In loving memory of Barbara J. Ortega: 1938-2021


Barbara J. Ortega of  Ridgefield, Washington passed through the bonds of this life after 83 years of a life well lived on Nov. 20, 2021 in Vancouver, Washington. She was a strong woman of faith and gave her all to the end surrounded by the love of her family.

She was the only child born to James F. Avery Sr. and Sara Belle Avery in Riverside, California. She also has a half-brother Jimmy Avery Jr. who was born to James F. Sr. and Annie Avery in Vancouver, Washington. Her father had the Avery Richfield Service Station on Columbia Street in Vancouver. Her mother remarried to Senior Master Sergeant Wallace D. Stromsmoe who was in the U.S. Air Force. Barbara got to live the life of an Air Force brat moving from base to base throughout California and Alaska.

After her mother passed, her stepdad came to live with Ross and Barbara until his death. She was his caregiver and later took care of Ross in his five year struggle with a neurological disorder until his death in 2013. She had a servant’s heart and used her background training from nursing school at Emanuel Hospital back in 1958.

Barbara met the love of her life at Lewisville Park in Battle Ground and in 1959 she married her handsome sweetheart Ross H. Ortega Sr. in Vancouver, Washington.  The early years of their marriage were spent with Ross working as a court reporter in Fresno, California; Portland, Oregon; Pendleton, Oregon; and Eugene, Oregon before settling in Ridgefield, Washington. Barbara took care of raising their five children, attending their sporting events and being the biggest and loudest fan.

She was involved in CCD and Catholic Daughters of America at St. Mary’s of Guadalupe Church in Ridgefield, Washington. When the children were in their teens, she decided to go back to work. She found her gift in sales and sold Empress Pearls Jewelry doing “Treasure Hunt” home parties and earned many trips including to the Bahamas, Hawaii and Hong Kong. She earned the Jeweler of the Year award in 1984.

Ross’ work took them on an adventure to Hawaii for two years where Barbara worked as a leasing agent. Then Ross’ work transferred them to San Francisco for 10 years where Barbara also worked as a leasing agent in their apartment complex Fox Plaza before returning back home. Ross and Barbara lived on an 11-acre farm in Ridgefield where they raised their five children Ross Jr., Chris, Virginia, Miguel and Nick. She loved all of her family so much and enjoyed cooking her famous beans, New Mexico chili,  enchiladas and taco salad feasts until she was unable to cook any longer.

Barbara loved to take pictures of her family and friends, spending hours putting photo albums together. She enjoyed reading a lot, cutting out many articles that moved her, copying and sending them out to loved ones. She was always thoughtful by sending cards or gifts to family and friends.

She enjoyed watching western movies, EWTN, doting on her cats, eating her frosted sugar cookies, walking her property and tending to the blueberry bushes, Asian pear, apple, cherry, persimmon and plum trees, as well as grapes that the love of her life planted.

Barbara leaves a legacy to pass on through her five children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial Mass will be held at St. Mary’s of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Ridgefield, Washington at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11 preceded by the scriptural Rosary at 10:30 a.m. Due to COVID restrictions, there will be no gathering at the church. After the Mass, they’ll go straight to the burial blessing around 1 p.m. at Northwood Park Cemetery, 16407 NE 15th Ave., Ridgefield.