Elmer Melton Werth 1921 - 2021

Elmer Melton Werth, 99, died January 21, 2021, near Sheridan, Oregon, following a brief illness. He was born July 2, 1921, at the family farm at Valley Junction, Oregon, the oldest of two sons of Walter and Gladys Werth. He grew up surrounded by many of his over 50 first cousins. Some of them, as well as more distant relatives, attended the grade school there before graduating with him from Willamina High School. Many remained his friends for life.

On June 17, 1943, Elmer married a high school classmate, Elsie F. Clark. They were married for over 70 years and were the last two survivors of the Willamina Class of 1938, until her death in 2016. Until his death, Elmer was also the last person known to have ridden the rail line motor bus, the Galloping Goose, having taken it at the age of three with his mother from Valley Junction, east to connect with the steam locomotive to Newberg. He also clearly remembered the stock market crash of 1929 that resulted in the loss of his savings in the Willamina Bank.

He attended Oregon Agricultural College (now OSU) in Corvallis, majoring in Agriculture Engineering. In recognition of his academic achievement, he became a member of Phi Kappa Phi. Elmer was enrolled in ROTC at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After his college graduation in Corvallis, he applied for and was accepted for weather forecasting training in an Army Air Corps program at UCLA. With a 7-day leave part way through his course, he traveled by plane and train back to McMinnville, Oregon, to get married. After several duty assignments on the east coast and promotion to 1st Lieutenant, Elmer served in the Pacific Theater. He was stationed in the Philippines on the northern island of Luzon. Together with his men, their mission was to accurately predict weather systems that might interfere with the planned invasion of Japan. After demobilization, he returned to Fort Lewis and was honorably discharged from active duty in June 1946. For his service, he received a WWII Victory Medal, an American Theater Service Medal, an Asiatic Pacific Service Medal with one Bronze Star, and a Philippine Liberation Medal with one Bronze Star.

Following his discharge, he decided to join the family farm with his father. Over the course of his life, he involved himself with numerous boards and committees. These included church, school and fire district boards, Soil and Water Conservation boards, the Polk County Planning Commission and many years as a local 4-H club leader. Throughout his life, Elmer was a frequent writer of letters to the editor in local newspapers. He also loved to travel, making trips to Mexico, New Zealand, Europe and Alaska. He never lost his love of fishing.

He is survived by his three children, Jo Yates of Dallas, and Jim and Dennis Werth of Valley Junction; a brother, Dean Werth of Newberg, six grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. His passing leaves a huge hole in the lives of his many friends and relatives who loved him deeply. To honor Elmer’s life, contributions to a charity of choice are welcomed.

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