Viralma (Rusty) Rhoda Black was born on December 8,1941 in Pendleton, Oregon to parents Ronald E. Tawes and Helen E. (Walker) Tawes. She passed away on May 1, 2021 in Milton Freewater, Oregon, at the age of 79.
Rusty was an only child and grew up and graduated from Pendleton High School. She spent a lot of her childhood traveling around with her father who had polio. She often spoke of the time when they traveled to the Kentucky Derby and the wooden race horse her father surprised her with on their return home. They also attended several sporting events together. She always said that he was the reason for her love of sports. Her favorite being horse racing and Pro Football and her beloved Philadelphia Eagles.
She also had a love for horses. Whenever they would travel she would always search out the nearest stables so she could ride. Around the age of nine she talked her parents into buying her a horse, even though they were not horse people. This started her life of owning and training horses. She loved to spend time at the Bar M Ranch and this is where she acquired her horse Duke which she trained to do all kinds of tricks and in August of 1959 she made headlines when she rode him in the Omak Suicide Race. She was the first woman to ride in the race, and several years after that women were not allowed to ride in the race. She also came across her famous horse Domino when she was running horses from the Round Up Grounds to the old Happy Canyon, a man was trying to train Domino to do the Trail Horse part but was to fractious, but she decided she wanted him and could train him to do the part and she did, thus started her long journey training horses for the lead part in Happy Canyon. She trained 7 horses over the next almost 70 years, 5 of them she raised herself .One of those being Chinook, whom she said because of him she was able to do things she would of never done, one of those being their trip to Las Vegas to represent the Round Up and Happy Canyon when Chinook and Bryson Bronson carried the flag at the opening of the National Finals Rodeo. Another horse she loved dearly was Poco, a mare she barrel raced on and won several buckles.
In August of 1960 she married Charles Black, and they raised two daughters, Lea and Dana at Gibbon, Oregon. They spent time on their place at Gibbon raising horses and cattle. She drove a school bus for the Pendleton school District until they moved in the summer of 73 to Orofino, Idaho. While living in Orofino she drove a school bus for the Orofino School District and in the summers she would drive bus transferring fire crews to different fires until moving back to Oregon. She continued to drive a school bus for the Pilot Rock School District for several years before retiring. She often talked about her trips with the different sporting teams from Pilot Rock and how much she enjoyed taking the kids and how much she missed it. Later she started driving for Kayak, she worked for them until October of 2020 when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Rusty’s greatest joy was going and watching her Great Grandchildren, Carter, Tucker, Mason, and Rietta. She loved going to all their practices and games. Watching them work with their 4H animals. Anything they did, she wanted to be there. She was their biggest fan.
She was preceded in death by her husband in 2009, her parents, and a brother. She is survived by her children Lea VanHouten (John) of Pilot Rock, Dana Black (Craig) of New Salem North Dakota; her grandchildren JaDee VanHouten, Corey VanHouten (Ali) of Pilot Rock; and four wonderful great-grand-children, Carter, Tucker, Mason, and Rietta all of Pilot Rock; and several nieces and nephews.
Please join us for a celebration of life service on Saturday, May 15th, at 1:00 p.m. at the Roy Rayley room at the Round Up Grounds in Pendleton, Oregon.
In lieu of flowers the family is asking that those who wish may make memorial donations to either the Pilot Rock Little League or The Black Soxs Baseball Team.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Viralma "Rusty" R. Black, please visit our floral store.