Roger Black, born in Springville, Utah, on May 8, 1942, to Claude and Nina (Stevens) Black, passed away peacefully at the Oregon Veterans Home in The Dalles, Ore., on May 16, 2019.
His parents packed up and moved to White Salmon after living in Utah and Idaho. This was no easy task with four other siblings. They ended up settling in Husum. There, the house became home to many and Roger always had friends over. Roger never knew a stranger, so I have no doubt that he kept his mom busy cooking for everyone!
Roger graduated from Columbia High School in 1961. Following graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy where he took up the trade of jet mechanic. He was assigned to the Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Coral Sea. The United States was engaged in Vietnam and Roger proudly served his country during this time.
Roger returned home, along with his brothers Dennis and Boyce who also served their country. He found work in places like Broughton Lumber, SDS and finally went to work for Washington State Department of Transportation where he worked until his retirement. After retirement, he decided to drive school bus for the Trout Lake School District and then on to log trucks for Mountain Logging.
The year 1979 would change his life forever, there he met my mom, Connie. Oh, and me! Their “Love Story” began as a blind date at what used to be Wolf’s Restaurant located on State Route 14 in what was referred to as Rockland. This first date went well, and they continued to date. I approved the dating and they were married on Dec. 4, 1979.
In 1980, my sister, Sarah, was born. I was pretty excited to have a little sister and my dad was thrilled to have a baby girl to spoil! We lived at the “Schreiner Ranch” then and from there we moved to Lyle. My folks loved Trout Lake and worked hard at saving money, my dad would work extra jobs wherever he could. Soon, they had enough money to buy some property in Trout Lake. They started off with a four-acre parcel. They worked the property for several years until they were able to move there when Sarah was still young. In 1993, they purchased their “dream home” aka “The Big House” where he resided until his death.
My dad was in the first Reserve Deputy Class for the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office. He gladly volunteered his time at rodeos, parades and the Klickitat County Fair. He was involved in Little League baseball helping get the organization on track in the early 80s. I remember him piling all the baseball equipment in his 1936 Dodge truck.
Soon after the purchase of the “Big House” my folks received a phone call from a U.S. Cross Country Ski Coach. They were looking for somewhere to stay while they dry land trained for the Olympics. Well of course my folks said yes and that began the year they purchased the home. Those kids spent the whole summer training. This started a tradition and from there on their house has been opened to numerous cross country skiers. The first “batch” of kids of course are grown now, some are coaches and many have successful careers.
Roger loved family and extended family. A lifetime of friendships often brought a knock on the door. The open-door policy meant you never knew who was stopping by or who might be having dinner. I remember stranded motorists coming home and staying until they could get parts to get them on the road. Hunters sometimes needing to get their “ game” hung and ended up staying for dinner.
My dad loved the outdoors and he spent as much time outside as he could. As kids he took us camping in the Gifford and if we weren’t camping we were hauling firewood. He loved the beach too, where he taught me it was best to be up at the crack of dawn to walk on the beach. That’s when the treasures could be found.
Roger became “Papa” in 1989 with grandson Donnie. In 1991 “Bugsy” was born followed by Hannah in 1996. In 2001, with my new marriage to Rod, we gave him three more grandkids. Victoria, Jason and Nick joined a growing list of grandkids. 2003 Caroline joined and followed up by Aidan, who was born to Sarah in 2005.
Nothing made him happier than spending time with his grandkids. Over the years the grandkids grew, married and added “great” grandkids! He never got to spend enough time with them but the times he did spend he loved every minute of it.
Many of you know that “Papa” was a warrior. He battled health problems since 2001 defying death on multiple occasions. He was a frequent visitor to the Veterans Hospital in Portland. There they treated him for various ailments all associated with the exposure to Agent Orange during his Military Service. He faced each battle with a fierce determination to survive and continued to stifle doctors until the end.
He was sent home in December of 2018 on Hospice. We all prepared for a quick passing as the doctors were sure he was going to be getting his angel wings within days. Well days turned into weeks, weeks into months. My mom remained by his side day in and day out until just weeks before he passed. She reluctantly placed him in the Oregon Veterans Home, this allowed her time to catch up on some much needed rest. During this time, he seemed to be doing well and he enjoyed the almost daily company he was receiving. We encouraged my mom to keep him there so we could visit more often and give her more time to catch up . He loved his room with a view of the Columbia River, the Dam and hills of Washington.
We celebrated his 77th birthday which we never expected. We were called to his bedside on May 15, 2019, as his health had taken a sudden turn. Family came together, told stories and shared more laughter. It was the closure he needed and he passed away peacefully the next morning.
Roger is survived by his loving wife Connie (Stillwell) Black, daughter Carmen (Rod) Knopes, of Goldendale and daughter Sarah (Mark) van Tinteren, Kent, grandchildren Ryan “Bugsy” Grigsby, Trout Lake, Hannah (Brandon) Walter, Goldendale, Donnie, Indiana, Victoria (Trevor) Keith, Goldendale, Jason (Christina) Knopes, Port Orchard, Nick, Kansas and Aidan Shafer, Kent and eight great-grandchildren. His 9th great grandchild will be born this coming September. Also surviving are little brother Boyce (Kathy) Black of White Salmon and little sister Darlisa Black of Trout Lake. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Sheldon and Dennis and his sister Nora.
We will forever miss him and grateful to have memories to reflect. We ask that you join us to Celebrate his Life on June 8, 2019, at 2 p.m. at the Trout Lake School. It is only fitting that this celebration will be followed by a potluck meal held in the cafeteria. Share your memories or favorite story!