Hermiston lost one of its pioneers with the recent death of Rich Betz.
Betz died on Nov. 26 at the age of 76.
The co-founder of Bud-Rich Potato, Betz came to Hermiston in the late 1960s to have a go at center pivot irrigation to produce potatoes for a fresh pack facility owned by his father. His partner was Walt “Bud” McDevitt. The two eventually bought the packing facility and later developed Royale Columbia Farms along the Columbia River.
Betz served on numerous boards and committees during his life, including Hermiston School Board, Oregon Potato Commission and National Potato Board. He was named Hermiston’s Businessman of the Year in 1985. He was recently given the Diamond Pioneer award by Oregon State University.
Betz was raised in the lower Yakima Valley where he was a multiple-sport athlete and state champion wrestler. He graduated from Washington State University in 1965 with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural economics. After graduating, Betz served his country in the Vietnam War as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry/Airborne Division. He was awarded two Bronze Stars to commemorate his efforts.
A celebration of life service will be held on Friday, Dec. 6 at 10:30 a.m. at New Hope Community Church, 1350 S. Highway 395, Hermiston.
A private family burial will be held at the Hermiston Cemetery.