Opal M Filteau

Died: Wed., May 8, 2019


Celebration of Life

11:00 AM Sat., May 18, 2019
Location: St. Andrews Episcopal Church


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Opal Mae Filteau, 99 died on May 8, 2019.  A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Andrews Episcopal Church.

Opal Mae Filteau was born on a wheat farm near Simpson, KS, on March 11, 1920. She was the first child of Fred and Marie (Kethcart) Hirsch.  Sixteen months later, she was joined by twin sisters, Colean and Pauline.  In 1927, Fred Junior completed the family.

Opal was valedictorian of the Simpson High School class of 1938.  Soon after graduating, she went to Glen Elder, KS, to take the nine-month teacher certification course.  She was hired to teach in a rural school near Barnard, KS, where she taught for one year.

Two of her dad's brothers, Will and Reinhold Hirsch, had already established themselves in Harney County, living near Riley.  By the time Opal came out West, Will and his wife, Mabel, had started a greenhouse and flower shop just east of downtown Burns.  They also owned The Nook restaurant on Broadway
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When Opal came to Burns in 1940, she went to work for Mabel's daughter, Dot Denstedt, doing housework and helping deliver babies at Dot's lying-in home.  She also worked at The Nook for a time.
Opal's cousin, Frank Hirsch, was living in Burns and ran the Liberty Theater, at the site of the current Broadway Deli.  The projectionist at the Liberty was a fellow who had come out from Minnesota, Don Filteau.  Frank told Don, "My cousin is coming out from Kansas--you should meet her."  After about one-and-a-half years' courtship, Don and Opal were married on Nov. 8, 1941.  In 1945, their son Jon was born, followed in 1947 by daughter Christine.

Starting in the mid-1950s, Opal worked first at Safeway on Broadway, then at JC Penney for many years until the local store closed in about 1971.  She then moved to Bend to complete her working years at the JC Penney store there.  But due to insufficient retirement income from Penney's, she later had to go to work at the mill in Hines.

From about 1976 until 1988, Opal looked forward to having her granddaughter Robin spend summers in Burns.  Robin and her Granny had many memorable times together, and they formed a close bond that endured throughout Granny's life.

Opal was very active in many organizations:  American Legion Auxiliary, Harney County Historical Society, TOPS club, the senior center, and her church.  She was a member of St. Andrews/Peace Lutheran congregation until her death.

Opal loved to travel, and took many trips to faraway places with her sister, Colean Norton.  Portugal was a favorite destination.  Opal and Robin enjoyed a trip to Hawaii in February 2007.  Opal gained local fame when, on a trip to New Zealand in 1994, she decided it would be fun (and perfectly normal) to go Bungee jumping.  What a wonderful memory that was!

Opal was loved and looked up to by so many people.  She was known for her generosity and welcoming nature, and for always remembering birthdays with a card.  Many friends made her last birthday very special by arranging for a luncheon at Bella Java on March 11.  Later in the month, the senior center served a special meal in her honor.

Opal's grandchildren are Robin (Stott) Gerstenfeld of St. Paul, OR, born in Germany in 1972, and Amanda Filteau of Seattle, WA, born in 1987 in Seattle.  Grandsons-in-law are David Gerstenfeld and (when Amanda marries him on July 7 this year) Eddie Burgess.

Opal's husband, Don C. Filteau, died in 1986, and son Jon Stewart Filteau in 2005.  Opal was the last surviving member of her birth family.  Other beloved relatives include niece Karen Sunderlin Starbuck of Princeton, nephew Paul Sunderlin of Payette, ID, niece Janet Singsaas Swenson of Aloha, and niece Carole Hirsch Boyce of Abilene, KS.

Contributions in Opal's memory may be made to the Harney County Senior Center, Harney County Historical Society, or Peace Lutheran Church.

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Condolence Booklet

Georgia & Gary Marshall
   Posted Sat May 18, 2019
Dear Chris, Karen and Families,

We just learned this sad news. Sending prayers and thoughts today as you send this beautiful lady home!
Opal was such a joy to know and an inspiration to us! She always wore a smile, spread great kindness, laughed and loved so much. Rest In Peace Dearest Lady, we loved you❤️

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