A couple's path through life, like the course of a river, seldom runs straight: It wends its way around and through
obstacles. With a 50th wedding anniversary approaching this November, Ivan and Marjorie Porfily of Mt. Vernon are
representative of a confluence of determination and devotion.
Throughout their respective childhoods spent in Prineville, Ivan and Marjorie developed a team-spirit and a
bare-bones approach to life that has stood them in good stead during tough times. "I thank the lord I was raised
the way I was. There were 11 of us kids says Ivan, " and we all pulled together to stay together; it was a great
Ivan's father arrived in Prineville a little before 1900. Having left Italy at age 17 and walked from NY to CA.
He finally took root in Crook County with the original family name of Porfilio.
The Porfily family is still a vital force in Prineville, most notably by the election of Frankie Porfily to the office of
In 1959, the Bureau of Reclamation pursued plans to build the Crooked River Dam; displacing many landowners; Ivan and Marjorie
were caught up in that progressive movement. "We fought tooth and nail against it," says Marjorie. Ivan adds that "now, we look
there and see it was the best thing that could possibly have happened."
The reservoir attracted the attention of developers and ranchers alike. The irrigation and aesthetic values have augmented the whole town's
Ivan continues to speculate on the boon to our region's enviornment should local governments grasp the wisdom in retaining spring run-off
with similar solutions. "This valley would be the Garden of Eden," he claims. And he speaks with the authority of one reformed by
The talk turns to religion, and the story of the John Day First Baptist Church's "resurrection" is heartening. Last year, newly installed
preacher Eberich's interpretation of the church's by-laws resulted in approximately 25 members being voted out of the congregation. This
year those members meet across the street each Sunday to worship. "Well, he (Eberich) wanted to bring us together," says Ivan with a
touch of irony, "and now the core group is stronger than ever."
The group's attorney, Foster Glass, is representing the 25 plus members, and while the postponements seem endless, there is a strong hope
that they will get out from under the restraints of the new leadership.
Marjorie and Ivan are real pros when it comes to faith and hope. Consider this: Ivan, at almost 80, and his bride, 13 years his junior,
have been tending to their ranching business despite Marjorie's ten surgeries. Brain surgeries. Her tale of triumph leaves one
wondering how she copes; how she walks and how she carries on. Neighbor and close friend Mary McKern explains, "She's very strong in her faith;
she's a miracle of prayers." One is left with that conclusion, and recognizes also that the gentle razzing and comedic-like timing which
pervades Ivan and Marjorie's banter must account for some of their ability to have traveled this far. Sons Bill and Leonard have married and
provided them with grandchildren branching off into new territory. They are in essence going with the flow and it shows.
©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved
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