Frederick Eshleman Boyer Jr., 96, a former Baker County resident, died Feb. 15, 2018, on hospice from complications following a viral illness at Royalton Place in Milwaukie, surrounded by his family.
A celebration of his life will take place Saturday, March 17 at 11 a.m. at the Haines United Methodist Church. There will be a luncheon reception in the church fellowship hall after the service.
Frederick was born on Sept. 16, 1921, at Baker to Frederick Eshleman Boyer Sr. and Elsie Hough Boyer, the fourth of five children. He grew up on the family ranch near Hereford, which was homesteaded by his grandfather in 1882. Fred was only 3ﬁ when his father died. Elsie and the children kept the ranch running through many hardships, including a house fire in winter that forced them to build a new house, the Great Depression, and a rabies epidemic.
Except for his junior year of high school at Baker High, Fred attended school at Hereford, traveling by horse, buggy, and sleigh. He graduated from Hereford Union High School in 1939 and was student body president. He then went on to Oregon State College, graduating in 1943 with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture. In college, he was president of his dorm, Buxton Hall, vice president of the Agriculture Club, secretary of Alpha Zeta, the national agriculture honor society, member of the Independent Student Council and of Blue Key, the senior men’s honor society. He was in ROTC and was president of his senior class.
Following college Fred entered the Navy and was commissioned as an ensign in December 1943, serving until 1946. His service included two years on the assault transport USS Dorothea Dix, deploying to both European and Pacific theaters. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, he was in charge of several landing craft at Omaha Beach. His own vessel sank and he was missing in action for five days, rejoining his ship in England as they were holding a memorial service for him.
After the military, Fred worked for the Oregon State College Extension Service as a 4-H agent in Corvallis for one year before accepting a position with Park Davis & Co. in San Francisco. It was there that he met and, on Feb. 6, 1948, married his wife, Barbara Lindsay of Waukegan, Illinois. She was a medical secretary for Pan Am World Airways. They lived in Walnut Creek, California, until 1956. They had one daughter, Mary, and Fred was stepfather to Barb’s adult son, Jim Olson.
When they moved to the Willamette Valley in 1956, Fred began with Willamette Production Credit Association as a field agent living in Hillsboro and Salem. He advanced to vice president in 1960 and was elected president in 1980, retiring in 1983 but returning as a consultant for two years. Active in business and community affairs, Fred was a charter member and secretary of the Oregon Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, organized in 1960, later serving on the board of directors and as president. He was a longtime member of the Salem Rotary Club and the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, serving as director and as treasurer. He was also a longtime supporter and bell ringer for The Salvation Army.
Fred invested in several rental properties in Salem in the 1980s and 1990s, but after developing macular degeneration and losing his eyesight, he gradually sold them. He and Barbara were married for 35 years, until her death in 1985 from an aneurysm. He was later married to Pat Koenig Boyer and Gerry Choate Boyer, both ending in divorce. After Barbara’s death he decided life was too short not to play and he bought into Eagle Crest Resort near Redmond, where he would take his family each summer. Fred was loved and respected by his clients, employers, renters, friends, and family. He always loved Baker and coming to visit. He was grand marshal of the Cattlemen’s Association 100th anniversary parade in 2013 with Charles Chandler, both sons of founders of the Cattlemen’s Association.
After retirement, Fred bought a tree farm near Molalla and was happy to be back in the country. When he quit driving, he and Gerry moved to Oregon City. In 2014 he moved into assisted living in Oregon City and then in Milwaukie to be near his grandson.
Fred enjoyed listening to Oregon State sports on his radio, going on outings with his grandson, and visits to his daughter’s home in Baker City. He lived with his blindness with grace and courage, walking four miles a day with a white cane, saying “so people wouldn’t think I was drunk.” In his earlier years he had loved camping, working on the tree farm, occasionally hunting and fishing, and travel, including his only return visit to Omaha Beach in 1999.
Fred is survived by his daughter, Mary; his grandson, Jason Daniel; his nieces and nephews, Kent and Anita Nelson, Gayle and Scott Butterworth, Dale and Grace Boyer, Brian and Lyndee Laurance, Duane Boyer, Karen and Bill Greeley, and all their children. Fred’s only concerns were for others. He was known by all for his kind demeanor, his sense of humor, his integrity and his generosity. He will be greatly missed by his family.
Fred was preceded in death by his siblings and their spouses: Ken Boyer (Joanne), Eleanor Boyer Mackan (Edgar), Virginia Boyer Laurance (David), and Kathryn Boyer Nelson (Robert; and two nieces, Diane Boyer Farrington (Norman) and Eva Mackan Rank.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Salvation Army or the Haines United Methodist Church in care of Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel, 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.