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The Nitz Family in the Elk City – Red River Area - page 4 / 11





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Nitz Family


Wayne David Nitz was born 21 Oct 1927 at the family home on Red River. He lives in Elk City with his wife Betty. Their life is described below.

Wayne and Betty Nitz

Wayne David Nitz was born 21 October 1927 at the family home on Red River. Before and after WWII, he worked on the Tyee Dredge, first on American River and then on Red River. In 1955, he worked on the H&H Dredge on Crooked River. In 1954 and 1955, he served in the U.S. Army in Germany. When he returned, he worked briefly on the state road crew, then worked at Floyd Johnson’s sawmill, where they sawed lumber for construction of Gwen Shearer’s mill. He also bulldozed the tailings on the flat so that Shearer could build his mill. Along the way, Wayne worked 24 years for Harley J. Hammond Logging, running heavy machinery. Wayne and Betty bought the Elk City Bar & Café in 1958 (from Tex Mott, who was still paying Paul Filer for it). Then for 11 years, roughly from 1964 until 1975, Wayne and his brother Don ran Nitz Brothers Outfitters and had many adventures like the ones described on the following pages.

Betty Jane Cooper was born 8 Nov 1935 in Glencarlyn, Arlington County, Virginia. As a girl during World War II, she and her family (8 children altogether) traveled to Vanport, Oregon, where her father worked in a shipyard. (Vanport is no longer on maps because it was swept away in a flood in 1948.) After the war, her Dad worked in sawmills in Lucille, White Bird, and Elk City. By 1948, at age 13, Betty was cooking for a hunting camp in the Chamberlain Basin. The next year she met Wayne Nitz at a dance in White Bird; they were married in Grangeville on 27 May 1951. During the 1952 fire season, Betty cooked for as many as 80 firefighters at the Red River Ranger Station. She trained as a practical nurse at Grangeville General Hospital (now Syringa General) and then served as Elk City’s nurse from 1955 to 1972, until her brother Paul organized emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to serve the area. When Wayne and Don were off guiding hunters, Betty ran the Elk City Bar & Café. By 1964, she had tired of this and hired Mary Hadden to run it. By then, Betty was serving as Elk City’s Postmaster, a job she performed for 30 years, from 1962 to 1992. (She was the first postmaster in Elk City to serve long enough to retire.) During her tenure, the post office grew from 60 boxes in the grocery store to its own building with 600 boxes. Over the years, Betty also served on the water and power associations and the booster club, and was active in getting the roads paved.

Wayne and Betty have three children:


Eric Wayne Nitz, born 7 Apr 1953 in Grangeville;


Violet Lorraine (“Vicki”) Nitz Ash, born 8 Apr 1957 in Grangeville;


Randolph Russell (“Randy”) Nitz, born 5 Aug 1958 in Grangeville.

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