Obituaries for Sept. 10, 2012

By The Observer September 13, 2012 09:47 am

Wayne L. Foster

Baker County


Wayne Libby Foster, 92, a longtime Baker County rancher, died Aug. 21 at home with his family present. A memorial service was held Sept. 9 at the United Methodist Church in Baker City, followed by a dinner for family and friends.

Wayne was born Sept. 9, 1919, in Stockton, Calif., to Arthur Albert “Bert” and Mary Rebecca (Libby) Foster. He grew up on a small farm near Santa Rosa, Calif., attending school there through the first year of junior college. He graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 1938.

Wayne had a short childhood, as his father suffered a debilitating illness when Wayne was six years old. Being “the man of the house” came with many responsibilities that required a strong work ethic, which he kept his entire life.

In spite of many chores before and after school, he excelled in several hobbies. Wayne raised and raced homing pigeons at a young age, a hobby that culminated in winning a race from Salt Lake City to home base in Santa Rosa in one day. His winning bird carried a message from the governor of Utah to the governor of California, which he personally delivered.

Throughout high school Wayne was very active in FFA. At first his focus was on hogs, which won him many awards, including top showmanship at the 1936 California State Fair. He then shifted his attention to sheep, which led to the beginning of many years in the sheep business. The last of the sheep were sold in 2006.

Wayne and his friend Dick Gray both received the FFA American Farmer Degree award in 1938. Wayne had the honor of addressing the FFA convention in Kansas City, Missouri, by NBC radio on a national feed. Dick was best man at Wayne’s wedding.

Maxine Myra Smith, three years his junior, caught his eye in high school. Four years later, on Oct. 4, 1942, they were married. Their first home was on a leased ranch northeast of Santa Rosa.

Wayne was drafted into service for World War II but while at the induction center in San Francisco, officials pulled him from the line and sent him home to serve the war effort raising lambs and contributing wool.

By the end of 1943 Wayne and Maxine moved their growing operation to the Demming Ranch southeast of Cloverdale, Calif. They remained there for 20 years, raising their family: Kathleen Diana (Kit), born in 1944; Calvin James (Cal), born in 1947; and Donovan Wayne (Don), born in 1954.

In 1962 Wayne acquired the lease for the historic McNab Ranch in Mendocino County, south of Ukiah, Calif. By this time he was leasing three ranches and raising more than 2,500 ewes and a few cows. In 1966 he purchased a ranch near Roseburg, and the family moved there that summer. This was a very productive ranch that conservatively ran 1,200 ewes and 250 cows.

This property allowed him to trade up in 1976 to the present ranch south of Baker City. After 33 years of ranching in Baker County, Wayne and Maxine retired and split the ranch between Don and Cal.

Wayne had a very full and active life. He passed away only 19 days short of his 93rd birthday, and he and Maxine would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Oct. 4.

Wayne was an avid hunter and fisherman, taking many pack trips into the Eagle Cap Wilderness for deer and elk. He had many hobbies, including running hounds on bobcat, bear and cougars, calf roping, reining (bridal) horse competition and stock dog training and competition. His prowess with dogs was well-know. He was cofounder of the Redwood Empire Sheep Dog Association.

He was preceded in death by his parents; older sister, Edwina Elway, and her husband, John; and younger sister, Blanche Raglan.

Survivors include his wife Maxine of Baker City; brother-in-law, Charles Raglan of Penryn, Calif.; sister-in-law, Jeanie Smith of Santa Rosa, Calif.; children and their spouses, Kit and Glen of Spokane Valley, Wash., Cal and Vickie Lou and Don and Vickie Gayle, all of Baker City; nine grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to either the Oregon FFA Foundation or the Baker Livestock Association Ranching Heritage Fund in care of Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home P.O. Box 543, Halfway 97834.