Dick Towell, 60, of McMinnville, a former longtime Halfway resident, died April 5, 2002, at his home after an ongoing battle with cancer for the past four years.
His funeral was Saturday at the Church of Christ at McMinnville. There was a graveside service afterward and a potluck at the Towell home.
Dick was born at home in the country by Scholls on Nov. 23, 1941, to Edith Alice and Euidas Scott Towell. He attended a two-room school in first grade and then moved to a newly built school for Grades 2-4. In fifth grade he went to a one-room Lutheran school. In sixth grade his family moved to Hillsboro where he finished high school. He was a 1960 graduate of Hill High.
Dick was a hard worker his whole life. When he was growing up he picked berries and beans, picked up nuts and prunes, baby-sat and did general farm work. Starting after sixth grade, and through high school, he worked milking one cow and cleaning one stall for $1 a day.
At 15, he boarded at a dairy that summer and did all sorts of farm jobs for $125 a month, plus room and board. He worked at Noble Craft Cabinet Shop when he was 16 through age 19. Then he worked for Biltwell Furniture Factory for 10 years. The next four years he worked for West Side Concrete in the Willamette Valley doing construction work. Also, he took care of an orchard and did general work for the owner on weekends.
On June 30, 1962, Dick and Jean Cookman were married. On June 13, 1964, their daughter, Dana, was born. Their son, Jeff, was born on April 25, 1966.
In 1962, they moved into a two- bedroom home purchased by Dick the spring of 1962. Then in 1963 they sold it and bought 33 acres with a new home and a farm house they rented, at Cherry Grove.
In 1967, Dick and Jean were divorced. In 1970 he sold that place and bought an 80-acre farm with an old farmhouse in Halfway.
On Jan. 23, 1970, Dick and Patty Theer were married. For their first month they lived with Dick’s sister, Linda Van Fleet. Then they bought a 15-foot trailer and lived in it at the home of Dick’s folks, Scotty and Edith Towell, for about six months. Next, they lived with an elderly couple for at least a month caring for them. Then, they rented a house in Hillsboro for a year and a half. In 1972 they bought a small house in Portland.
Their son, Ricky, was born on July 2, 1975, and they moved to their farm in Halfway when he was just a week and half old. Dick worked as a relief milker and did farm work for two dairymen. He also ran his own farm.
In 1976, he started driving school bus, and drove many sports trips for Pine-Eagle School District. About 1977 Dick bought a new tractor, bailer, and swather and stared doing custom farming. They sold barley, hay, milk and eggs.
In 1980, their daughter, Jennifer, was born. That same year they converted their barn to a dairy and bought 25 cows. Dick milked before and after driving bus. In 1986 they went on the government “Dairy Buyout Program” and got out of the milking business.
In November 1990, the school contracted for buses, so Dick started his own bus service. He bought a 1988 Ford Eldorado Bus, and a 1972 motorcoach, and Dick bid and won sports trips from the EOSU and several other companies.
He did very well until his car accident in February of 1998. He was in the hospital for nine days. It was there that he was given a biopsy for the suspected lump in his neck and discovered it as cancer. He underwent neck surgery in Boise.
In July of 1999 Dick and Patty sold their Halfway farm and bought 58 acres with a newly remodeled farm house just out of McMinnville. Two days after they moved, Dick had a second extensive neck surgery at Oregon Health and Science University.
Dick persevered and drove countless trips back and forth from Halfway to McMinnville moving and having an auction at their old place. Dick’s family helped out a lot too.
Once settled, Dick drove bus for Gaston School District, driving regular routes and some trips. He also drove a huge tractor for a farmer and did some custom farm work. Dick worked so hard, never wanting to give up. It was getting harder and harder so he finally retired in June 2001.
Everyone there really loved him, especially the kids. Dick had always been a favorite bus driver clear back to when he drove in Halfway. He was always so patient and kind to the children and they really appreciated it.
Everyone who knew Dick knew that he loved cars and was a “FORD” man. At age 15 he bought his first car, an old 1929 Model A pickup truck.
Dick enjoyed buying and selling cars, pickups, trucks and even tractors. He almost always made a profit, and had a real understanding of cars and could tell them apart. He had a passion for old cars!
Dick lived a good clean life and always stayed out of trouble. He never drank, or smoked, and was a good Christian. He was a good example to those who loved him, and also loved his children very much. He and his wife, Patty, were baptized into Christ in 1970 and met with the Church of Christ faithfully then, and throughout his life. He loved the Lord and strove to do what is pleasing to him, and is now at peace with his Father in heaven where there is pain no more.
Survivors include his wife, Patty; parents, Scotty and Edith Towell, of Hillsboro; daughter, Dana Lacefield of Enumclaw, Wash.; sons, Jeff Towell of Baker City, Ricky Towell, of Wagoneer, Okla.; daughter, Jennifer Barnes of McMinnville; sister, Linda Van Fleet of Hillsboro; brother, Roger Towell of Cherry Grove; sister, Paula Petsche of Gaston; grandchildren, Jared, Daniel, and Bethany Lacefield of Enumclaw, Wash., and Jeffrey and Angela Towell of Elgin; 17 nieces and nephews, two sons-in-law, five brothers-in-law, and three sisters- in-law.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Kenneth Towell.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, April 19, 2002
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor