A memorial service will be held at St. John's Lutheran Church, Bliedorn, Grand Mound, with Vicar Kirsten Lee officiating, on Sunday, June 23, at 3 p.m.
Gene was born the second of 10 children, on Nov. 26, 1931, to Hugo Henry Christian and Ruth Marian Fenno Meyer in Berlin, Lamoure County, North Dakota.
As a young boy, he left the bitter winters of North Dakota with his family to join the westward migration during the Depression and Dust Bowl era, to the Blue Mountains region of northeast Oregon, among the Walla Walla onion fields, the mountainside miles of wheat, green peas, hops, and fruit orchards.
Just a mite of a kid in those days, for he was smaller and younger looking than others his age, but with a will of might, Gene was forced to learn to drive a D-2 Caterpillar at the age of 11, and that became the start of a lifetime of hard work.
What Gene Meyer knew was work—hard work, constant work, operating and maintaining heavy farming equipment, living the rugged life of the rancher, the farmer, the cowboy, sharing a bunkhouse as a youngster with some of the tougher ranch characters – learning perhaps more than he should have at that age, through his 52-plus years employment at the thousands-of-acres Rea Family farming conglomerate in northeastern Oregon.
His memories went way back to those pioneer days, the cook shack that he helped move from field to field during harvest, fitted with two cast iron cookstoves and seats for 20 hired hands at one time, with two metal barrels mounted atop the roof to provide water heated by the sun, so the cooks would have hot water as they fed the hungry workers; having no time to attend the Pendleton Round-Up nearby, yet working mountainside cattle drives; mountainside wheat and pea harvesting, making sure their levelers worked properly so the combines with loaded hoppers wouldn't tip over on the slopes – saving other crew members if they did; maintaining the honorable work ethic that made him become at 17, the youngest field foreman for the company, that at times had crews of over 200 men, especially during green pea harvest.
In January 1951, he married Dorothy Nicks of Dixie, Washington, formerly of Burlington. They had two daughters together, Jeannie Lynn Meyer, now of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, and Barbara Leigh Meyer now of Dayton, Washington. Dorothy died in January 1996, at their home in Walla Walla. In December 2002, he married LeEllen "Lonni" Hoffmann, who he met when she was administrator of The Clarissa C. Cook Retirement Home in Davenport, where his late wife's mother resided.
After retiring from Rea Farms, Gene maintained his own ranching and wheat operation for nearly 20 years more in the Walla Walla mountainous terrain. Gene had been an elder of the First Christian Church of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, and was an officer in both the Elks Lodge and the Independent Order of Foresters, Milton Freewater.
Eugene was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife; an adopted son of his first wife, Ralph; two brothers, Arthur and Donald of Walla Walla; two sisters, Marian and Virginia, of Walla Walla; and three sisters-in-law, Dolores Swim, Eleanor Olson, and Kathryn Matthiesen.
His survivors, in addition to his wife and loving daughters, include two sisters, Ruby Welch, College Place, Washington, and Jacque (Ed) Thibault, Walla Walla, Washington; three brothers, Dennis (Carol Ann) of Walla Walla, Leonard (Karen) of Roseburg, Oregon, and James (Nancy) of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, two stepchildren, John P. (Jill) Schnack II, and Judi (Doug) Todd, of DeWitt; four grandchildren, J.P. III and Marshall Schnack of Oregon, Sara Todd of Ankeny, and Allan A. Todd II of Ames; two sisters-in-law, Janice Richardson of DeWitt, and Carelyn "Charlie" Dann of Wilton; and a brother-in-law, Otto (Deloris) Olsen of Broadhead, Wisconsin.
In accordance with his wishes, half of his cremains will be placed in the family plot in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, the other remaining with his Iowa family.
Condolences may be expressed at schultzfuneralhomes.com.