Harold Winchester passed away peacefully on Sept. 24, 2019 at Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, Wash., at the age of 88.
Harold, better known to family and friends as “Dean,” was born in Stella, Mo., on Dec. 24, 1930, a wonderful Christmas present for his parents Floyd and Ona (Whitman) Winchester.
Dean was the second youngest of four brothers and three sisters. He spent his younger years working on farms, attending school, and playing local and farm league baseball with his brother, Virgil. His talent and passion for the game landed him playing the equivalent of minor league baseball for the Yankees.
Dean married Marlene Ann Mills, the love of his life, on Dec. 23, 1950. Grandpa always said he chose this date on purpose for two reasons: A birthday and Christmas present to himself and so that he would never forget his anniversary. Within three short years, the family grew with the birth of their daughter Carolyn (1951) and son Gary (1953). In 1956, with the chance of a new life and career, the Winchester family of four set out for Nyssa, where Dean had secured a job with the city. He enjoyed and took pride in his work and community. He was a member of the Nyssa volunteer fire department for several years. During the winter grandpa required two things: Dry boots and a clear path from the house to his city truck. No street in Nyssa was ever impassable. One of his favorite winter tasks was putting up the city Christmas lights, known as Candy Cane Lane. Long strands of large bulb Christmas lights would crisscross the main street of Nyssa with large lighted candy canes on the street light poles. It was one of the best city displays in the area at the time. His dedication led to a promotion as the street superintendent for the city. Dean worked every day, never calling in sick for 38 years, retiring on May 1, 1994.
Part of his retirement included a new house on Park Avenue in Nyssa that also included a small parcel of acreage. Grandpa became somewhat of a farmer by increasing the size of his garden and taking on a few Suffolk sheep. His acquisition of these animals was unorthodox. He brought them home in a large dog kennel in his car, and then placed in a pen in the yard. This inspired a few head of cattle. He was always willing to help and would host neighbors’ horses in the pasture on occasion.
In 2000, Dean and Marlene relocated to Irrigon to be closer to family. Again, a house with acreage allowed grandpa to continue his farming with goats, sheep, a pony, and a large garden. He and grandma spent time at church, going to yard sales every Friday morning, and frequenting Denny’s Restaurant in Hermiston. Grandpa also took up other hobbies such as golf and bowling to spend time with his grandkids and son-in-law. He made many memories golfing and new friends bowling twice a week at Desert Lanes.
Most recently, after losing his wife and selling his home in Irrigon, Dean could be found passing the hours sitting on his front porch on W. Jennie Ave., waving at every passerby, watching airplanes, and visiting with his neighbors.
Dean was preceded in death by his wife; both children; all four brothers; all three sisters; and his parents. He is survived by his grandchildren, Marc Schilling (Julie), Lori Smith (Craig), Matt Schilling; and three great-grandchildren, Colten, Trenton and Emily.
A celebration of life for Dean will be held on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 at 2 p.m. at the Columbia View Church in Irrigon.