William R. (Bill) Renwick died on April 15.
He was born on Nov. 4, 1918, at the family ranch at Follyfarm, the third of four boys born to William Renwick and Ada (Neal) Renwick. His grandparents John H. and Dorcas Neal were early Grant, Harney and Malheur County pioneers.
Renwick grew up on family ranches at Follyfarm, Juniper Ranch and the Keuny Ranch. During high school, and after graduation in 1936, he worked for Paul Stewart on the Mann Lake Ranch. He worked there until he was severely injured in a horse wreck in 1938. After recuperating, he worked for Herb Fawcett on the Harney County Road Department, building and improving Harney County roads in and through the south end of the county. It was during this time that he developed and built upon his long-time passion for fixing, maintaining and operating heavy machinery.
With the onset of the draft, Renwick joined the United States Army in 1940, hoping to become a pilot. He did not pass the pilot’s physical requirements, so opted to work in engineering, honoring his grandfather. He worked with the coast and Geodetic Survey while stationed in Southern California. He was then transferred to Oahu, Hawaii. Renwick was at Hickham Field, adjacent to Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked. He survived the attack and was assigned to be in the newly formed 804th Combat Engineers, which took him to nearly all of the Pacific islands for the duration of World War II. The 804th constructed rudimentary, then more elaborate airstrips for Allied aircraft immediately after the islands were taken by preliminary invasion forces.
Renwick came home to attend the funeral of his grandfather, and met Ida M. Wilcox in Vale. He returned to duty for the duration of the war, and upon discharge, he and Ida were married on Nov. 6, 1945.
Renwick went back to work for Harney County Road Department until he was accepted to body and fender trade school in Portland, which he attended on the G.I. Bill. Upon completion of training, he went to work for McCulloch Garage, and he and Ida began to build a family, home and lives in Burns. He also worked on the graveyard shift at Edward Hines Lumber Company, pulling green chain and worked with Don Robins at the block plant in Burns. From these two sources, he was able to acquire the lumber and concrete block he used to build the house that the couple lived in for the duration of their lives.
Renwick worked at many jobs, many at the same time, including truck repair, mechanic for the BLM, heavy equipment operator for the BLM, and heavy equipment mechanic for Edward Hines.
He was very involved in activities, participating in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H and athletics. The Renwicks went to every out of town game of the Burns Hilanders where his kids were competing.
Renwick was a trainer for the American Red Cross, putting on first aid classes in Harney County.
He loved hunting and fishing — especially elk hunting. A guided elk hunt with his best friend Ray Bagshaw to the Wyoming wilderness in 1978 was a life highlight.
Renwick was extremely proud of his children, Bill and Lois, in their achievements in college, graduate school and their careers. He also enjoyed showing off his grandchildren Will and Casey.
After retiring, Renwick traveled extensively throughout the Southwest, Mexico, Oregon, and especially, Harney County. He and his wife enjoyed bike riding, and watching the birds in the meadows and floodplain of the Silvies River. They also enjoyed putting together family and area histories, and sharing them. Renwick attended many meetings and reunions of the 804th Engineer’s Battalion, and Pearl Harbor Survivor’s Association. He and his wife went to Hawaii numerous times for anniversaries of the Pearl Harbor attack.
Renwick is survived by his children, Bill of Burns, and Lois and husband Jerry of Myrtle Point; grandchildren, Will and Casey Renwick of Tualatin; sister-in-law, Margaret Renwick; and nieces and nephews and their families, Shirley Wensenk, Judy Crisafi, Georgia Draper, Alan Renwick, Nancy Yantis, Janice Paradis, Margie Karl, Bobbie Maggard, Mary McLoughlin, John Atkins, Toni Lamb, Jon Stacey and Fred Stacey. He is also survived by many other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ida; brothers, Robert, George and Jim; parents, William and Ada Renwick; grandparents; an aunt and uncle as well as other relatives; and friends Ray and Lois Bagshaw.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Renwick’s memory may be made to the Harney County Senior Center, Harney County Home Health and Hospice, Harney County Historical Society, or a charity of one’s choice. A memorial service will be held for Renwick and his wife, Ida, on Saturday, May 24, at the Harney County Senior Center.