Island City, Oregon
William Healey Oberteuffer
William Healey Oberteuffer, 86, known as “Bill Obie,” died in his home in Island City Sept. 24.
A memorial service in Portland will take place at 2 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Tryon Farm, followed by refreshments. A memorial service in the La Grande area will take place at noon Nov. 4 at the Summerville Pine Grove Grange, followed by a potluck. Remembrances can be sent to the Union County Extension Service for the Oberteuffer research and education forest. Donations can be sent to the Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St., La Grande.
Mr. Oberteuffer was born Nov. 4, 1919, in Spokane to George Herman and Mildred Oberteuffer. His family moved to Portland where he graduated in 1937.
After working that summer at Camp Meriwether, a Boy Scout camp run by his father, he and two other Eagle Scouts rode horses along the Pacific Crest Trail from Mount Hood to the Mexican border. He then attended Reed College for a year before transferring to Oregon State University to complete a degree in agriculture.
In 1941, he married Margaret Sengstake Young, his childhood sweetheart.
During World War II, he worked in a shipyard and as a substitute teacher. What began as a temporary job turned into a lifelong career and an all-encompassing identity: teacher.
He received a master’s degree in science teaching from OSU and worked in the Portland Public School system for more than 30 years as a science and horticulture teacher.
All of his life, he had a commitment to preserve and sustain the earth. He taught this to his students in the classroom and beyond. He and his wife took a one-year sabbatical from teaching and backpacked around the world comparing education systems and natural history in 27 countries.
A lifelong dream of being a rancher was actualized in 1974 when he and Margaret purchased 160 acres of what became known as the Smilin’ O Ranch at the base of Stubblefield Mountain outside of Elgin. In the summers the Oberteuffers ran an informal summer camp where previous students and other young people came to work and learn in exchange for room and board, a weekend adventure of rafting, horseback riding or hiking, and an education in country living.
In addition to striving for sustenance at the Smilin’ O, he and Margaret managed more than 100 acres of forest that supplied some income as well as lumber for fences, buildings and firewood.
He graduated as a Master Woodland Manager from the OSU Extension Service and was twice the chairman of the Union County Small Woodlands Association. He became a strong proponent of sustainable forestry and was recognized as an expert in this field. In 1994, when they sold the ranch and moved to Island City, they donated 113 acres of managed forest to OSU for education and research purposes.
Margaret died in 2000. He married Jacque Lee in 2001.
Some of his memberships and involvements included: the National Education Association; 25 years with the Boy Scouts of America, including leading troops to two International Jamborees; Mountain Rescue of Oregon Association; state and national Small Woodlands Association; Blue Mountain Natural Resource Institute; originator and coordinator of Rebarrow Community Reforestation Project; Oregon Watershed Improvement Coalition; Ecoforestry Institute, square dance caller; and Mazamas Mountaineering Club. He was known to many through his prolific letters to the editor.
Awards and recognitions include: Oregon Biology Teacher of the year; Portland Outstanding Secondary Teacher; Outstanding Woodland Manager; national award from the U.S. Forest Service for volunteerism and two-time Union County tree farmer of the year. He was appointed to the State Board of Forestry by Gov. Barbara Roberts, but the appointment was not approved by the Oregon Senate. He was awarded the Mazama Cup for being of great benefit to the mountaineering group and the 16-peak award for climbing all the major peaks in the Cascades, and in 1996 he was added to the Mazamas Honorary Members list.
Survivors include his wife, Jacque Lee Oberteuffer, and his sister, Georgie Packwood.
The Observer, La Grande, Oregon – Obituaries for the week ending Oct.. 28, 2006, Published: October 30, 2006