John Dewey Patton, 79, a fifth-generation Oregonian passed away Aug. 17, five months after being diagnosed with cancer.
John was born Sept. 16, 1934, in Myrtle Point to John J. and Maxine (Collins) Patton.
Most of his life was lived in-state, with the exception of a brief time in Northern California, where his father followed logging jobs, and two years in Pasco, Wash., where he attended Columbia Basin College.
John was quite young when he started working in the woods with his father, who said John always had truck wheels rolling in his head. Thus, his first experience with hauling logs began.
John worked in the John Day Valley for some time, during which he had a partnership with Skip Powell. He also worked for various other employers until a log rolled off a truck and crushed his right leg. Unfortunately, his stay in the hospital left him with a staph infection, the type of which no cure could be found. He realized at that point he would need to find a new occupation.
Unable to do the work he loved, he attended Columbia Basin College to earn a degree in auto mechanics. From this, he found work in Baker County for their maintenance department. Not being an indoor person, and still having truck wheels turning in his head, he realized this was not for him. His heart was still in the logging industry, so back he went.
In 1967, he purchased an International truck, which he named “Belinda,” and the two of them headed out looking for log-hauling jobs. He hauled for some time in the John Day valley, until he met Jim Howden, of H&H Logging in Burns. Jim told him if he moved to Harney County, he would have a job for him. This move proved to be prosperous in many ways and started the final chapters of his life.
John met Doris in 1969, and it didn’t take long for them to know they were meant to be a team. They were married April 4, 1970, and formed an extended family. John brought to the union two sons, Jeff and Joe. Doris brought daughter, Donna, and sons, Larry, John and David.
John’s relationship with Jim went from, not only working, to a great friendship, that lasted until Jim’s death years later. During this time, John and Doris formed their own company, John Patton Logging. They continued working for, and with Jim, later doing custom logging for personal landowners until they retired in 2002.
After one landowner job, John was awarded a citation from the state of Oregon Forestry Department for the excellent work he had done.
After 31 years of suffering with the staph infection in his ankle, John became ill. When the doctors examined him, they could not find any sign of the infection. Hearing this, John said, “Cut it off,” and so they did. What may have been a tragedy for others was a blessed relief for him. He fared wonderfully well with his prosthesis, and created many laughable stories because of it. Only one of which was, when it was bothering him and he had grandson, Ryan, take it down to the shop and cut part of it off.
John’s hobbies were hunting, fishing and traveling. He and Doris visited many monuments, museums and parks statewide, nationally and internationally.
John took many trips with his family. He hunted in Oregon and Idaho with his sons, Jeff and Joe; took trips to Alaska combining travel, fishing and hunting with son, David, and family. Included was a trip to Hawaii with son, Larry and wife; fishing on the Columbia and hunting with son, John and family. Donna also shared trips to Nevada and Alaska with him and Doris.
Three weeks in Italy and Austria with David and family were highlighted by being part of a huge crowd in St. Peter’s Square to witness Pope John Paul II ordain (the now-present Pope) Francis and others to the Office of the Cardinal. Several trips through the Yukon, British Columbia and Banff, Alberta, found them having high tea in the British tradition. And trips to Nevada to visit Doris’ friends and schoolmates were always a great pleasure to John.
John also learned to appreciate live Broadway productions, along with several operas and philharmonic concerts. The trade-off was tickets to Blazer games, especially when the Blazers were playing the Utah Jazz.
He also enjoyed many live appearances of pop and western musicians. While watching the Donna Fargo show, she came off the stage and shook his hand. His claim to fame!
His uncanny knack for finding things kept his family amazed. While driving, some of the more unusual things included a ticking ladies Timex watch near a snow bank in Yellowstone Park, a police two-way radio on a Hines street, scissors on a street in Eugene, a box of toys on a desert road off Highway 20, and most rare, a perfectly good Oreck vacuum cleaner in the Ochoco Forest while riding around with friend, Cal.
John’s sense of humor stayed with him even through his last days; and friends and family will repeat some of his vocabulary for a very long time.
He was a member of several organizations, mostly to do with the timber industry. He was president of the Grant/Harney chapter of Oregon Forest Product Transportation Association, in which he held state offices as well. He was also named Timberman of the Year at the Harney County Chamber Banquet.
John is survived by his wife, Doris; brother, Jim, and his wife, Rhea; sister, Janice Jones; children, Jeff, and his wife, Denise, Joe, Donna, Larry, John, and his wife, Pat, David, and his wife, Runae; 14 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren; nieces, Kristie and Lenore; nephew, Hank; and many friends.
John was preceded in death by his parents; a newborn daughter; and grandsons, Joe Jr. and Johnathan Mallars.
A funeral service was held Aug. 23 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.
Contributions in John’s memory may be made to Harney County Home Health and Hospice and/or Ronald McDonald House of Central Oregon, in care of LaFollette’s Chapel, P.O. Box 488, Burns, OR 97720.