By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Quiet retrospective of 2016 life stories

In December, I stop to read our newspaper archive of obituary articles from the previous year. It’s a quiet, reflective and often moving experience that occasionally inspires a column about some prominent names from a 400-plus list of life stories.

This year, what stood out most to me was the relative scarcity of past (or present) public figures. The 2016 list includes a broad array of good, remarkable, interesting and endearing people — some widely known, some less so — who touched local lives beyond what most of us knew.

There were, of course, some very familiar names on that list — people like Glenn Shipman, Craig Singletary and Perry Stubberfield … Gunny Brandon and Joan Rutschman … Mike Hamilton, Frank Nelson and OC Yocom.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Local people reading through those articles would uncover a trove of warm memories from their own lives. For me, some of the people in those memories were Norm Combs, Melva Probasco, Pat Sanderlin, Reita Lockett and Father Dick Treadwell.

Most readers also would experience twinges of regret for not having more personal experiences with some of the people who left us this year. In that regard, I noted names like Bob Mattecheck, Jan Carlile, Bob Clarambeau and Rosemary Ramsey … Bud Laughlin, Matt Worrix, Gordon Jernstedt and Ruben Flores Sr. … Bob McNicol, Jo Cuc, David Mann and Joan Sitton, to name a few among many.

Anyone with an N-R website account can easily browse the full chronological list of local life stories that ended in 2016. Like me, you would find people you talked with casually for decades or even your entire lives without knowing some fascinating detail of their histories. For example, Virginia Lucas was a leader in homemaker, agricultural and consumer organizations, but perhaps most recognized locally from her 25-plus years of volunteer work in the hospital gift shop. Who among us knew that in WWII, two years out of McMinnville High School, she joined the U.S. Navy and served in Washington, D.C.?

Usually, something in this obituary retrospective stops me cold with a specific flow of personal memories. This year it was Jim Allison of Dallas, someone I got to know during the 1970s when he worked at Pacific Reflex Signs in McMinnville. Ten years earlier his son, my good friend Tom Allison, died in a car accident the summer after our high school senior year.

These, indeed — to quote from music, literature and drama throughout history — are the ties that bind.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at and 503-687-1223.


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