Pine Valley, Oregon
“Old Hand” LeRoy Smelcer, 98, of Pine Valley, died April 25, 2001, at St. Elizabeth Health Services.
At his request, there will be no service.
Mr. Smelcer was born on Feb. 6, 1903, to Marvin and Milda Schmidt Smelcer. He was a 1921 graduate of Halfway High School. After graduation, he worked with his parents on their ranch.
He married Leslie Inez Denney on June 7, 1926. The newlyweds began their lifelong career in farming and cattle ranching.
In the mid-1930s, the couple purchased property adjoining that of his parents. By the mid-1940s, their first Herefords were registered, and in 1951 the home place on Pine Town Lane was purchased from his mother.
That was the beginning of a successful cow/calf operation spanning almost 60 years. One of his favorite aspects of ranching was working with the land. He raised hay, grain and alfalfa for feed. At age 97 he still enjoyed operating the swather during haying season.
As a young man, he enjoyed woodworking. He created several furniture pieces still being used by the family. He was an avid hunter throughout most of his life. He liked to attend bull sales and while traveling to neighboring states he enjoyed seeing the countryside and the crops being grown. Reading Western novels was a leisure-time favorite.
In 1995, at the age of 92, he was honored at Haines with the “Old Hand” award. He was still actively working the ranch at that time.
He was co-grand marshal of the Baker County Fair at Halfway in 1996. He led the parade riding his favorite mount, “the red horse,” a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle. On his left rode his longtime friend, Dude Douglas, a fellow co-grand marshal.
In the years that followed, he continued to ride his ranch atop “the red horse,” always accompanied by his faithful black dog, Sam.
Leslie, his loving wife of 68 years, died in 1994. He also was preceded in death by his sisters, Vyril Agan and Aletha Hubell; and two granddaughters, Elizabeth and Judy Buttice.
Survivors include four daughters, Volney Facto of Dallas, Ore., Jane Buttice and her husband, Ernie, of Walla Walla, Wash., Benita Thompson and her husband, Carroll, of Halfway and Tiz Landers and her husband, Byrl, of Richland; 12 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren; a brother, Lawrence Smelcer, and his wife, Dorothy, of Halfway; sister-in-law, Lois Raabe; and several nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Halfway Ambulance Service through the Coles-Strommer Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.
Used with permission from: The Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, May 4, 2001
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor