Luana (Loffer) Corbin

As It Was Contributor

Luana (Loffer) Corbin was born and raised in Jackson County in the Phoenix area.  Her parents owned a farm and fruit orchard, and she spent her childhood in the country.  After graduating from St. Mary’s High School in Medford, Corbin enrolled at Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years.  She considered teaching at a small country school as a wonderful experience that helped her appreciate regional history.  After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.

Children and learning are her passions.  She lives with her husband, Richard, and a black lab, Kelly, on a small farm outside Phoenix.

Girls Little League softball began nationwide in 1974.  That year 30,000 girls aged 8-12 signed up to play, and the first World Series was held.

In 1865, three Holy Names Sisters traveled to Jacksonville, Ore., to establish St. Mary’s Academy. The school had 12 boarding students and 33 daytime students.  It soon outgrew its location and was moved to California Street.

As a child in Phoenix, Ore., Mary Jean Barnes Sturdevant saw famed pilot Charles Lindbergh fly over Medford in August 1927 and drop a signed proclamation calling for the advancement of aviation.  Mary Jean was hooked.

Irish settlers came to Lake County, Ore., in the second half of the 1800’s, many fleeing the great potato famine that over 50 years drained Ireland of half its population.  It wasn’t long until Lake County became known regionally as “Little Ireland.”

Long Mountain School District 37 was one of the earliest in Southern Oregon, formed on Dec. 17, 1865, out of the western portion of Eagle Point.

A medical missionary’s son, Dan Bulkley, was born in Thailand and schooled in India and California.

As a child, Myron “Buz” Buswell kept busy making solid-wood model airplanes.  As a teenager in 1938, he obtained his pilot’s license, built his first aircraft and made a solo flight.  During the Second World War, Buswell left Oregon to pilot a B-24J Liberator in the Army Air Corps.

For two decades the Capitol Christmas tree in Washington D.C. had come from eastern states, but in 1986 Northern California’s Siskiyou County provided the first tree from west of the Mississippi.

Professional skater Molly McNerney MacGowan was only 4 years old when her older brother took her skating in San Francisco.  His reaction was, “This kid can go out and just skate.”

Long-distance runner Ralph Hill was the first of many Oregon runners to gain widespread recognition.
He grew up in the farming community of Henley south of Klamath Falls and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1931, where he set a national record in the mile.

One morning in August 2000, retired Air Force Officer Howard Hamer started out from Nevada City, Calif., for a quick flight to Mount Hood, Ore.  Hamer had built his own Lancair 235 aircraft from a kit 10 years earlier.

After establishing his practice in Phoenix, Ore., in 1909, Dr.Theodore Malmgren became over the next 20 years the epitome of a country doctor endearing himself to a wide circle of friends and patients.  But the doctor is remembered more today for the buildings constructed.

It was 1965 when Lee Hobbs founded the Blackbird Shopping Center as an army surplus store in Medford.  To attract customers, Hobbs built a huge statue of a blackbird in the parking lot.

The town of Placer, Ore., served as a mining center for the Tom East and Upper Grave Creek mines in Southern Oregon.

Medford began paving 45 miles of city streets in 1910-1911, hiring the Clarke-Henery Company to do the work.  However, as more houses were constructed, property owners along Geneva Street realized that their street would be one of the last paved and possibly not completed before winter rains made it a mud hole. Sewer and water lines were already finished so residents decided to hire the Bise and Foss Company to pave their street, using the “Brickolithic” method that consisted of molded concrete resembling bricks.

In 1926, sixteen-year-old Dorothy Hester of Milwaukie, Ore., had never seen an airplane up close.  One time a hot-air balloon passed over her house and she yelled, “Gimme a ride!"  Learning paid rides were available at the nearby Portland airport, she saved her money and took a flight.  Loving it, she determined to become a pilot.

Brilliant defense attorney Samuel Abraham Jetmore gained national attention practicing law in small South Central Oregon towns.

Until the late 1800’s, Medford, Ore., did not have a hospital, forcing the sick and injured to receive treatment at home or in a doctor’s office.  Only very ill patients received nursing care until 1895 when Olivia Dyre Osbourne moved to town.  Osbourne was an 1892 graduate of the Illinois Nurses Training School and had worked at hospitals in Chicago.

Hampshire Field in Grants Pass keeps memories alive of a hometown Army Air Corps pilot shot down over China during World War II.


Only 16 years old in 1910, Tex Rankin joined the U.S. Army Air Corps.  After discharge, he moved to Washington where he learned to fly.  He moved to Portland and started the Rankin Flying Service, and in 1927 opened the Rankin School of Flight.