Merlin “Mel” Morasch
Sept. 22, 1923–March 21, 2018
Heaven has gained another one from the Greatest Generation. Merlin “Mel” Morasch is survived by his six children, Steven, Michael, Douglas, Alan, Melissa and Melody; 12 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; his baby sister, Ruth Williams, and her husband, Chuck; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife of 60 years and eight days, Sallie; his brothers, Ed and Bill; and sister, Aleda Pollack. Mel was born in Portland on Sept. 22, 1923.
Except for his time in the Army, Portland was the only home he knew. He graduated from Benson Polytechnic High School in 1940. After leaving Benson, he went to work at Boeing, where he proudly worked on the B-17 bomber assembly line. On April 6, 1943, he received his draft papers and joined the U.S. Army. He was placed in the Army Specialized Training Program, a higher-education program at Fordham University instituted to provision the Army with junior officers. After only nine months in this program, the Army realized they didn’t need more officers, they needed soldiers, and thus Mel began his time with the U.S. Army’s 104th Infantry Division—better known as the Timberwolves.
From the 104th’s training camp in Camp Carson, Colorado, he landed in Cherbourg, France. Serving as a medic with the 329th Medical Battalion, he was one of the first medics sent into the Nordhausen Concentration Camp to search for survivors. Honorably discharged from the Army in November 1945, he returned to Portland, where he graduated from Reed College on the GI Bill in 1947.
His first job after graduating from Reed was as a physicist for the Bonneville Power Administration. While he enjoyed his time with the BPA, he had a burning desire to have his own business. In 1956, he founded Blue Ribbon Food Service, a home delivery service of frozen food to customers throughout Oregon and Washington. Today, the family business, now Morasch Meats, employs more than 150 people at its two processing facilities in Portland and Wood Village. Remarkably, even into his 94th year, Mel still went into his office six days a week.
Throughout his life, he was an avid reader, often holding the book in one hand and his yellow magic marker or pen in the other. You could tell when he had read a book before you, either because he would note the start and end time of his reading, or he would leave numerous highlights or mark-ups supporting his position—or to demonstrate that the author was “full of malarkey!” His favorite book was the Bible. He was proud to say that in his lifetime he read the Bible 115 times.
His wife Sallie was the love of his life. Together they created a family of six uniquely talented children. He greatly missed her after her death and kept asking God to either deliver him a new wife, or to take him home. On March 21, 2018, his wish came true. The Greatest Generation on earth has lost one of its warriors, but heaven is rejoicing as he is now in his final resting place. Private interment was at Willamette National Cemetery. A memorial service has been held.
Published previously in The Oregonian.
Chester Jerome “Jerry” Guthrie
Jan. 23, 1920–April 4, 2018
Chester Jerome “Jerry” Guthrie, beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather, died at his home the evening of Wednesday, April 4, of natural causes due to complications from stroke. He was surrounded by loving family and friends throughout his final weeks.
Jerry was born and grew up in Los Angeles. He was the youngest member of the Civilian Conservation Corps when he entered at the age of 14 with an eye towards serving and earning a living during the Great Depression. He began attending Los Angeles Junior College at the age of 17 as an engineering student, a path that would lead him to a career in equipment sales and service and eventually to establishing Guthrie Machinery Company in Portland. Jerry was well-known in the industry as someone anyone could go to for perspective and advice.
Jerry moved to Portland in 1939. He married Betty Jean Hagood in 1941 after meeting her at the boarding house her mother ran in Northeast Portland. The two were married for 64 years, raised four children, ran the family business together and traveled widely throughout the world—sometimes for scuba diving or rafting outings, sometimes for volunteer work with environmental organizations or learning with Elderhostel and often just to explore and connect with the beauty and culture of other lands.
Jerry was a lifelong advocate for the preservation of nature, working both in a hands-on capacity as a volunteer and later supporting bigger projects, such as The Nature Conservancy’s Middle Fork John Day River restoration and Olympia oyster restoration at Netarts Bay, with financial funding.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Chester and Frieda Guthrie; his wife, Betty; his daughter, Elizabeth; and his sister, Virginia. He is survived by his children, Cher Foerster, Timothy Guthrie and Douglas Guthrie; his grandchildren, Michelle Guthrie, Julia Guthrie and Ryan Beck; and his great-granddaughter, Zoe Karamfilova.
A celebration of Jerry’s life will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m., Saturday, May 5, 2018, at Leach Botanical Garden, 6704 S.E. 122nd Ave. Memorial donations for Jerry may be made to The Nature Conservancy.
Published previously in The Oregonian.