Gus Wahner Passes Away at 72

Gus Wahner

Lynn “Gus” Marion Wahner passed away on Dec. 12, 2020 at his home in Stanfield at the age of 72.

He was born on Aug. 19, 1948 in Pendleton to Patricia Joan Finch and Royce Eldon Wahner.

Gus lived on the family farm on the Umatilla River since he was 11 years old. He moved away briefly to expand his knowledge of locally produced whole foods in Pullman, Portland and Aptos (Santa Cruz area of California). He attended school in Stanfield in the early years and finished at Hermiston High School in 1967, where he was a standout wrestler, football center and middle linebacker. He was selected to the all-star football team and played in the all-star game in Portland in 1967. He recalled it was hot and they practiced three times per day.

He received an athletic scholarship to Washington State University, where he studied animal science and pledged to the Sigma Chi fraternity. He reflected that he met some great people and found this to be an excellent learning experience despite adversities, which led him to leave school early. “Adversities in my early years helped prepare me to get through more difficult adversities later in life.”

Gus met Shannon the first day of June 1985 in Stanfield and they were married on Dec. 7, 1985 in Hermiston, which solidified his life. They traveled to Portland, and in 1989 to the Santa Cruz area, to learn more about the economics of growing and marketing organic sustainable produce from Cabrillo Junior College.

Gus was baptized and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2004. He and Shannon were sealed in the Columbia River Temple in Richland, Wash. on Dec. 7, 2005.

Upon moving back to the Stanfield area, Gus and Shannon started their own small farm business called Way of Life Farms, implementing many of the sustainable farming practices and marketing they learned on their travels. Gus, with a group of other local small sustainable farmers, started the Pendleton Farmers Market, which sustains today. Gus was an educator and mentor to other farmers and interns, assisting them in establishing their own small farms and marketing their produce at farmers markets or direct sale. In his passing, Gus is hopeful that all those he mentored will continue to make the soil great and grow healthy food for themselves, families, and our communities.

Gus served on the Umatilla County Soil and Water Conservation District board for more than 15 years, promoting regenerative agriculture, improving soil biology, implementing soil health measures, and promoting local small farmers.

He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Shannon Meree McDonald Wahner; aunt, Fran Coppinger; cousins, Chuck Higganbotham, Sandi Greene and Suzi Thompson; and many longtime friends.

Gus was preceded in death by his parents.

A graveside funeral service will be held on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020 at 1 p.m. at the Hermiston Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Gus’ name may be made to Vange John Memorial Hospice education fund.

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Burns Mortuary of Hermiston is in care of arrangements.