch. He and the girls also helped on the Boardman and Arlington ranches for many years, working cattle, training horses, tractor work and moving irrigation.
He said the girls were as good help as he could ask for and was proud of them and their accomplishments. They bought 33 acres just below the ranch to build an arena and kept rodeoing and running their HJN Noble arena.
After 11 years he quit the ranch and got into the union to build up some retirement and drove for CBTC in Pasco, Washington. They put a truck terminal on our place so Harry and other drivers dispatched from here for five years, before the company sold. He then went into construction running heavy equipment. This took him to Cascade Locks, Oregon; Lake Chelan, Washington; Florida; Virginia; Colorado; back to Central Point; Corvallis; and Boardman, Oregon, before retiring from the union. He continued to work part time for Madison’s, running equipment and building roads as well as taking care of a herd of cattle for a few years. Finally retiring from everything and selling all the bucking horses early in 2004, they turned the arena facilities and pasture over to the Belyeas.
His rodeo accomplishments in his 45 years of competition included winning many championships in Hawaii, the last Northwest Bucking Championship in 1954 that was held at the Pendleton Round-Up, several RCA Saddle Bronc Championships, and NRA Year End Saddle Bronc Championship for 1969, 1970, and 1971. He worked as a pickup man for Christiansen Brothers and Howells Rodeo Stock Contractors for many years as well as judging a lot of rodeos. He put on rough stock schools and worked with BMCC, Eastern Oregon and Walla Walla College rough stock teams for many years in his arena. He was a Gold Card member of the PRCA and NPRA rodeo associations.
Harry was a family man and always took his family with him to rodeos and etc. He was honest, a hard worker, and a good provider. Harry had a big heart and was ready to share and help anyone in any way he could. He loved the arena and helping young kids get a good start if they wanted to learn to ride or rope. We used the arena for rodeos from pee-wee, junior, high school, college and benefits. We had timed event series jackpots, barrel races, buckouts and 4-H for over 30 years. He had a talent for training good working horses to do anything and got his girls mounted on good barrel racing horses at an early age. Harry knew good horses and was an honest horse trader.
He was a lifetime member of the Pendleton Round-Up Hall of Fame and VFW. He was a member of the Elks for over 40 years, Friends of Rodeo and Christian Cowboys. He was raised in the Lorella Full Gospel Church in the Langell Valley in Oregon.
Harry enjoyed sports, especially watching his girls, grandkids, great-grandkids and nephew Rocky Steagall, as well as the kids he helped in the rodeos and their activities. He also enjoyed herding cattle, fishing, hunting and playing a little golf with family. Harry played the guitar, sang old cowboy songs and gospel hymns and enjoyed the jam sessions with family and friends. Assisted living folks loved his music. He also was quite a dancer. He loved to beat anyone who would play cards or pool with him. Harry looked forward to visiting friends and reminiscing with good humor.
Later in life the telephone became his friend for communicating. He was blessed with a lot of family, extended family and friends that helped him so much after his horse accident that led to his leg amputation in 2011, to get “Back in the Saddle Again” which he did for a while. When his back pain got bad enough he couldn’t walk much, his 4-wheeler became his legs.
Harry was preceded in death by his mother, Helen Noble (Vorce); father Bill Noble; brothers-in-law Dave Mamalis and Bill Steagall; son-in-law Pat Lafferty; sister-in-law Linda McRae; and brother Duane Noble.
He is survived by his wife Helen of 65 years; daughters Jody Lafferty and Jerita Belyea and husband Dave; grandchildren Kayla Clifton Skultety, Shane Clifton, Jesse Belyea and wife Missy; great-grandchildren Kensie Skultety, Sean Skultety, Willow Belyea and Stetson Belyea; sister Pauline Mamalis; 100-year-old aunt Velma Evans; brother-in-law Bob McRae; sister-in-law Carole Steagall; nephews and nieces Rocky and Michelle Steagall, Walt Steagall, Jeannie Greiss, Kristina McRae Tarvin, Karla Noble McKay, Ken and Billy Noble and Buddy Gibson; and many great-nieces and -nephews, cousins, extended family and very dear friends.
A graveside service with military honors will be held on Saturday, February 1, 2020, at 1 p.m. at Desert Lawn Memorial Cemetery, Irrigon, Oregon. A celebration of life service will follow at Stokes Landing Senior Center, 195 Opal Place, Irrigon, Oregon.
Those who wish may make contributions in Harry’s memory to help with expenses and his great-grandchildren’s education c/o Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, P.O. Box 289, Hermiston, OR 97838.
Please share memories of Harry with his family at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com.
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon, is in care of arrangements.