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Local farmer Howard Winter dies at 92

by: Contributed photo, Howard Winters cultivates strawberries on the his farm with Pack.

Corbett-area farmer Howard Winters, 92, whose farm still grows produce for local farmer's markets, died at his breakfast table Tuesday morning, Nov. 28.

A visitation will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, Sunday, Dec. 3, at Bateman Carroll Funeral Home, 520 W. Powell Blvd., Gresham. A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 4, at Bateman Carroll Funeral Home. Interment will follow at 12:30 p.m. at Forest Lawn Cemetery, 400 S.W. Walters Drive, Gresham. A reception will follow at 1 p.m. at Bateman Carroll Funeral Home.

Winters, blinded by macular degeneration, was no longer able to get to the fields where he enjoyed working. The Winters farm on the hilltop west of Springdale includes 240 acres and raises strawberries, raspberries, cane berries, corn, beans and small vegetable crops.

'He never stopped,' said his son, Chris. 'When he was 80-something he'd get on his trusty Yamaha four-wheeler, grab his filed-down, wore-out hoe held together with electrician's tape and head for the field to hoe a little cabbage.'

As his vision failed, Chris Winters said, 'someone else would have to follow along behind him to get the weeds he missed and that really made him mad.'

Winters, who especially enjoyed calling The Gresham Outlook, 'The Outrage,' often called the paper in that state. He would then conclude the call with an invitation to come up and visit, 'but let me know when so I can call the dogs off.' One of his two Dobermans died two months ago.

He was born Dec. 13, 1913, in Lawrence, Mich., to Andrew and Geneva Winters. His parents moved to Oregon in 1915, living in Bend, Falls City and then moving to Multnomah County in 1922.

The family moved to Corbett in 1925, where they lived in George Chamberlain's campground, first in a tent, then in a cabin during winter months.

'All they had on the wall was cardboard to keep out the wind and snow,' Chris Winters said.

Howard supported himself by working as a farmer after his parents separated in 1929, living with and learning his trade from 'Father Jim' Pounder. He graduated from Columbian High School in Corbett in 1932, and excelled in sports, playing for Bill Woodard's semi-pro team.

He struggled to start his own farm, driving a team of horses for $2 a day and doing other jobs in the area.

Unable to start a farm of his own in Depression years, he became a partner with Robert 'Tood' Larson in Winters Truck Service and in 1939, when prices for farm produce improved, began farming for good. He continued farming after World War II and accumulated enough farmland to stay in business.

'His farm is one of the few in the Corbett area that survived the post war years as a functioning economic unit,' wrote Clarence Mershon in his history 'Living East of the Sandy, Volume I.'

Howard married Ruth Woodle in 1945, who died on July 9, 1990. He was a member of the Farm Bureau.

Survivors include his sons, Howard Winters of Portland, Chris Winters, and Marven Winters of Troutdale; daughter, Eileen Winters of Portland; and brother, Merle Winters of Vancouver, Wash.

Remembrances can be made to the Columbia Grange No. 267 Helping Hands Senior Food Program, P.O. Box 299, Corbett, 97019 or to the OHSU Foundation - Macular Degeneration Research, 1121 S.W. Salmon St., Suite 200, Portland, 97205.

Bateman Carroll Funeral Home is handling arrangements.