Hermiston-Area Farming Pioneer John Walchli Passes Away at 84


John Walchli, who got his start in farming raising watermelons while still in high school and whose name stamped on a watermelon signaled the unofficial start of summer, died at the age of 84.

John Walchli

Walchli died on Wednesday at his home in Hermiston. The Walchlis are one of the area’s farming pioneer families who, over the years, expanded their farm to include potatoes, wheat, cattle, buffalo and other crops including, of course, watermelons.

Walchli won the Oregon Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year award in 1969 and twice received the Soil and Water Conservation Award. He served on the Oregon Wheat League, the Oregon Cattleman’s Association, the Oregon-California Potato Marketing Committee, the Umatilla County Farm Bureau, National Potato Promotion Board, and the Oregon Potato Commission, among others. He also served on the board of directors for both PGG and Inland Empire Bank.

A celebration of life service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 at 1 p.m., at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center in Hermiston.


  1. I graduated in 1964 and left Hermiston but the Walchi name was high profile for many years. High quality produce and anything else that they ever did. Janice Ezell, Portland, Oregon

  2. Not a more generous man,very humble and never forgot his meager beginnings.The entire Walchli family has been very kind and generous to myself and my family ever since I met them over 40 yrs. ago.John was head of the clan and will be missed by one and all.I personally will miss those holiday cheers with him and Skip and the rest of the boys at the shop.I am very sorry for loss to all of the Walchli’s,he was a very fine man and truly a pioneer to the ag industry and a real leader of eastern Oregon farming.

  3. John Walchli is like an uncle I never had. An inspiration in my life, family and friends. I look forward to the day when we meet again!♥️

  4. John Walchi, He was a great man and would do just about anything to help a person. He will be greatly missed. I grew up in Hermiston and pitched watermelons for him along time ago. my prayers go out to his family. R.I.P. John. Until we meet again. Love Candy (Wizner)

  5. John Walchi was a great man and always willing to help anyone. My prayers are with his family. I use to pitch melons along time ago for him, I grew up in Hermiston, He will be deeply missed Until we meet again.Love Candy (Wizner)

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