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A Fond Farewell to Danae Yurgel

Danae (pictured at top left) along with current and former GHCC staffers in 2015.

Danae Yurgel first came to the Greater Hells Canyon Region in 1975 during a checking-out-colleges road trip with her dad. After visiting Whitman College they headed south to the next school on the list, Eastern Oregon College. As they came over Tollgate, there were three distinct rainbows to greet them. And, that did it. Danae chose this "Valley of Rainbows" as her home.

Danae had various adventures away from La Grande: She worked for the Forest Service in Lake County, and at alternative farms all around the Pacific Northwest. During a stint in Ashland Oregon, Danae became a student of tai chi and aikido where she led the children’s program with senior student David Tift. Seven years later, with a husband (yes, David) and three cats onboard, Danae returned to the Grande Ronde Valley. They’d been looking all over the nation for their next home and as they reached the top of the Blues, she burst into tears. David’s response: “We’re moving here, aren’t we?” She’s been home since.

Martial arts, permaculture & agriculture, service through the nonprofit sector…

In 1992, Danae and David opened Take Musu Kai Dojo in La Grande and began teaching aikido to countless children (many of whom are now all grown up) and adults in the community. After three decades, they are still teaching!

They made their home on Cricket Flats on the breaks of the Grande Ronde River—until the well went dry. Then they found their forever home, a 2.5 acre orchard within the city limits of La Grande, planted in the las