Orville “Keith” Stiff, a long-time resident of Cottage Grove, Oregon who resided in Springfield for the last four years, died on June 24 at the age of 90.
He was born in Boise, Ada County, Idaho to Roland Bertrand and Ellen E. Patton Stiff on 20 February 1929. He lived in the Boise, Idaho area until the family moved to Oregon in 1943. His family had deep roots in Idaho and he was proud of his maternal and paternal grandparents’ pioneering spirit. He had fond memories of living on the Stiff Homestead in the Dry Creek area north of Boise and of spending a lot of time south of Marsing at the Patton Homestead. At an early age, his father Bert taught him how to fish and hunt. He helped his father pack in supplies for the Forest Service up to Yellow Pine, Idaho in the summer. Keith loved that area of Idaho and later in life Yellow Pine became his home away from home. He spent almost 20 years as Master of Ceremonies for the Yellow Pine Harmonica Festival and enjoyed jamming with the other musicians while playing his washtub.
Keith was a natural-born storyteller and was the narrator during the last several years for The Blue Goose, an excursion train in Cottage Grove. He entertained thousands of guests with stories about historical sites along the tracks up to Culp Creek and back. He loved to reminisce about this time and after retiring he traveled all over the United States and Canada to ride narrow gauge and other steam excursion trains.
Keith was a lumberman. His first experience in a mill was before he graduated from high school, when he took a job at the Chambers Mill in Lorane to help support his family. He spent his entire working life in mills with the exception of setting pins in bowling alleys in Boise and Cottage Grove, and as a surveyor helper during the construction of Dorena Dam. Lumbering was natural for Keith and in the 1950s he became part-owner of Cottage Grove Lumber Company. He later worked for Leo Rickard at Rickini Lumber in Saginaw, then for Bohemia, Inc. as Yard Superintendent until he retired.
Keith was an avid sportsman playing football and baseball in high school, even playing a short time with the Drain Black Socks. It was not unusual to see him with two TV’s and a radio by his easy-chair, as he kept up with different games simultaneously. He loved to bowl and was on the Master’s team in Eugene. He also served on the Eugene Men’s Bowling Association as a board member and president. He was an outdoorsman who had a passion for rockhounding as well. Many family vacations were geared around the best rock hunting locations. He passed this hobby on to his children and grandchildren.
On 28 August 1948, he married Evelyn “Joy” Imel in Cottage Grove. They were married for 66 years before her passing on 19 January 2015. Keith met Joy at Lorane High School, where they both graduated in 1948. They raised five children: daughter, Kay (Conley) Phillips of Cottage Grove; daughter, Rhonda (Robert Kerrison) Whetham of Fisher, ACT, Australia; son, Dan (Umi) Stiff of Tempur, Jawa Timar, Indonesia; daughter, Debra (Tom) Monsive of Cottage Grove; and daughter, Toni (Bruce) Bevard of Eugene. Keith is also survived by 10 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandsons. He is also survived by his sister, Nita Bachelder of Springfield.
A graveside service was held at 10:00 am on, Saturday, June 29th, at Fir Grove Cemetery in Cottage Grove. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association. Arrangements are in the care of Smith-Lund-Mills Funeral Chapel in Cottage Grove.