Friday, July 19, 2013

Distance Rider dies in horse accident

By Shaun Hall of the Daily Courier

A local woman who loved horseback riding died Saturday after a riding accident outside Bend.

Beth Bliss, a longtime nurse with Asante, and a board member with local horse organizations, was 61.

Nine years ago, Bliss was featured in the Daily Courier, after fulfilling a lifelong dream of completing a 100-mile horseback endurance ride called the Tevis Cup, through the Sierra Nevada mountains near Lake Tahoe. Saturday's accident occurred six miles into a 50-mile ride northeast of Prineville.

"One of the most important things for us is that Mom went out doing something she loved dearly," her daughter, Sarah, said Wednesday.

Bliss died at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, where she was flown by helicopter after the accident. Her horse apparently stepped in a hole in an old logging road and threw her about 20 feet, according to an account provided by the family. She wore a helmet and was found unconscious by fellow riders. The helmet was dusted, but not otherwise damaged.

"She was full of joy and life," Sarah said. "I think she loved it (horses and horseback riding) almost more than anything."

Her first horse was a wild mustang she broke herself, after obtaining it from the Bureau of Land Management, back when the family lived in Nebraska.

In 2001, the Bliss family moved to Grants Pass, where Beth worked as an emergency room nurse at what is now Three Rivers Medical Center. She left the job after 10 years, until returning in January to an on-call position there.
Last month, the family had a reunion on the Oregon Coast, near Lincoln City.

"We were lucky to have that time with her so close to her passing," Sarah said. "Mom being Mom did all sorts of things with us: clamming, just enjoying life and having fun with family."

Bliss is survived by her husband, Barry, of Grants Pass, and two daughters: Sarah, of Brighton, Colo., and Autumn, of Grants Pass, and Autumn's daughter, Madelynn.

A memorial event is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at 10100 North Applegate Road. Visitors should bring a dish to share, beverages, a chair and stories to tell about Bliss. Coincidentally, the annual Tevis Cup is held Saturday.

Donations may be made in her name to Grayback Brushriders, P.O. Box 102, Williams, OR, 97544. Bliss was secretary of the organization. Donations also may be made to Rogue Riders, c/o Gerry Luternauer 13237 East Evans Creek Road, Rogue River, OR, 97537. Bliss was vice-president of that group.

Hull & Hull Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.

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