November 27, 1919 - January 21, 2013
Elton Fenno was born Nov. 27, 1919, on Thanksgiving at home to Cora Blachford Fenno and Elton Earl Fenno Sr. in Dickey, N.D. He grew up on the farm with his parents and eight siblings. Growing up during the Great Depression of the 1930s influenced his life in many ways. During Elton’s teenage years, work was scarce, as was money, so he and his brothers rode freight trains looking for work with pay. One of his freight train adventures landed him in Milton-Freewater, where there was agricultural work for a willing young man.
Elton was the only member of his family to graduate from high school and attend college. He started college in 1937. Without money for the second year of college, when he was offered a job teaching school in Fredonia, N.D., in a one-room school house, he accepted.
Elton was a member of the National Guard at the beginning of World War II but joined the Navy to avoid being inducted in the infantry. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Standing on the pier as the Japanese planes swooped in dropping bombs, Elton witnessed a life-changing and world-changing event. The 20 years he spent in the Navy were a source of pride and personal satisfaction for him.
While on leave in Milton-Freewater in October of 1946, Elton met the love of his life, Mary Jane Durupt, at his sister’s home. Elton and Mary married on Feb. 25, 1947, and enjoyed nearly 66 years of marriage. They raised five children settling in Walla Walla in 1964.
Elton retired in 1980 from the Walla Walla School District, where he was a teacher and administrator. Retirement did not mean a life of leisure. Committed to being of service to the community, Elton volunteered at St. Vincent de Paul, Blue Mountain Action Council, RSVP, the Senior Center and coordinated the Community Thanksgiving dinner at DeSales High School for more than 20 years. His wife, Mary, was an active participant in many of those activities. Elton was an active member of Assumption Catholic Church. He loved gardening, traveling, reading and taking walks with his wife.
Elton is survived by his wife, Mary at the home; son, Nick Fenno; daughters, Vicki Huskey, Judi Fenno, Pam Brown and Susan Dewald (Tim); 13 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; and his eight siblings.
The Rosary will be recited on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, at 6 p.m. at Herring Groseclose Funeral Home with Sister Helen Mason officiating. The memorial funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, at 10 a.m. at Assumption Catholic Church with Father Tyler Smedley, celebrant. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Vincent de Paul through the Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder, Walla Walla, WA. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at www.herringgroseclose.com.