OCEAN PARK - Lifelong peninsula resident George Dewey Church, Jr., 82, died on Aug. 12, 2003 at his home in Ocean Park after a lengthy illness. Born on Oct. 17, 1920 on the family homestead near the present location of the bowling alley in Ilwaco, he was the son of George D. and Josephine M. (Oller) Church, Sr.
He grew up in Ilwaco where his father was a logger and a fisherman who fished with nets and horses along the Columbia River. He attended the local schools, excelled in Latin which was his favorite class and graduated from Ilwaco High School in 1940.
On Feb. 2, 1942 he married Frances Chellis, a high school classmate. They made their home in Seattle where he worked for the Boeing company. At the time of his death the couple had been married for 61 years.
Mr. Church wanted to work in the timber industry so they moved from Seattle to Naselle where he went to work in the woods. Knowing he would be serving in the military he moved his wife home to Ocean Park to be near her family. During World War II he was a member of the U.S. Army and served in the South Pacific with the operating engineers.
After fulfilling his military obligation he returned to Ocean Park where he and his wife built their home and he worked for a plumber for $1.00 per hour. After one year he went to work for Brick's Logging in Naselle and continued working in the woods for various gyppo loggers. He worked for Penttila's Logging Camp in Alaska. At one time they lived in a camp where mobile homes were mounted on log rafts and floated in the bay with ramps connecting the homes to the shore. Employed as a welder in Juneau he worked on the Federal building and also the Friendship Bridge. The couple came home each winter but Mr. Church loved Alaska and for many years they returned every year for the work season.
During the years he was employed as a timber faller in southern Oregon he became known for laying his trees out neatly and being one of the fastest fallers around. His family never knew what he would bring home in his lunch bucket - an orphaned flying squirrel, raccoon, owl or another small animal which they would raise and send back to the wild when the animal could fend for itself. Only once, when he brought home a rambunctious bear cub, did his wife refuse to take it in, she insisted he find a home for it elsewhere.
He was a member of and had been head elder for many years of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Long Beach. A friendly man who was well liked by all who knew him, he was always willing to help others. He was well read, could fix anything, was an excellent welder and fabricator and appreciated and collected tools, especially vise grips! His hobbies and interests included metal work, fishing, hunting, clam digging, photography and in his later years studying the bible by searching out the root meanings of the Greek and Hebrew passages. He was a true family man who always insisted his first love was Alaska and his second love was his true love, his wife, the only girl he ever dated.
Preceded in death by two brothers Bob and Jack Church and a son George Michael Church in 1992, he is survived by his wife Frances of the family home in Ocean Park; daughters Judy Linn of Vancouver and Mary Ellen Johnston of Yacolt; sisters Leona Olson of Hoquiam and Rosalie Spangler of Hamburg, N.Y.; 11 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Private cremation has been held. A memorial service will be held at noon on Monday, Aug. 25 at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Long Beach. A reception will follow at the Super 8 Motel in Long Beach.
The family suggests that those wishing to make memorial contributions make them to Harbors Home Health and Hospice, P.O. Box 716, Ilwaco, WA 98624 or the Seventh Day Adventist Church Building Fund, 2707 Pacific Avenue North, Long Beach, WA 98631. Arrangements entrusted to Penttila's Chapel by The Sea, Long Beach.