A lifetime of service to Crook County
- Ramona McCallister
- Central Oregonian - News
Former Crook County District Attorney Jim Minturn is selected as the 2012 Crooked River Roundup Grand Marshal
“I was absolutely amazed.”
That was the response from Jim Minturn when he was informed that he had been chosen as the 2012 Crook County Grand Marshal.
Minturn remarked that there were lots of other men that he felt were deserving, and more involved in the agriculture field, who had contributed much to the community. Most who know Minturn however, would not argue about his contributions and involvement in the community.
“When the Roundup looks for someone to serve as Grand Marshal, we try to look at what they have done to help to grow the Crooked River Roundup, and what they have done as a citizen in Crook County to help make this a better place to live and to grow our community, to be what we all want it to be,” commented Crooked River Roundup Board Treasurer Doug Smith.
Minturn emanates that kind of citizen. He has served on the Crooked River Roundup Board, chaired the Crook County Fair Board, and has been involved in the Wilderness Trail Riders for more than 40 years. In addition, he has served on the Crook County School Board (two terms as chairman), the Prineville Hospital Foundation, the Crook County Commission on Children and Families, and numerous other committees. He has also been a member of the Kiwanis Club, the Elks Lodge, the Masonic Lodge, Friends of the Crook County Library, the Historical Society, and the Humane Society of the Ochocos. These memberships and boards don’t even take into account the positions he has held in his career as a district attorney and with other state programs and committees.
Minturn came to Prineville in 1952, after passing his bar exam for the State of Oregon. He started college at Willamette University soon after he graduated from high school. He grew up in the depths of the Depression, and his father died when he was 17 years old. Only months later, his older brother died while serving in the war.
“It was really hard on us, because my mom lost her husband on April 1, and her son on July 7, 1944,” recalled Minturn.
He joined the service before his 18th birthday, and shortly after he was old enough, he was called to basic training in Louisiana. He was then sent to Arizona to await flight training. They were there until September.
“The war ended in August,” said Minturn. “So there we were. They had so many men, they didn’t know what to do with them all.”
He said that they had a two-week delay in route — then they were to report to their post in Illinois. Minturn hitchhiked to Illinois, and after two weeks, they were given the choice to go to the infantry in Germany as part of the occupation force or take a discharge.
“Of course everyone in the outfit took a discharge.”
Minturn chose to go back and finish where he had started his college education at Willamette University. It was at this point that he chose ultimately to go to law school.
His mother was a school teacher, and Minturn was the youngest of six children. His parents made sure that their children had the opportunity to go to college. He had served enough years in the military to earn most of his college education. He was very proud of the fact that he finished his education without any debt.
Minturn took his first job as an attorney working for Jim Bodie and Vernon Burda in Prineville. He had known them from law school. They were a couple of classes ahead of him, and they had also served in the military. When they needed a third person in their law firm, they called Minturn — who had recently passed his bar exam. He packed up everything he had in the world into his used car, and moved to Prineville.
Minturn served as the Crook County District Attorney from 1954 until 1964. His first big case involved an armed robbery. Although the plaintiff retained a good defense attorney from out of town, Minturn won his case. Later, after he resigned as the district attorney, he went into practice with Jim VanVoorhes, Jim Larson, and Steve Dixon.
Minturn has seen many changes in his lifetime. Even after he retired from practicing law in 1994, he chose to be involved and to contribute to his community. He has survived two separate bouts with cancer, but hasn’t let it slow him down too much. This year, he plans on resuming his participation in The Wilderness Trail Riders. He had to take a hiatus from riding for a couple of years because of the affects of his treatments.
“I had practically no illness my entire life, and then suddenly — wham.”
Minturn said that of all his positions on boards and committees, he found his time serving on the board of lawyers for Eastern Oregon and his position on the school board to be a very rewarding.
“The Fair Board was interesting, the Roundup Board, and the Hospital Foundation,” said Minturn. He also enjoyed being on the committee for building the new high school.
Minturn has been married for 57 years to his wife Barbara, and he has 14 grandchildren.
When asked about his most proud accomplishment, he didn’t miss a beat.
“I am most proud of my four children,” remarked Minturn. “They have earned nine college degrees between them — and no debt. They all worked hard every chance they had, and were all good students.”