Chitwood, Lawrence Allan – Obituary

La Grande, Oregon

Lawrence Allan Chitwood, 65, of Bend and formerly of La Grande, died unexpectedly of natural causes Jan. 4 while hiking up Pilot Butte. Memorial services are being planned. Visit for details.

Larry Chitwood was born Aug. 4, 1942, to Paul H. and Ruth O. Chitwood in Los Angeles. He spent his childhood in Mount Shasta, Calif., and completed high school in Klamath Falls. His early interests included music, astronomy, electronics and mechanics. He earned degrees in music and education from Whitman College in Walla Walla.

While attending Whitman, he met Karen Bergstrom of Yakima, and they married Dec. 18, 1965. The couple moved to La Grande where Larry taught music at the junior high school.

After four years of teaching, Larry changed careers. The couple moved to Portland where Larry attended Portland State University, earning a master’s degree in geology. In 1972 the family moved to Bend where he began a career in geology with the U.S. Forest Service. He had special interest in the volcanology of Central Oregon. He retired in June 2007 after 35 years as the geologist for the Deschutes National Forest.

He was instrumental in creating the Newberry Volcanic National Monument. His work is seen in the interpretive signs on the Big Obsidian Flow in Newberry Crater and at the top of Pilot Butte.

He was active in ecological resource management and the development of geothermal energy. His research was published in professional journals and he authored articles for local and national publications. He co-authored books on Central Oregon geography and meteorites. He also shared his knowledge through community talks, professional and informal field trips, Central Oregon Community College classes, programs in the public schools, 4-H, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Oregon Natural Desert Association and the Oregon Field Guide public broadcasting series. He was a guest professor at the University of Zürich in Switzerland, and he mentored college students who came to Central Oregon to do their field studies.

His musical contributions to the community included serving as pianist for the Juniper Opera Company; and performances with Pianists of Central Oregon and the Four Seasons Music Group. He also accompanied students in music adjudication and college entrance presentations.

Those who knew him say Larry was always a teacher, always a musician and always a researcher – passionate and enthusiastic about everything he did. He was a loving and devoted husband and father, and a friend to many.

He is survived by his wife Karen of Bend; son, Peter of Walla Walla; daughter, Lisa of Bellevue, Wash.; brother, Don of Portland; and his sister, Nancy Kyrié Campbell of Gresham.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to any medical research association.

La Grande Observer – Obituaries For The Week Ending January 12, 2008 – Published Jan. 10, 2008



White, Judy Wallis. Union County, Oregon Obituaries. Published by Copyright 1999-2013, all rights reserved.

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