CATHLAMET - Howard Nels Magnuson, 80, a lifelong resident of the Naselle-Grays River area, died Oct. 3, 2004, in Cathlamet. The last surviving child of Eric and Ida (Peterson) Magnuson, he was born Sept. 25, 1924, at the family farm in Grays River. His father was a Swedish immigrant.
Mr. Magnuson attended schools in Grays River and Rosburg, and he attended Naselle High School. With the outbreak of World War II he joined the U.S. Army Air Force in 1942 and trained as a ball turret gunner on B-17 aircraft, stationed in the European Theatre of action. His was a notoriously dangerous job and an easy target for enemy fighter aircraft. On his 12th mission aboard the Pistol Packin' Mama over Germany the plane was shot down, and he became a prisoner of war at one of the infamous Stalag prison camps.
With the end of the war, Mr. Magnuson returned to Grays River and married Joyce Kimball on Nov. 17, 1945, in Skamokawa. Their first home was in Altoona where both worked at the salmon cannery. Later he went to work as an equipment operator for the Washington Department of Transportation. For eight years he drove log truck for Wirkkala Brothers and then began a 28-year career with Weyerhaeuser Timber, driving and working at the Deep River sorting yard. Before retiring in the early 1980s, he also worked for DeBrie Logging.
Mr. Magnuson was very proud of his military service and was a member of the VFW in Naselle and Astoria; Disabled American Veterans of Longview; and the American Legion of Naselle. He loved listening to Scandinavian music, enjoyed hunting and fishing, and his jokes and stories were shared with many. He literally never knew a stranger and shared hard candy with anyone, whether he knew them or not. He had a soft spot for animals and was close to his beloved cat Spookey and dog Bingo. If he found a stray animal, he always found it a home. He was a loving family man, blessed with many friends.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Joyce, at the family home in Naselle; daughters and sons-in-law. Debbie and Mark Agee of Naselle and Dee and Bruce Wirkkala of Longview; sons Doug Magnuson of Kalama and Don Magnuson of Naselle; 11 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by sisters Edith Dunham and Margaret Magnuson; and brothers Harold, Robert, Gilbert, Delmar and Arthur.
A funeral service will be held at 3 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Grays River Methodist Church. Following a graveside service at Grays River Cemetery, a reception will be held at the Rosburg Hall. The casket will be open Wednesday, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m., until 5 p.m., at Penttila's Chapel by The Sea in Long Beach and Thursday, Oct. 7 from noon until 2 p.m., at the church in Grays River. Memorials may be made to the Disabled American Veterans in care of Penttila's Chapel by The Sea, P.O. Box 417, Long Beach, WA 98631.