VALE – One day Bobbi Hancock’s father came home to their ranch in Valier, Montana, and told his family they were moving to Oregon.
Vale, Oregon, to be precise.
“He was tired of ranching,” she said.
And just like that Hancock’s life made a sharp U-turn as her father bought the Vale Livestock Auction and packed up the family for eastern Oregon.
Now, more than 50 years later, Bobbi Hancock is Bobbi Buttice and she said the change from Montana to Vale was “the best move I ever made.”
Bobbi and her husband Dennis were honorees at the sixth annual Vale High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame banquet Oct. 21.
The Buttices were also the founders of the Hall of Fame and Hall of Fame banquet after they attended a similar event in Fruitland a dozen or so years ago.
From the start the banquet was popular, said Bobbi Buttice.
“The first year we had the event we had it in the fire hall and filled it. Then we went to the commercial building at the fairgrounds and filled it. Then we went to the (Four Rivers) cultural center and we are packing the place,” she said.
This year, she said, nearly 400 people attended the banquet.
She said the popularity of the banquet reflects the Vale community.
“You are not going to find this type of pride if you were to move to a larger town,” she said.
Both Buttices are interwoven into the Vale community fabric. Both have been involved in the community in various ways for decades. Dennis is currently the chair of the Pioneer Place Board of Directors and served on the board for 12 years. Bobbi also served on the Valleyview Cemetery District for 12 years and is the current chairman. Both were recognized by the Vale Chamber of Commerce in the past as Volunteers of the Year. Both are current members of the chamber.
Dennis and Bobbi also are involved with the Vale Heritage Reflections Mural Society.
While Bobbi moved to town when she was 16, Dennis was born and raised in Vale.
Both of the Buttices are well known locally. Dennis has operated an independent timber brokerage firm since the 1994 while Bobbi was the administrative secretary at Vale High School for 28 years.
Bobbi said the move from Montana to Vale wasn’t that difficult.
“Of course, at first, like any high school junior, I didn’t want to leave my friends. But I never looked back,” said Bobbi.
After graduating from Vale High School in 1966, Bobbi attended Treasure Valley Community College and the Links College of Business in Boise where she earned an administrative assistant degree.
“I had a two-year program and I finished it in one,” she said.
She then worked at the Oregon State University Extension Service in Ontario before she went to work for her dad at the auction yard.
“Then Dennis and I got married,” she said.
Dennis Buttice was a familiar personage around the Hancock family because he was friends with Bobbi’s younger brother, Rick.
“We started to date in 1973 or 1974,” said Dennis.
By then Dennis had tried college and ranch work but found a niche when he went to work for Larry Tuttle at Tuttle Lumber in Ontario in 1978.
The Tuttle Lumber job was the beginning of a still-ongoing career in the lumber business for Dennis.
Dennis watched the lumber business change over the past five decades.
“We actually have less sawmills but are producing more wood than ever before,” he said.
Technology and how mills do business is very different than when he first began in the business, he said.
“Now the sawmills use all of the product, from the sawdust to everything else,” he said.
As a timber broker, relationships are crucial, he said.
“Treating people right is the biggest thing, that and you don’t lie,” he said.
Bobbi began her long career at the high school in 1978.
“I ran the office, did all of the transcripts, registration, the whole bit. Anything related to the office was my responsibility,” said Bobbi.
The best part of the job, she said, was the students.
“I enjoyed the kids and the people I worked with. We were a big happy family. I would never get up and go, ‘Oh my God, I have to go to work today,’” she said.
Bobbi said she was reluctant to retire.
“No two days were ever the same,” she said.
Retirement was difficult at first.
“To come home and not have the interaction, that was driving me nuts. I hadn’t been retired very long before I decided maybe I ought to get a part-time job,” she said.
The Enterprise at the time was looking for a part-time bookkeeper so she applied and was hired.
“I did that for 10 years,” she said.
Now truly retired, Bobbi said she spends a lot of time golfing and helping Dennis with the lumber business.
Both Buttices said Vale has changed over the years.
“The loss of business is disappointing. I can go up and down the street and remember when I moved here who used to be in all of those buildings,” said Bobbi.
Yet Bobbi and Dennis said they are proud to live in Vale.
“I’ve always felt like the Vale community is a great place to be. People are friendly and it’s a hard-working community,” said Bobbi.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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