Vernie Paul Deniston passed away after a bad fall and pneumonia on March 11, 2015 at Hospice House, Bend. She was born Vernie Marie Paul on February 18, 1920 in Roseburg, Oregon to Ethel Marie Grensted and Walter George Paul. At age 8, she was sent to live with her father’s unmarried sisters in Hollywood, CA, where she met her future husband in grade school. After graduating Valedictorian from Hollywood High School, she attended Los Angeles City College and then UCLA. On September 3, 1943, she married John Joseph Deniston in Roseburg, OR and they moved to Salt Lake City where John was already serving in the Army Signal Corps. A few weeks after their wedding he was sent to England, and about a year later, Vernie began her training in a special program at UCLA for physical therapists for the Army. She completed her training at McCloskey General hospital, Temple, Texas and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in March 1945. She then was sent to an Army hospital in New Orleans. She and her husband were both honorably discharged from the army in March, 1946. They then relocated to Glendale, CA where he finished his degree at Caltech and went to work for AT&T, while she worked as a physical therapist. Shortly before their first daughter was born in 1948, he was transferred to New York City and they moved to CT briefly and then to Ridgewood, NJ where their other two daughters were born in 1952 and 1957.
While in Ridgewood, Vernie was an active member of the AAUW, a founding member of the New Jersey Delta Zeta alumna chapter, a Girl Scout leader for many years, and a faithful Sunday School teacher for 11 years at the local Methodist church. In 1959, John Deniston was transferred to San Diego, CA and subsequently in 1963 to Los Angeles and in 1965, San Francisco, where they lived in Walnut Creek from 1965 until 1976.
During this time in Walnut Creek, Vernie volunteered as a docent with Shadelands Ranch in Ygnacio Valley, an historical home. She was instrumental in setting up a home for unwed mothers with the United Methodist church, where she also taught Sunday School for another 6 years. She continued with Girl Scouts both as a leader and a neighborhood chairwoman. She also began attending St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Concord, CA. Vernie and John also hosted foreign exchange students, most from AFS, for several years. Shu-Ju Wang came to live with them at the age of 15 from Taiwan in 1975. In 1976, John took an assignment for 3 years with American Bell International Inc. in Tehran, Iran, and the family moved once again to New Jersey, this time to Belle Mead not far from ABII headquarters.
In New Jersey, Vernie was active on the board of United Way and also the board of Girl Scouts. She attended the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church of Westfield and participated actively with the Philoptochos Society (women’s organization). She also continued her involvement with AFS.
Upon John’s retirement in 1982, they relocated to Bend, Oregon. Vernie continued her community activities in Bend, being one of the founders of the Regional Arts Council for Central Oregon, a chairwoman of the Central Oregon Arts in Education program, and primary founder and past Guild president for the Cascade Festival of Music, as well as a board member. In 1992, both Vernie and John were presented with a Community Services Award by the Oregon Arts Commission for “their significant contribution to the artistic and educational opportunities of their community.” Vernie was also selected as one of eight trustees nationwide to be featured in an article in the May-June, 1992, issue of Symphony magazine.
Vernie’s interests ranged widely. She was a weaver and a potter, who learned to make her own glazes. She loved music and used to accompany her daughters on the piano while they played their various instruments. For many years, she rehabilitated donated dolls, cleaning and sterilizing them, boxing them up with 3 new outfits for each, and donating more than 300 of them to be sold at the Sisters Habitat for Humanity thrift store. She took classes in weaving, pottery and music. She had a life-long fascination with Chinese and Greek art, Middle Eastern archaeology, and studied the cultures of Southwestern Native American tribes. She was active in Girl Scouts for 35 years. An avid hiker, she and her sister-in-law did monthly wildflower hikes with a group of friends. She loved animals, and in her later years very much enjoyed watching birds at the feeder, her flock of quail, and the deer that came practically to the back patio door. In the last couple of years, she again took pottery classes at the Central Oregon Community College in Bend.
She is predeceased by her husband, John Joseph Deniston; and survived by her brother, Walter Grensted Paul of Hines, OR; three daughters, Judith Deniston Falconer of South Bristol, Maine; Marion Ethel Deniston of Las Vegas, Nevada; and Margaret Sue Raines of Las Vegas, Nevada; extended family member Shu-Ju Wang of Portland, OR; as well as 4 granddaughters and 2 great-granddaughters.
Burial will be private at the family plot in Harlan, IA.
Donations in memory of Vernie Paul Deniston would be gratefully accepted at the Sisters Habitat for Humanity thrift store, 141 W. Main Ave., Sisters, OR 97759.