Mitchi Joseph Hecomovich Jr. was born Sept. 16, 1914, in Taconite, Minn., to Mitchi Joseph Hecomovich and Helen Mazar Hecomovich. He was the third of seven children.
He died Friday, Feb. 27, 2009, at his home in White Salmon.
His early schooling consisted of Marble Grade School, then his first two years of high school at Alcott High, then eight miles away to Greenway High School in Coleraine, Minn., where he was an outstanding athlete and graduated in 1933. He worked in the iron mines to earn enough money for two years at Itasca College and he also played a lot of basketball.
His sports career started at the age of 12 playing "Legion Baseball." He also played basketball and ran track in high school. He went on a basketball and baseball scholarship to Connecticut State for one season. He was approached by the St. Louis Cardinals, and they offered him everything if he'd go, but he had already signed a contract with the Winnipeg Maroons for the summer of 1937. It was in Winnipeg that he injured his knee sliding to second. Mitch then went back to the University of Minnesota and earned a bachelor of science degree in education.
In 1942, he was declared 4-F at an Army enlistment center because of his knee, but the Navy accepted him and made him Physical Fitness Instructor with the rank of CPO. Then, he was off to Gunnery School and active duty in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Mediterranean on the converted Liberty Ships. His last active duty was in Bremerton, where he left the Navy in 1946. He stayed and played pro baseball in Bremerton. After the season, he was heading home and stopped in Spokane for a career fair. Hayes Holman, superintendent of schools in White Salmon, offered him a job teaching history and physical education.
Mr. Hecomovich taught in White Salmon from 1946 to 1955, in Glenwood from 1957 to 1964, and then back in White Salmon from 1965 to his retirement in 1977. During his teaching career, he coached football, basketball and baseball. When he wasn't coaching or teaching, he enjoyed officiating. He was inducted into the Washington Officiating Association Hall of Fame in 2004.
During the late 40s while coaching his future brothers-in-law, he met their sister Olga Jane Kreps, who was a nurse in White Salmon. They were married Aug. 30, 1951, at the ranch house in Gilmer. They spent a lot of hours helping at the Kreps and Kayser ranches.
Throughout their 57 years of marriage, the Hecomovichs enjoyed spending time with their nieces and nephews, attending athletic events, and doing whatever was needed to help their community.
They loved square dancing, ballroom dancing and took great pride in gardening. Coach had many altercations with deer that continue to annoy his wife to this day.
Coach Hecomovich was also actively involved with the Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus, the Elks Lodge, the American Legion, the Washington Officiating Association, Retired Teacher's Association, Square Dancing president, Washington Cattlemen's Association, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, the Itasca Community College Alumni Association.
In 1999, the White Salmon School District named and dedicated the high school baseball field "Hec Field" in Mr. Hecomovich's honor. Recently, the Hecomovichs established the Hecomovich Endowment Fund, which benefits athletic programs in the White Salmon Valley School District.
His three brothers and three sisters preceded him in death. His wife Olga Jane and 20 nieces and nephews survive him.
In Coach's 94 years, he has accomplished much more than what was summarized here. He left his mark on this community that will never be forgotten. Hopefully, those he taught and coached will carry on his generosity toward the community.
A funeral service for Coach Hecomovich was held Wednesday, March 4, 2009, at 5 p.m. in the Columbia High School gym.
Patricia Joan Morrison died on March 1, 2009, in Hood River, at the age of 69. She was born in Oakland, Calif., to Constance Joan (Skuce) and Hugh Robert Morrison Jr. on Sept. 24, 1939.
She grew up in Berkeley, Calif., lived around the Bay area and in Fort Bragg, Calif., for 20 years. Four years ago she moved to Lyle.
Mrs. Morrison loved her cats, gardening and the outdoors. She enjoyed going to town to shop at thrift stores and clothing stores. Anytime spent with family was exciting to her, whether it be helping out in the kitchen or going to town. She had a big sweet tooth and would find any reason to bake something sweet for family and friends. She was known as "Mom" to many of her kid's friends.
She is survived by her daughters, Shelley LaFazio, Lyle, and Julie Morrison, Klickitat; brother Don Morrison, Incline Village, Calif.; and four grandchildren. She was preceded in death by husbands, William Vargas and Paul E. Phelps.
A memorial service in her memory will be held on Saturday, March 7, 2009, at 2 p.m. at Gardner Funeral Home, White Salmon.