Byron Charles Brinton, 93, of Baker City, died March 22, 2005, at his home with his family at his side.
Funeral services will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 1995 Fourth St. The Rev. Susan Barnes will officiate. A brief graveside service will be held at Mount Hope Cemetery. A reception will follow at First Presbyterian Church.
Visitations will be held Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Gray’s West & Company Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave.
Byron was born in a “print shop” on Jan. 28, 1912, to Charles McKay and Elizabeth Rose (Mueller) Brinton in Fessenden, N.D.
He attended schools there, at Browning, Mont., Marcus, Wash., and graduated from North Powder High School in 1929. He served in the United States Navy during World War II in San Francisco.
He attended the University of Oregon, earning a junior certificate with honors. He quit in 1934 to become editor of The Record-Courier, a post he held until 1999. He became publisher in 1959 after buying his family’s interest in the paper and served in that capacity until 2004, when he sold to his son Byron (RonD).
He married Roberta Lee Wright, a graduate of Haines High School, on Sept. 14, 1935, and to this union five children were born: Lynn Ann, Ross Burr, Byron Dorsey, Alice Kathleen and Greg Charles.
Byron grew up in the printing business, saying in a Courier Christmas greeting in 1992: “I was born in a printshop, that is, in living quarters with dividing door within a few feet of the huge gas engine that powered the plant 6 a.m. til 6 p.m., six days a week. My mother was a compositor til Dad installed one of the first Linotypes before I was born.”
His name first appeared on the masthead when his family bought the Haines Record and the North Powder News in 1928, where he was listed as Assistant Editor, Manager.
Byron’s career spanned the whole history of printing, from hand-composed forms printed on a handfed press to rotary letterpress and rotary offset composed on computers.
Byron’s memberships and involvements reads like a Who’s Who in Baker and Baker County history, including: member of Kiwanis, 1930s; charter member Baker Jaycees; charter member Evergreen Ski Club; charter member of the National Ski Patrol; secretary of the Anthony Lakes Playground Association; secretary of the Hells Canyon Development Association; honorary member of 4-H and FFA; honorary life member of Powder River Sportsmen’s Club; charter member of the Sumpter Valley Railroad; member of the Baker County Historical Society; member and past president of the Baker County Museum Commission; member of the Oregon Water Resources Board; member of the Bonneville Power Administration Board; worked on the “Save the Minam River” group that led to the formation of that wilderness area; secretary of the Baker Manager Form Charter draft committee 1948-1952; organizing president of Anthony Lakes Corp. for two years and several years service on the Oregon Geographic Names Board.
He was awarded the Diamond Service to Agriculture in 1993.
Byron devoted years of personal and newspaper attention to promotion and organization of the Baker Valley project and Mason Dam authorization. He represented the region at Oregon hearings, House and Senate hearings and 19 days at the outset of Federal Power Commission hearings on Snake River hydroelectric development, testifying before the Senate on three different occasions.
He did local and legislative work assuring transportation routes to Hells Canyon and Snake River, was spokesman for Anthony Lakes market road and forest access prior to the ski area expansion and was with a group who pioneered federal interests that located present loop road access to Wallowa County and the Hells Canyon rim.
He was one of several who successfully prevented the freeway from by-passing Baker City, promoted with city leaders a central interchange and four-lane 10th Street and Campbell Street developments and held an important role in forest-federal-state negotiations that assured the Tipton Highway 7 cutoff.
He was also an activist in the Historical Society preservation of the Natatorium for the Oregon Trail Regional Museum and its restoration.
Byron has been an advocate of soil and water conservation, resource preservation and utilization, a quality city and county and was one of the earliest to forecast the energy crunch.
In a story written in 1984, he summarized his 50-year editorship “as a consistent mixture of advocating growth, clean air, pure water, productive soil, green forests, people responsibility and the bond of a free press.” He was honored as Grand Marshal at the Haines Stampede Rodeo, Miners Jubilee in Baker City and the Halfway fair parade. He never missed attending the Halfway fair and always held a spot in his heart for this event.
He enjoyed the outdoors and was one of the first, with his wife Roberta, to take a lease on a cabin site at Anthony Lakes. When he could take time away from work, he enjoyed fishing.
He enjoyed huckleberry picking and hiking with Roberta and their dogs, and during a couple of years period, they traveled on weekends to put together a “Travelog” feature for his newspaper.
He was a kind and caring man, a good husband and father and really enjoyed his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Roberta in 1993 and other family members.
He is survived by his children, Lynn West of Portland, Ross and his wife, Georgia, of Baker City, Byron of Baker City; Alice Williamson and her husband, Larry, of Alta, Wyo., and Greg and his wife, Trish, of Baker City; grandchildren, Douglas Paul Remington and his wife, Annie, of Boston, Holly Ann Remington of Portland, Charley Burr Brinton and his wife, Misty, of Baker City, Morgan Elaine Brinton of Driggs, Idaho, Katie Jo (Williamson) Murdock and her husband, Cory, of Driggs, Idaho, Anna Lee (Williamson) Baler and her husband, Eric, of Tetonia, Idaho, Larry Adam Williamson and his wife, Robbi, of Driggs, Idaho, and Kaila and Julie Hughes of Baker City; great-grandchildren, Ashley Kaye and Bryce Charles Brinton of Baker City, Jesse and Russell Murdock of Driggs, Idaho, and Kinley Kathleen and Eric Remington Bahler of Tetonia, Idaho.
He is also survived by three brothers, Don, Tim and Tom, and two sisters, Ardis and Elizabeth.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Oregon Trail Regional Museum or Sumpter Valley Railroad in care of Gray’s West & Company, P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.
Source: The Record Courier, Baker City, Oregon
Contributed by: Gary Jaensch