Maureen Minthorn

Born: Sun., Sep. 30, 1962
Died: Mon., Sep. 14, 2020

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Maureen Minthorn-Bates


30 September 1962- 14 September 2020

There is a new champagne supernova in the sky with our sister’s name: Maureen.

Maureen Minthorn both entered and departed this world in Portland, Oregon. The Creator sent her to us at Holladay Park Hospital and reclaimed her at OH&SU. She was the 3rd daughter and youngest child of 4 born to Leslie Everett Minthorn and Patricia Genevieve (Magee) Minthorn. She spent her earliest years in Portland attending Lynch School until the family returned to the family homestead on the Umatilla Indian Reservation at McKay Creek in 1971. She graduated from Pilot Rock High School in 1980. Involved in a variety of activities and sports she is most remembered as a Varsity cheerleader. After high school she became a legal secretary and paralegal, briefly attending Santa Rosa College.

Of Cayuse-Yakama descent she was from birth an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation outside of Pendleton. Her Indian name was Comsalee or Hummingbird. She was raised in the traditional culture and society of the Umatilla tribe and participated both when expected and just as often voluntarily in an untold number of events throughout her life. She reveled in life. She sewed, harvested and dried traditional foods, held memorable gatherings and family celebrations, actively participated in longhouse events, honed her culinary skills via television, traveled extensively, hosted celebrities, treasured her Grandmother Lucy Minthorn, held canopy dinners, made friends anywhere she went, annually filled and distributed Christmas baskets of handmade and home cooked goodies, held picnics on the living room floor, hosted elaborate parties, grew flowers and plants in her yard, stayed in way cool hotels, had dj’s and put dance floors on her lawn, made a series of personal annual treks over the years, picked huckleberries, canned fish, bought flowers and often made her own arrangements, made and did sweat with other women. She loved to sing and adored the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar! Maureen was a keen, meticulous, and extremely organized force to be reckoned with. She could get you anywhere on the planet and back again. Unlike our president she could read and was voracious about it. Liked to take the side of the underdog. Always had at least one cat and in Oregon both cats and dogs. Lived in San Francisco, Oakland, San Rafael, Santa Rosa and Novato, CA. She was the best shopper and had a long loving relationship with Costco. Oh, and she loved Star Trek. ALL of them! Quiz her at your peril. When you catch up with her that is.

While living in California Maureen met and was married to musician and former Wildhorse slot mechanic William Butler. They divorced not long after returning to Oregon and remained friends. The true love of her life and the man with whom she chose to spend the remainder of it with is Victor Allen Bates, Director of Security at Wildhorse. Fellow tribal members, they knew each other already but got together while he worked at the casino. In fact, they are distant cousins, both are direct descendants of Chief Yellowhawk, our family signer of the Treaty of 1855. In turn, each of them are great-grandchildren of Phillip and Lizzie Minthorn. Maureen through Wilford and Lucy Minthorn, Victor through Anna Minthorn Wannasay and Jason Wannasay. They married on 6 May 2018. The gift of life she most treasured was the birth of their son and her only child Tahner Allen Bates on 19 June 1999. She was thankful for enough time to see him into his young adulthood. The family resides in their still very new house at Mission near the Umatilla River. She referred to Victor and son Tahner as “her men.” Her men were of great comfort and help to her over the years Maureen fought cancer. She sang their praises and gave frequent public thanks both to them and for them. In turn, everyone was thankful that Maureen got to live in her new house in the time she had left.

Maureen’s careers are already historical and well documented. It began with a desire to live in California and she began that phase by moving to San Francisco in the early 1980’s.

From 1981-1983 she was the Training Coordinator and Administrative Assistant with the American Indian Lawyer Training Program, Inc. in Oakland, CA. She was responsible for coordinating regional training events for tribal court advocates and tribal court judges in Indian tribal court systems. She worked with staff attorney/curriculum development specialists in the design and development of training materials. From May 1983 until she returned to the Umatilla Reservation she was the Training Coordinator and Administrative Manager at the National Indian Justice Center, Inc. in Petaluma. She retained her previous job duties but was involved in all aspects of administering NIJC, an organization formed to design and deliver educational, research, technical assistance, and training programs to promote the development of justice in Indian Country. Even after her return to Oregon she provided guidance and technical assistance to the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. There she served as occasional consultant and super volunteer to the Executive Director Jerry Gardner and Board President Abby Abinanti on a wide range of topics. Over the years Maureen coordinated multiple conferences for the Office of Victims of Crime Indian Nations around the US. It’s my own opinion that there were judges, prosecutors, staff attorneys, and other court personnel within her reach anywhere in the country. My sister was never a criminal or troublemaker but if anything ever did happen to her it would not surprise me one bit if a judge stepped in to help her out.  She certainly knew a plethora of them.

The work for which Maureen will be most remembered here will be for her leadership in developing policy and providing oversight to protect casino assets as Chief Gaming Inspector for the Umatilla Tribal Gaming Commission. Like her brother Micheal and sister MelSue also hired in casino management positions, the three of us knew not one thing about gambling or gaming operations except for some short training and operation manual study before Wildhorse Resort & Casino opened November 4, 1994. The three of us learned and thrived in gaming management and regulation. It is fascinating that although Maureen became an expert at casino law and regulation, developed and honed financial controls to protect casino assets she never learned to gamble. Rest assured me and MelSue did. Fast. On a sibling outing one night away from work she joined us and sat at a machine to play. A few moments later she was still just sitting there after inserting her money. She said, “what do I do?” Didn’t catch on even when shown, either. She knows the math but not the game. So that first outing was her last.

I always thought of her as the casino Chief of Police minus a 9mm pistol. She didn’t pack a pistol but did have the power to have you arrested if need be. The job is simply to protect the assets. Simple to say anyway. In order to do this she had to study existing federal gaming laws and learn from scratch by studying gaming compacts and procedural guides and policies already in effect. Initially, Gaming Regulation was a department within the casino organizational chart. Ultimately, tribal government assumed control of regulation, as the casino owner. The separation of regulation from operations left no opportunity for collusion or unfair influence. In joint cooperation with the Oregon State Police Gaming Unit her staff conduct background checks and investigations of all gaming personnel and primary management officials. Her office issue and regulate gaming licenses only after passing all of the investigation. They are legally responsible and the only entity that can accept or release a slot machine for play. Maureen also  had oversight of the Surveillance Department who observe casino operations to insure that gaming is fair and procedures are followed as published. She was instrumental in the establishment of a Surveillance Network of Oregon tribal casinos. They share information among each other about casino cheats, theft or counterfeiting, and scams identified for the common good. They also monitor and regulate all table games, Keno, and Bingo.

She served on innumerable commissions and committees.

Then one day about 8 years ago Maureen had gallstones removed in a fairly common and routine procedure. Like so many others she brought her stones home and we all marveled. However, the pathology report revealed that she had gallbladder cancer. The knowledge sent shock waves through our Minthorn line. Until then, the Pat and Les Minthorn clan had never been faced with the potential loss of one of its members. The story of Maureen’s courageous and fierce determination to rid herself of this disease and the battle that ensued is epic. I’ll not detail that struggle here except to say that over those years and prior to her departure last Monday Maureen experienced a comeback from the very edge of death’s door 4 times! Each time the cancer appeared to be gone or under control and she was able to resume her normal activities somewhat. Over a week ago she again became ill once again but this time her body became infected and she became comatose and remained so after being airlifted to Portland. Last Monday it was decided to stop life support. Victor, our parents and others gathered at her bedside in Portland while many others participated by live video feed as Dad sang her favorite Washat song, also a favorite of Grama Lucy. Shortly after equipment was turned off and while breathing on her own Maureen opened her eyes and regained consciousness. She made eye contact with our mom and said, “I love you.” Sadly, we did not get a 5th miracle. Maureen returned to a coma a few minutes later. So Victor took her hand and gently moved it back and forth in order to “grab the light” as he again sang that same Indian song to her. As he completed the final verse, the Creator took her back. It was 5:24 p.m.

Maureen is survived by her husband Victor and son Tahner at the home; parents Les and Pat Minthorn of McKay Creek; brothers Micheal L Minthorn and Wayne Brown of McKay Creek; sisters Malissa Minthorn-Winks (Michael) and MelSue Barkley (John), also of McKay Creek; and sister Patricia Brown Rose of Olathe, Kansas. Best friend from her days living in California Laura Weddle Peterson of Scottsdale, Arizona. And treasured family friend and fellow cancer fighter William Hurt. He canceled his own chemotherapy treatment to spend time with Tahner when his mother was airlifted to Portland. How do you thank someone for that? Maureen leaves behind an absolutely enormous number of nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles, aunts, friends and acquaintances from around the globe. Anyone she became close to had a permanent relationship with her. She is predeceased by all of her grandparents including Wilford and Lucy Minthorn, and brother in law Lee Grannell (Minthorn).

The Bates-Minthorn families wish to give cheers and enormous thanks to everyone involved in caring for our Maureen in her struggle with cancer. The nurses and staff at St. Anthony Cancer Unit as well as those nurses and hospitalists in the Medical-Surgical Unit, ICU and ER that took care of her multiple times. Special thanks to the expert and efficient ICU crew that cared for her the day she was flown to Portland. Nurse Colleen of Option Care is singled out as having become family during the time she worked with Maureen. Thank you and welcome, Colleen. The entire team and staff of the OH&SU Cancer Treatment Center and ICU Unit. We are forever Dr. Quackenbush fans. So many more to name and give thanks to. Maureen was thankful to everyone and for everything done for her. So Maureen didn’t know how to gamble, eh? Maybe not. But, like everything else she became very learned in her disease, sought out information on treatments, studied the drugs and treatments, knew the clinical lab values, and fully participated in treatment with every ounce of energy that she was known for. Quite simply to the bitter end. Maureen calculated odds and endured some of the highest risks and hazards in order to be with us for as long as possible. That was her way. Finally, the highest accolades go to Maureen’s bestest friend Laura Petersen. Occasional nurse consultant, frequent visitor, frequent flyer, phone caller, passionate listener, crying and laughing partner, partner in crime, and closest friend for all time. But for your love and willingness to help our sister Maureen in her battle she would have left us much sooner. You were always good medicine. We all love you and you, too, are a member of the Minthorn Family.

There are many more things to be said. I’ll likely add more detail later to the online obituary that will appear and be archived at Pioneer Chapel. Please sign her online condolence book. Tell us about Maureen from your perspective.

Oh, by the time you read this, services will have been held. Maureen’s final memorial will be decided and announced by family in 2021 or when the pandemic resolves. She was buried at Tutuilla Presbyterian Church Historical Cemetery.

So you ask and I knew you would: where is that new Champagne Supernova called Maureen? Look north. In the words of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise….”Second star to the right, and on ‘til morning...”

A’tatawisha, Maureen. It has always been so. I’m honored to have been chosen to write some of your story. I shall forever remain your big brother...Mike (reporting from McKay Creek 9.17.2020)

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Condolence Booklet

Gerald Gardner
   Posted Wed September 16, 2020

A GARDEN PATH was sent by Jerry Gardner.

On behalf of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute Staff and Board of Directors we send our thoughts and prayers. She will truly be missed.

Jackie Cook
   Posted Wed September 16, 2020
There dosen't seem to be the right words to express the sorrow of this huge loss for the family and community. Know that you are all in my prayers and my heart., Jackie Cook

Kathy Doane
   Posted Wed September 16, 2020
It was such a pleasure to work with Maureen over the years. I will miss her beautiful smile and wonderful spirit. Sending my deepest sympathy for your families lost. May her memory always bring a smile.


   Posted Wed September 16, 2020
Will miss her and her bright spirit. My thoughts and prayers for family.

James & Robin Turk
   Posted Wed September 16, 2020
Uncle Kite & Aunt Pat & family,
Maureen is going to be missed. She was a joy to be around. I was fortunate to have worked with her and enjoyed her when we went on a rafting thru work. That was an eye opener that we needed to depend on one another. She was a very strong Lady. We love you all and know there are no words that will help. Please know that all of you are in our thought and prayer. Robin

Bonnie (Ables) Bischke
   Posted Wed September 16, 2020
No words can express the hole in the hearts of all who loved her will be left. Peace go with her. It was good to behold her beauty while she was here. Shalom to her family.

Rosa McBean Hays
   Posted Wed September 16, 2020
Sending prayers to family and friends! Sorry she was taken so soon. May she rest in peace and you all have comfort and strength in family.

J.D. Williams
   Posted Thu September 17, 2020
I was heartbroken to read about her passing. She had a sparkle to her that I will always remember. My condolences to you all.

Gregory Willeford
   Posted Thu September 17, 2020
Sending peace and warm love to Maureen and the entire Minthorn family during this time of departure.

As a member of the Oregon State Police, I worked with Maureen on tribal gaming projects. She was awesome and had such talent. She will be missed.

May Maureen's memory be a blessing to us all.

Abby N Abinanti
   Posted Thu September 17, 2020
Oh girl.....I so miss you already....she was/is a truly lovely person....
My prayers are for her journey and her family who she so loved and was loved in return....abby

Judy J Wickert
   Posted Thu September 17, 2020
The Wickert family sends thoughts and prayers to the family

Ed And Judy Wickert.

Rex Baker
   Posted Thu September 17, 2020
Maureen had a way of always making you feel like a special friend, though sometimes it would be years between times seeing her. She was fun, warm, and very bright & she will be very-very missed by all. My sincere condolences to her family.

Carolyn Rovier
   Posted Fri September 18, 2020
My deepest condolences to her friends and family.
I had the opportunity to meet this wonderful lady a few years ago, she was an angel and helped stranded girls due to a automobile accident on the mountain. She made a difficult and scary situation much easier for them and their families. It was a honor to know such a kind and generous lady, God bless.

Bruce Campbell
   Posted Fri September 18, 2020
My sincere condolences to family and friends!

   Posted Fri September 18, 2020
May Maureen fly high with the angels. I’ve admired her tenacity and graceful demeanor...May those left behind be comforted and feel her love daily.

Kathryn Fegan
   Posted Fri September 18, 2020
This time of year as the fall will descend
With a hitch in my throat, just to see you again
Saddened and hoping you’re safe on your flight
I pause with a sigh as I’m left without sight

Who would’ve thought such a small little bird
Would cause such a break when no longer it’s heard
Wishing and praying won’t lengthen your stay
But oh how I wish to have just one more day

An excerpt from a Robert Frost poem
"The Hummingbirds"

Fly high Auntie. Til We see you again.

Isaac Parr
   Posted Sat September 19, 2020
I am saddened at the passing of Maureen. Deepest condolences to Kite, Pat, and family. I contacted her to offer assistance with medical language and treatments. She ended up teaching me some things i never knew of this beast. May her memory bring peace to all.

Neva Hascall
   Posted Mon September 21, 2020
What a wonderful, courageous soul. Maureen will be missed by many. Condolences to her family.

Jim & Judy Pace
   Posted Mon September 21, 2020
Victor and Family, there isn't anything that can change what already is. Your good thoughts and memories, will keep Her Spirit strong, which She and You will need for Her journey. Stay strong are all Our wishes for You. Yours Truly Jim & Judy Pace

Neal Otto
   Posted Mon September 21, 2020
Maureen was such a wonderful and kind person.

As a client, she always supported my business with CTUIR.

But most of all, Maureen was a friend and I'll miss her very much.

Charlene M Hadden
   Posted Thu September 24, 2020
.Maureen has left such a great legacy. Her involvement with her family, friends and community will be greatly missed. We send our condolences to the families

Linda Webber
   Posted Fri September 25, 2020
You are the only person I know from the "Minthorn Clan". I would like to express my sincere condolences for the loss of your daughter Maureen. Now I know why you loved Hummingbirds so much. I will be thinking of you and your family during this tragic loss. Our Creator loves all his creation and has a marvelous future planned for all peoples. Please read Revelation 21, versus 3 & 4. At times like these, the Holy Scriptures can give us much comfort. With Love & Respect, Linda Webber

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