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Longtime youth advocate Chere Jones dies

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Chere Jones

Longtime The Dalles youth advocate Cheryl “Chere” Ray Hammer Jones, 64, died Saturday, May 3, 2014, surrounded by family at Providence St. Vincent’s Hospital in Beaverton, Ore.

“She did a lot for the school district,” said friend and fellow volunteer Brenda Jenkins, referring first to The Dalles then North Wasco County school districts. “I remember we sat there one day with catsup and Awesome Orange power cleaner cleaning the brass [murals] above the door for literally hours — it was quite the day.”

She developed several programs that helped both the district and the students.

“She planted trees around the high school with Mr. [Stephen] Jupe and the most fun thing she did was on Valentine’s Day. The day before Valentine’s Day we would all show up at the high school and tape balloons, candy and hearts on every locker in that high school.”

Her efforts continued on through many years. She created a program called Let Your Change be the Change, where volunteers collected spare change to help pay for paint or new auditorium curtains at the high school, Jenkins said. She also formed a Sister to Sister group connecting adult, high school senior and freshmen women. She also worked with the Patriot’s Pen youth essay program as part of the local Republican party.

She also regularly attended school board meetings and was a budget committee member.

“She thought every kid needed to feel special, feel loved and have the best this town could give them,” Jenkins said. “We lost something for our kids when she passed away. She never met a bad kid — ever. If a kid was in trouble, [she believed] it wasn’t the kid’s fault. It was something that motivated the kid to be that way. That’s what she saw was motivation and she would try to change that motivation.”

“She was always giving, giving, giving to the community,” added Kathy McBride, a former school board member, noting that Jones was active in school bond issues and a variety of school committees.

Jones was born in Jackson, Minn., on April 1, 1950, the daughter of Ray L. and Doris (Halter) Hammer. Included in her family is Stacie (Hammer) Schooler and Mark Hammer. She was baptized in the Lutheran faith as an infant in the Lutheran Church of our Savior in Jackson, Minnesota.

At age 2, she moved with her family to The Dalles, Ore. She was confirmed in the Lutheran faith at Faith Lutheran Church at age 13. She attended public school in The Dalles and graduated from The Dalles High School in 1968. Following graduation, she spent three months in Norway, visiting and getting acquainted with many relatives and cousins living there. Her family said it was a special time in her life.

She attended business school in Portland, Ore., and was also a graduate of the Gloria Lavonne School of Modeling. She did modeling in the Portland area prior to her return to The Dalles.

After returning to The Dalles, she was employed in the office of Dr. Robert D. Brogan as a dental assistant. Later on, she was employed at Williams Clothing and worked there until her husband, Tom, was seriously injured in an automobile accident and she took over the Tom Jones Photography Studio.

She developed a passion for photography and over many years she considered it a privilege and joy to work with many students for graduation photos (high school and college), weddings, high school class reunions, anniversary celebrations, baby pictures and children of all ages for special events.

Each and every opportunity to photograph was an “event” to be celebrated in her book, her family said. She was a people person and enjoyed and appreciated her family and friends.

When her children were growing up, she and her husband never missed an opportunity to be at school activities and all their sports activities, whether they were in town or out of town.

In recent years, as she became a grandmother, she enjoyed spending time with Haley, Dylan, Zachary, Daemon, Emily, Makenna, Nevaeh, Aby and Tyler.

Her passion for sports did not stop. She continued to support her grandchildren at their games, and was a loyal Trail Blazers fan with her family.

In addition to her volunteer efforts to provide an “A Plus” education for all local children, she was also active at Faith Lutheran Church as a Sunday school teacher and youth leader, and later at Bethany Lutheran Church. She also enjoyed gardening with her children and grandchildren, and spending time at the beach with her family.

Chere and Thomas “Tom” were married Nov. 7, 1976, at Faith Lutheran Church.

She is survived by her husband; son Brandon (Julia) and children Haley and Dylan; son Tyler; daughter Courtney (Tosis) and children Daemon, Emily and Makenna; son Parker (Natosha) and children Zachary, Aby and Tyler; son Carter and his daughter Nevaeh, all of The Dalles. She is also survived by her mother, Doris Hammer, The Dalles; sister Stacie (Hammer) Schooler, Tigard, Ore.; and brother Mark Hammer, Albany, Ore.; Uncle Loren Halter and Aunt Marge, The Dalles; Aunt Donna, Rapid City, S.D.; Aunt Shirley and Uncle Glen Olson, Boulder City, Nev.; Aunt Mavis Schroht, Owatonna, Minn.; plus numerous cousins in Oregon, Minnesota, South Dakota and Washington.

She was preceded in death by her father, Ray L. Hammer.

Memorial services will be at Bethany Lutheran Church, 2323 E. 12th St., The Dalles, on Friday, May 16, at 1 p.m., with Pastor Jesse Jacobsen officiating. The Mary Martha Circle of Bethany Lutheran Church will provide a luncheon at Bethany following the memorial service. All are invited. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Bethany Building Fund or a favorite charity.

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