Ronald Halfmoon

Ronald Halfmoon

2/28/1931 — 1/19/2024

Ronald T. Halfmoon, of Lapwai, passed Friday, Jan. 19, 2023. He was born on Feb. 28, 1931, to his father Otis Alphonses (Nez Perce) and mother Mary Joshua (Cayuse) Halfmoon, in Umatilla, Ore., and raised in Pendleton, Ore., an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indians (CTUIR). He was a Nez Perce/Cayuse Umatilla.

Ron’s early education began at the St. Joseph’s Slickpoo Mission in Slickpoo and he attended the St. Andrew’s Mission School from 1931-45. He graduated high school from St. Joseph Parochial School in 1949 and took summer work in local pea fields and Pendleton Experiment Station and the Umatilla Ordinance Depot as a trackman before joining the military right before his 20th birthday.

Upon joining the U.S. Army, he served in the Korean War from 1951-53 and earned a Purple Heart for his acts of valor and was wounded in action. Ron lamented on his military experience, where he spent a significant time in his life traversing the world. He was assigned to the George Company of the 47th Infantry Division aka (The Viking Division) with a weapons company equipped with heavy and light machine guns, 4.2 mortar and recoilless rifles. As a gunner for a light machine gun, he was recommended by his first sergeant to leadership training and assigned orders that were “rigorous and challenging.” As he recalled, his company missions and orders were to travel in the dark through jungle, maintain a certain direction to a predetermined check point, cross enemy fire and training in chemical, biological and radiological defense instruction to recognize poisonous gasses like phosgene and tear mustard. He believed this was where he learned some of the most challenging trainings, and life off the reservation began. During his service he was Squad Leader and was elevated to corporal, then sergeant, then a sergeant first class by the time he was discharged. Some of his fondest memories were Panama City, the Aleutian Islands, Mount Fujiyama, Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan, Seoul, Korea, and Biloxi, Miss., to name a few.

After his military service, Ron attended Washington State University (WSU) where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in general studies and biological science in 1971. Ron believed it was after attending a six-week summer program in Boulder, Colo., where he was placed at the University of Colorado campus and had a life-changing experience that motivated him to dedicate his professional life to be of service to Indigenous people. During this time, he also served as a staff member of the American Indian Development Inc. from 1969-71 and attributes that time to his significant professional work experience, which included 30-plus years of serving Indian Country and six years on the Board of Trustees for the CTUIR Governing Body. As a Board of Trustee Chairman, he assisted in the formulation of land-use codes and resource management plans. He witnessed the release of the first chinook salmon in upper Umatilla River to begin the reestablishment of salmon runs for the tribal member harvests. As a tribal member, he served on the Education Committee and on the Tribal Housing Authority. His experiences include managerial and administrative functions at CTUIR, director of the Nez Perce Tribe Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO), Burns Paiute Tribe, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, advocates for Indian Education, Blue Mountain Community College, Gonzaga School of Education and the Oregon State Department of Education.

It was during his tenure at WSU where he met his beloved wife, Loretta “Chet” Halfmoon, and they married April 2, 1977, at St. Andrews Catholic Church in Pendleton. They were approaching 44 years together when she passed. His fondest memories were meeting her after traveling the world. He adored her and believed she recruited the most Native American students to the WSU campus at a time when education was still considered a relatively new pathway for Native Americans, and attributed their love for the WSU Native American Student Association Kuyama as a part of their education advocacy. Both he and Chet were avid WSU Cougs fans. They shared their faith of the Catholic Church and enjoyed traveling to national Kateri conferences where they enjoyed sight-seeing around the world together. They made their final home on the Nez Perce Reservation in Lapwai, but not after living in places like Pendleton, Spokane, Rufus, Ore., and Pullman.

He is survived by his brothers Harold (Elsie) Halfmoon, of Greasewood, Ariz., and Lee Clure, of Mission, Ore.; children Ethel Greene and Scherri Greene, of Lapwai, Kerma (Charles Petras) Greene, of Garfield; numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Otis and Mary Joseph Halfmoon; beloved wife Loretta “Chet” Halfmoon; siblings Richard, David, Alphonse, Robert, Donald, Francis, Elizabeth, Marilyn and Carolyn and Barbara; sons Jeffery Brian Greene and Michael Dana Greene; and daughters Barbara Deane Greene and Mary Lee Greene.

A rosary and memorial services are set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the Pi Nee Waus Community Center, 504 Main St., Lapwai. A Catholic service will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 205 Birch Ave. E., Lapwai. A dinner will follow. Vassar-Rawls Funeral Home of Lewiston is in charge of arrangements.


Service Information

Date & Time
Tuesday, January 23, 6:00 PM
Pi Nee Waus Community Center
Corner of Main Street & Birch Avenue
Lapwai, Idaho 83540

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Katrina Burnside

The Lord is close to all who call on Him. Psalm 145:18

As you walk through this time of loss, may you know that the Lord walks with you and He will comfort you.

With Sympathy

Katrina Burnside & Family

Wednesday, January 24, 2024 3:19 AM

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