Paula “Joann” Joan Benzel

January 25, 1929 - February 18, 2017

Paula, better know as Joann, passed away at the age of 88 on Feb. 18, 2017. She was born Jan. 25, 1929, in Madera, Calif. to Stephen and Opal Rogallo.

She and her older sister's childhood years were spent playing and exploring nature near the lumber camp where her father worked. Some days her mother would pack a picnic lunch and they would pan for gold and fish in the river.

Later, the family moved to Sanger, Calif. so the girls could attend school. Their father came to the United States when he was 21 and Joann helped him study for his citizenship.

During her high school years, Joann spent summers working in the fruit packing houses, cashiering, and as an usherette at the theater. She had fun using her flashlight to rap the young men's feet hanging over the balcony.

With school behind her, she left home and worked various jobs, eventually ending up in San Diego, Calif. There she met and married Grant Johnson. They had one daughter, Judith. They divorced a few years later and after a time she married Marshall Sowell. They moved to Ore., and settled first in Union Gap, just south of Oakland. Being a California girl, Joann hated the Oregon wet weather. She missed the oranges, limes and other fruit that had been available in one's own back yard in California. They later moved to a farm in Scotts Valley, Ore., raising cows, chickens, horses, dogs, cats and made pets of skunks and raccoons. After 12 years the marriage ended and Joann and Judy moved to Yoncalla where the two of them lived for about 3 years.

In about 1960, Joann met the love of her life, Ray Benzel and his five children. They married March 14, 1962, and became a family, a big family. They would joke that they had a pre-nuptial agreement that if either of them ever wanted a divorce, they would have to take all the kids and all the dogs!

Together they started a business in Yoncalla, crushing rock, repairing heavy equipment and pouring cement. In the early 1970's they moved to Central Oregon, onto a ranch in Tygh Valley. Hours were spent clearing rocks, building fences and making the place an efficient working ranch. They raised cows, hay and even garlic for a time. There were always numerous dogs, cats and horses thru the years. They also continued the equipment rental business and all sorts of jobs that went along with that. Joann did all the bookwork for the business and ranch, never using a computer or an answering machine. She was always outgoing and friendly to all she met. She had a great sense of humor and loved jokes. She and Ray always had a new joke to tell.

Joann loved the ranch with it's view of Mt. Hood and the glorious sunsets. Most evenings included a walk down the lane that runs the length of the property, looking at the cows, birds, flowers, view of the mountain and enjoying the quietness of the lovely place.

The past three years Joann and Ray have resided at Sheldon Park Assisted Living in Eugene, Ore., where they have been assisted by a wonderful, caring staff.

Joann was preceded in death by her parents, Stephen and Opal Rogallo; sister Doris Rogallo; son Ray (Curly); and granddaughter Christina Holt.

She is survived by her loving husband Ray and children; Judy (Larry) Hoagland of Creswell, Ore.; Tenna Shoultz of Russell Springs, Ky; Sharron Boger of Louisville, Ky; Patsy (Bill) Richards of Lake Oswego, Ore.; Ed (Cindy)Benzel of The Dalles, ; and daughter -in-law Nancy Benzel.

Also, 12 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

A family gathering will take place at a later time.


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