By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Yamhill police chief dies at 64

Submitted photo
Chief Gordon Rise stands at the center of this department photo, taken on Derby Days weekend earlier this month.
Submitted photo
Chief Gordon Rise stands at the center of this department photo, taken on Derby Days weekend earlier this month.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, in the Yamhill-Carlton High School gym, under the direction of Macy & Son Funeral Directors.

Mayor Paula Terp said she was shocked and saddened to lose Rise, who died at his residence.

“He’s been a great chief for a small town,” she said. “He was always there to help, always very willing. We’re going to miss him.”

In Rise’s honor, Yamhill City Hall will lower its flag to half staff through Sunday.

His 26-year tenure as  police chief was by far the longest in the county and one of the longest in the state.

Terp said people had often kidded Rise about his reluctance to retire, or even take a vacation. But in recent months, she said, he had finally started considering calling it a career.

Rise came to Yamhill in March 1987. Previously, he had worked for the police department in South Gate, a Southern California city of about 100,000.

In addition to serving as police chief, he volunteered with the Yamhill Fire Department for several years. In 1996 , a fire truck he was driving rolled off a logging road in the hills west of town.

After the crash, in which he suffered injuries, he was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants. He was acquitted of DUII at trial, but found guilty of careless driving, a relatively minor traffic violation.

City officials and many other law enforcement officials supported him during the proceedings, and he continued his work as chief after he returned from sick leave.

Rise had been a member of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police for 25 years. He was serving as co-chair of its membership committee at the time of his death.

“He will be greatly missed,” said Kevin Campbell, executive director of the association, who sent a notice to chiefs around the state Thursday morning.

Yamhill County Sheriff Jack Crabtree said he has worked with Rise for nearly three decades. "I will for sure miss him," Crabtree said. "The citizens of Yamhill will certainly feel a huge loss with his passing."

The sheriff added that the YCSO will "do whatever we can to assist the family during this time of loss."

Many area residents and friends used Facebook to express their grief.

David Mihm posted, “My heart is heavy today. Gordon symbolized “home” for many years for me because he made everything okay in the small town of Yamhill. I remember growing up and getting pulled over and getting a warning and a short lecture and he would send me on my way because I was one of his Yamhill kids ... His frankness made us secure in knowing exactly what he expected ... Rest in peace my friend, Yamhill won’t be the same without you.”

Just hours after Rise’s death, Terp named Greg Graven interim chief. Graven is another longtime member of the force, which includes one other regular officer and several reserves.

Terp said the city will reach out to neighboring Carlton police for help covering the city while the department remains down an officer. Carlton Chief Kevin Martinez pledged his assistance, noting Yamhill had a history of helping Carlton.

Rise and his department helped in Carlton during city police chief search for new chiefs in 2010 and 2012, and continued to help cover Carlton while Martinez settled in and set about filling two vacant positions.

“Chief Rise was exceptional, always extending his troops and helping with anything we needed,” Martinez said. “To have that welcoming professionalism was really important.”

He said the two departments continue to work together. Close ties are critical to both, he said.

Under Rise, Yamhill shared Carlton’s philosophy of building a relationship with the community, Martinez said. The two departments have worked together on community events, and are planning a joint National Night Out event set for Tuesday, Aug. 6.

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