In the early hours of Monday, June 10 a single bugle stirred through the valley air—playing the gentle, nearly imperceptible strains of ‘taps.
Warren Dale McGuire came into this world on a mid-September morning in 1921. A Depression Era farm boy and the tenth of thirteen children, his life would not be without its challenges or its rewards. Early years in Kansas were spent tending farm animals, busting clods behind his father’s horse-drawn plow, and later guiding that same implement through hundreds of acres of farmland. It was in such a time and place as this that he grew to respect the value of hard work, honesty and family.
Dale excelled in football in high school and was recruited to play for Fort Scott Junior College. Likable and a competent student, he was also a fierce competitor and had immediate success both on and off the field. While as a youngster he had managed to escape the scourges of polio, smallpox, typhoid and the like, he would not survive his time at college without succumbing to a more compelling attraction—the woman who, within a year, would become his wife, Fran Ault—in his words, a good-looking sassy brunette.
The two were married on the 5th of September 1941. Three days later they set off on a 1500 mile, five day journey to Cottage Grove, riding in the back of a small trailer, to a place they had never seen. They arrived in Oregon with just 6 cents to their names, but with high hopes for a brighter future. Three and a half months later, however, Pearl Harbor would transform their lives.
Dale enlisted in the Marine Corps and was in the first wave to hit the beaches of Okinawa. Sixty days later he was badly wounded when a misdirected naval phosphorous round landed on his position. Miraculously he survived and spent the rest of the war—and then some—11 months in all—in burn treatment centers.
The seventy-four years which followed Okinawa were a gift. A Glorious Gift. That he had survived the blast, let alone the ordeal which followed, had been something well beyond luck.
Home once again, Dale began where he had left off, working in the timber industry— for Woodard Lumber and Weyerhaeuser as a millwright, and later at Kimwood Machine as a Production Supervisor. During those years he helped to guide the paths of his children, and later his grandchildren—threw a line into whatever stream rolled by his window—hunted when the opportunity arose—delighted in Oregon sports, and visited often with siblings and family who were strung out from Kansas to the Pacific. After retirement he became a veritable master of the vegetable garden, always quick to share his bounty with friends and neighbors.
It serves as no small comment on his nature that, together with his wife, he devised a plan which, along with the couple’s adult children, provided Christmas—not for each other—but for strangers—area children and their less fortunate families. Of the success of this endeavor, he could not have been more pleased.
Though he is gone now, in my mind’s eye, I can still see him—when the evening light hangs low, sparkling through the Norway maple—having watered his garden and mowed his lawn—relaxing with my mother on their patio, sipping iced tea, chatting, and considering what wonderful things tomorrow might bring. May he find the peace he deserves. As for those who remain, we have been fortunate that he has walked beside us, taken our hand and touched our lives.
Dale is survived by Fran McGuire, his wife of 77 years (Cottage Grove)— four children; Warren McGuire, Jr. (and Betty of Cottage Grove), Dean McGuire (and Vivian of Eugene), Diana Bell (and Steve of Cottage Grove), and Judy Roberts (and Scot of Sherwood)—and also 11 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild.
He was preceded in death by all 12 of his siblings and an infant daughter, Sharon Kay.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 11:00 AM at Smith-Lund-Mills Funeral Chapel, Cottage Grove, OR. An Inurnment following at Fir Grove Cemetery, Cottage Grove, OR with military honors.