September 23, 1920 — August 14, 2019

Remembering Dad ...

He was conceived on a ship and born in a land far, far away a long, long time ago. Theodore Smithwick Flaiz was born to Jennie and Theodore Flaiz in Bangalore, India, September 23, 1920. It was a land of British colonialism, of tigers and leopards and cobra, of nights spent hunting from a machon in the trees of the jungle. His first language was Telegue, an Indian dialect. He grew up playing with the children of the local raja and rani. One of the games they played was to dress-up in the royal clothing and and put on jewels, including emeralds the size of a walnut.

His was not an ordinary beginning and the life he lived, so long and so well, was as unconventional as were its early beginnings. He and his family, which grew to include younger sister Mary June, lived in India until Dad was 12.

Dad completed his high school and pre-dental college work at LaSierra Academy and College in Southern California where his Father was in medical school at Loma Linda University. Dad attended dental school at Oregon Health & Science University, graduating in 1944.

He was immediately drafted into active service in the U.S. Army, serving in the Philippines and was among the first troops to land in Japan after the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Scary times indeed!

During Dad’s school years in Portland he met a nursing student who became our mom, Phyllis Evelyn Cox. He and Mom were married almost 65 years until her death in February, 2009.

Following his time in the Army he returned to the Portland area to practice dentistry. By 1950 they were the parents of three children, Douglas, Glenda (Underhill) and Richard.

In 1952 Dad was once again called to active service during the Korean War. He was stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas. After his discharge in 1953 our family moved to Prineville, Oregon, and called that home for the next 18 years.

In 1971 the Seventh-day Adventist Church asked Mom and Dad to accept a mission assignment to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. That was where their last child was added to our family when they learned to love Selas Tecki. They lived in Addis until the emperor, Haile Selassi, was overthrown. Their home was close enough to the palace they could hear the emperor’s lions during the night and heard clearly the final shelling and takeover of the royal compound.

From Ethiopia it was Tanzania, then the Caribbean serving on the islands of Granada and Barbados. They came home permanently in 1989 but after his retirement Dad worked anywhere from 2-week to 12-month stints in 30+ countries all told, including: Cameroon, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Saipan, St. Kitts, Madagascar, Palau, Russia, several Central American countries, Fiji, Guam and many more. Mom was able to go with him on many of these assignments and it gave them both joy to serve.

Between his overseas assignments he worked in a dental van on a volunteer basis. He also worked at the prison in Pendleton and anywhere else that could put him to work and keep him busy. He involuntarily gave up his dental license at the ripe old age of 92. And then, a couple of years after losing his dental license, the state added insult to injury and told him he couldn’t drive anymore. That loss of personal freedom cost him dearly. He hated being dependent to get around and he could no longer take his random, scenic routes all over the state.

At age 95 he moved to Guardian Angel Homes and resided there until his death on August 14. He and his stories will be missed by many.

Services will be announced at a later time.

Burns Mortuary of Hermiston is in care of arrangements. To leave an online condolence for the family please go to www.burnsmortuaryhermiston.com

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