Richard Thies passed away on September 13, 2019, at Providence St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, Oregon, with family at his side. He was 95.
Richard was born on April 22, 1924, in Spring Valley, Arkansas, to Amil and Pearl May Thies. He was the youngest of eight boys in a family of twelve children. His family moved to Cottage Grove, Oregon, when he was two years old where he attended school and worked in his father’s mechanic shop.
During his Sophomore year in high school, Vangie Condos moved to Cottage Grove, and she soon became the love of his life. They were married on August 15, 1942, and moved to Paulina, Oregon, where Richard was a ranch hand on a cattle ranch until he was drafted in 1943. He served as a private first class in the Ninth Army landing in Scotland, and from 1943 to 1945, his division moved throughout the European Theater through England, then into France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany until he was honorably discharged at the end of World War II.
Upon his return, he and Vangie resided in Cottage Grove where they raised three children, Harold, Cheron, and Ron. Richard worked as a mechanic as well as being a logger with his brother, Raymond. Eventually he opened Thies Richfield Service Station on Highway 99. Besides his busy life as a mechanic, Richard sponsored and built race cars for drivers Vern Coop and Bob Hamilton, so Saturday nights during the summer were spent at the Cottage Grove Speedway where Thies cars won many trophies.
He still made time for other recreation and enjoyed golfing and bowling. Richard would later continue his bowling activities with the Joseph Fire Department team after the move to Enterprise.
Richard and Vangie often traveled to the Wallowa Mountains to hunt for deer and elk and just to have fun. Such wonderful occasions caused them to decide to move to Enterprise. So, during a 1972 New Year’s Day snowstorm, they moved to Enterprise. Richard bought the ARCO service station on River Street which he and his sons operated from 1972 to 1978. He was forced to close the station when the infamous gas shortage shut down the bulk gas plants that were his suppliers. Richard then went to work for Moffit Ford as shop foreman until 1983. Part of his job was to maintain and transport Milo Moffit’s “Western Fleet” vehicles in Arizona; a task in which Vangie participated and they enjoyed together…especially the beautiful scenery of Arizona.
In 1981, their son, Ron, opened Thies Shell Station; two years later, in 1983 Richard partnered with him and worked there until 1986 when he retired - on the very day of his 62nd birthday. He then set out to prove, in “Richard fashion,” that he and Vangie could live on social security.
After his retirement he and Vangie fully enjoyed their avocations. Together, they demonstrated their artisan talents and made a host of delightful wooden gifts for friends and family. Richard cut them out, and Vangie brought them to life with her painting talent. They loved hunting season, both for the hunting themselves and for the hunters who came to enjoy their immeasurable hospitality. They traveled to other states to see the sights often accompanied by their grandsons, Rick and Rock. They also journeyed afar to Belgium and Greece on two occasions, to visit Vangie’s Greek relatives.
Richard loved the outdoors, especially fishing in the ocean, rivers, lakes, ponds, ditches, and on Ron Jett’s dock on Wallowa Lake....with his children, grandchildren, or friends, and often by himself. He made many trips each summer to Ron’s camp and his beloved wooded wilderness, driving his old Toyota pickup and bringing back ½ cords of firewood to stack by his fence for the winter.
He was a man of varied interests and frequently attended musical plays at the historic Elgin Opera House in Elgin, Oregon, and numerous country western performances at the, also historic, OK Theater in Enterprise.
“Poppy” was a unique, greatly loved, and highly respected patriarch of his family. He will be missed by his family, as well as by his friends and acquaintances. His “mark” may be best described in the Nat King Cole song from his era – “Unforgettable.”
Richard was preceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Vangie; his parents, Amil and Pearl May; his brothers, Ralph, Paul, Lawrence, Floyd, Raymond, Byron, and Donald; and his sisters, Gladys, Martha, and Elva. He is survived by his sister, Rose Mary Hibbard of Cottage Grove; two sons, Harold Thies (Paula) of Central Point, Oregon, and Ron Thies (Leslie) of Enterprise, Oregon; his daughter, Cheron Taylor (Tony) of Junction City, Oregon; six grandchildren, Alicia Eilenberger, Nyssa Thies, Trina Corno, Jeff Taylor, Rick Thies, and Rock Thies; thirteen great-grandchildren, Tyler, Marissa, Ashley, Autumn, Ashton, Aiden, Taylor, Jack, Carter, Adiana, Milly, Alesha, and Flynn; one great, great grandson, Karter; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A private graveside service was held by his family at Wallowa Cemetery in Wallowa, Oregon, on September 21, 2019. A military service will be held next spring, March 21, 2020, at 11 a.m. at Wallowa Cemetery to be followed by a celebration of life for Richard and Vangie at 1 p.m. at the VFW hall in Enterprise. In Poppy’s memory, please live your day to the fullest.