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Rene Cheer (Roberts) Stevens, 90, formerly of Christmas Valley, went to be with the Lord on Saturday, March 9, 2019 in La Grande, Oregon. A traditional graveside service will be held Monday, March 18, 2019 at 11 a.m. at Grandview Cemetery in La Grande, Oregon. A memorial service will follow at the Summerville Baptist Church Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 2 p.m. in Summerville, Oregon.
Rene was born April 1, 1928 in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales to Sidney Cheer and Elizabeth Daisy Roberts. She spent her formative years amongst a lively, fun loving, and caring family of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins in North Wales. Rene loved to tell stories of their escapades in the uncles’ cars and trips to the beach and mountains. The uncles and cousins teased Rene about her red hair and had a lot of fun together. Rene, Cora, and their mother assisted Rene’s grandparents in their boot shop. Sidney’s father was a school headmaster and pastor in Colwyn Bay, North Wales.
Blaenau was a slate quarry town and as the need for slate decreased, so also did the employment opportunities. Sid had served as a pilot in WWI and was a mechanic. In 1938, when Rene was 10, the family moved to Canada.
Rene came to know the Lord while a teenager and her faith remained the center of her life. They lived in London and Toronto, Canada, where she attended high school and London Bible College (receiving her Christian Education Degree).
To earn tuition money, she worked at a chocolate factory and later at an insurance company.
As a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, she planned to return to Wales to share her faith with other family members before becoming a children’s missionary. On her return trip to the UK, Rene and her mother were ship-wrecked (and subsequently rescued!).
Rene decided to add nursing to her skills and enrolled in training in Chester, England, just over the border from Wales. While there, at a Bible study, she met a dashing Londoner who was also a believer and was serving his National Service following WWII in the mountains of Wales. After receiving her State Registered Nurse status, Rene married Cyril A. Stevens in 1954, in England.
Rene and Cyril served in a church in London for about one year and then moved to Chesham, in Buckinghamshire, where Cyril became pastor of Newtown Baptist Church. Rene led ladies’ Bible studies and children’s classes and assisted in the ministry by providing many meals and nights of lodging to those who needed it – a role that she continued for the next 60 years of marriage and ministry. Rene also worked at Amersham Hospital during this time. Rene sewed, knit, and embroidered clothing and household accessories. She was a true example of industriousness and hospitality to those of us who knew her.
While the family was in Chesham, Sharon, Paul, and Judith were born. Rene devoted herself to taking care of the children and home.
In 1964, the family moved to Oxfordshire, and in 1967 Cyril traveled to Canada as an itinerant preacher across the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. During this time, Rene worked in Oral Surgery at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford.
April 1969, Rene, Sharon, Paul, and Judith joined Cyril in Tacoma, WA, where they pastored Lakewood Conservative Baptist Church until 1972, when they moved to First Baptist Church in La Grande, OR. During all this time, Cyril was in high demand as a speaker in churches, camps and on foreign mission fields. Rene always kept the “home fires burning” and took excellent care of the home and children.
Toward the end of 1978, Cyril and Rene and Judith moved to First Baptist Church in Watsonville, CA. Rene decided to renew her nursing interest and took courses to become an LPN in California, and worked as a nurse at a Doctor’s private practice.
In 1988, Cyril and Rene returned to Oregon, pastoring in Molalla and Christmas Valley.
During the California, Molalla, and Christmas Valley years, Rene made frequent trips to Wales to visit her aging mother and visited her daughter, Judith, in Greece, especially when the grandchildren were born, while continuing to minister alongside Cyril.
Cyril died May 26, 2016 after a short battle with cancer. Since Christmas Valley was so remote and Rene had recently been diagnosed with Multi-Focal-Motor-Neuropathy, the family moved Rene to Paul’s home in Cove, OR and, subsequently, she moved in with Sharon and Lyle in North Powder, OR. Recently her health declined and she moved to a La Grande care home. She continued "sharing cheer" and encouragement right up to her last week of life.
Rene is survived by her three children: Sharon (Lyle) Umpleby of North Powder, OR, Paul (Joyce) Stevens of Payette, ID and Judith (Gene) Heckenberg of Algonquin, IL. Ten grandchildren: Adam (Stephanie) Umpleby, Aaron (Kati) Umpleby, Andrew (Janelle) Umpleby, Alex (Lillie) Umpleby, Nathan Stevens, Isaac Stevens, Timothy Stevens, Peter (Alley) Heckenberg, Heidi (Andrew) Gossen, and Jesse Heckenberg. And eight great-grandchildren: Abigail, Amos, Adalee, Asher, Seth, Audrey, Jude and Ellie, and her nieces Lorna Tull, Mary Reay, and Lynne Fishwick and nephews, Mark Tull and Martin Stevens; cousins Glenys and Gill.
Rene was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Cora Tull and her husband Cyril Stevens.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
Memorial gifts may be directed to "The Gideons" in the care of Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home PO Box 543, Halfway, Oregon 97834. Online condolences can be shared at www.tamispinevalleyfuneralhome.com