Melvin 'Gene' Lewis
Melvin "Gene" Lewis lived most of his 84 years and 11 months in the Forest Grove area, but died Saturday morning, January 11, 2014 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland.
Recitation of the Holy Rosary at 10:30 AM followed by a Funeral Mass at 11:00 AM will be celebrated on Saturday, January 18, 2014 at the Visitation Catholic Church; 4285 NW Visitation Rd in Verboort.
Family and friends are invited to attend a reception held at the Visitation Parish Hall, following the Mass.
Rite of Christian Burial and Vault interment will take place at 2:00 p.m. following the reception.
Gene was born to Victor S. and Verna Ruth (Schoeler) Lewis on February 21, 1929 in Forest Grove, OR. He was raised an only child on the family farm in Kansas City, OR and attended the one-room schoolhouse, Kansas City School, through the 8th grade. He then attended Forest Grove High School and graduated with the Class of 1947. In high school, Gene was a quick and smart football player and varsity lettered twice for track. His talent and dedication for football allowed him to attend his first year at Pacific University on a scholarship before transferring to Oregon State College to enroll in their engineering program. He quickly became a dedicated and lifelong Beaver fan.
Gene was a member of the US National Guard, Forest Grove Division, from 1947 until he enlisted into the US Army in 1951. He served his country stateside, testing into an elite group working on nuclear technology and was honorably discharged in 1953 as a Corporal.
He happily gave up bachelorhood when he met his wife, Betty VanDyke, through her cousin, Richard VanDyke. Gene and Betty exchanged letters during their courtship while he was in Corvallis at college and she was working at First Interstate Bank in Forest Grove. They were married on May 4, 1954, beginning their 59 years together in the Verboort and Forest Grove areas. They settled onto the VanDyke family farm in 1958, where they worked and raised a family.
Gene was both a farmer and a business man, helping run the family seed company, "VanDyke Seed." He was a skilled fabricator, repairman, mechanic, plumber, truck loader/unloader and seed cleaner. Gene could fix just about anything, and when he was done, it was better than when it came from the factory.
He was an active member of the Oregon Seed Association, Pacific Seed Association, Southern Seed Association, Western Seed Association and the Field Institute of North America. Gene was elected as a Director of the Forest Grove Rural Fire District in 1975. He also served on the Visitation Church Committee for several years and was an Officer of the Visitation School PTA.
His hobbies often involved his family, and through his children and grandchildren, passed on his love of the outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping, crabbing, clam digging, ice cream eating and making, sports, dogs, photography, trap shooting, business ownership, card sharking, and traveling. He coached his kids’ sports teams and was a leader of a 4-H Rifle Club and a teacher of hunter safety. Gene served on the Visitation Catholic Church Board. While not only working on the Verboort Sausage Dinner for 57 years, he also originated the concept of dinners to go. Gene and Betty traveled with their RV to attend their children’s’ dog shows and grandchildren’s sporting events. Twice, he and Betty drove to Alaska for family fishing adventures.
He is preceded in death by his parents.
He is survived by his loving wife, Betty, of 59 years, four children and two sons-in-law, and six grandchildren; Laurie, married to Lloyd Smith, of Park City, UT, and their children Crystal, of Denver, CO, and Greg, married to Bonnie, of Bend, OR; Terry Lewis of Forest Grove, OR, and his children, Jacob of Corvallis, OR, and Hailey, of Walla Walla, WA; Vickie Lewis of Silver Springs, Maryland; Jill, married to Sydney Lovely, of Beaverton, OR, and their children Rachael and Kirstin of Beaverton, OR.
The family suggests donations in Gene's name to The ALS Association, to further research treatments and cures for Lou Gehrig’s Disease.