Jack Merlin Fosmark, 87, of Salem, Oregon, died on July 2, 2019, of age-related causes at Salem Hospital. Jack was born at home in Canby, Oregon on November 3, 1931, to Johan Andrew “Andy” and Grace Ivy Fosmark. He was preceded in death by his older brothers, Robert “Bob” and Lyle, along with his brother Andrew, who died in infancy.
Jack grew up in Canby until he was 11 years old and the family moved to Tillamook, where his father, Andy, worked as a watch maker. At the age of 13, he started delivering newspapers during the summer months, and later worked a job delivering milk.
Jack attended Tillamook High School and later enrolled in the U.S. Air Force in 1951. His military service included radio operator training in Biloxi, MS, and a deployment to Japan from 1952-1954. After returning to Tillamook, he married Doris “Dodie” Lorraine King in 1956 and was later recruited to join the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a Radio Intercept Operator.
At the start of his CIA career, Jack and Dodie traveled together from Tillamook to begin his first tour in Nicosia, Cyprus. They had two children, Tim Andrew and Cheryl “Sherry” Lynn, both who were born overseas during his tenure at the CIA. Jack’s career took the family to multiple international locations for two decades, including: Manila, Philippines; Baghdad, Iraq; Bangkok, Thailand; Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Asmara, Ethiopia; and London, England.
The family returned to the U.S. in 1974 and lived in Virginia, before moving back to Tillamook. Jack and Dodie divorced in 1975, and he retired from the CIA in 1978 and moved to Seaside, Oregon. While in Seaside, he worked as a type setter at the Seaside Signal from 1979-1981, and wrote a column called Years Ago: Looking Back at Old Seaside. He also served as a volunteer and contributor to the newspaper until 1991, and began to pursue his interest in family genealogy and Oregon history, including the origination of northern coastal towns and Native American tribes. During this tenure at the paper, Jack received the Award of Merit for Best Local Column, Weekly from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.
It was in Seaside that Jack met Lee Strumme, who he would later marry in 2002 in a backyard ceremony at their home in Salem, where he had moved in 1994. Together, Jack and Lee created an oasis in their backyard with custom bird houses, a large vegetable garden and a beautiful koi pond. They often hosted friends and family for gatherings and a daily “happy hour” at their home during their 17 wonderful years of marriage.
An avid bird watcher and outdoorsman, Jack also spent hours fishing the Trask and Wilson Rivers in Tillamook County. He also had an interest and talent for wood carving, a hobby he spent several decades perfecting. His family is grateful they will be able to enjoy his wood creations for many years to come.
Jack had a passion for writing for most of his life, and you would often find him researching and compiling historical stories on his home office computer. A proud descendant of settlers who traveled the Oregon Trail, Jack’s maternal grandmother, Kate, was only two years old when she arrived in Aurora in her mother’s arms with the 1863 wagon train. His interest in family history led to a longtime partnership with the Aurora Colony Museum, and if you visit the museum today, you will find a tribute to Jack’s donations of family artifacts and his years of hard work and dedication to historical research.
Jack is survived by his devoted wife, Lee Fosmark of Salem, Oregon; his son, Tim Andrew Fosmark (Andrea) of Eugene; his daughter, Cheryl “Sherry” Lynn Vick (Keith) of Hemlock; his stepdaughters, Amy Snook of Seaside (Ryan) and Terri Adam (Gary) of Portland; along with his granddaughter, Avery Fosmark and four step grandchildren: Michael, Alissa and Holly Snook and Tony Nelson; and, his step great-granddaughter Bella Lee.
Jack’s family will attend a small graveside service at Zion Memorial Park Cemetery in Canby, Oregon on July 9th. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Jack’s name to the Old Aurora Colony Museum; PO Box 202; Aurora, OR 97002 or at www.auroracolony.org.
No funeral. A graveside gathering of close family members will occur Tuesday, July 9th at Zion Memorial Park Cemetery in Canby, Oregon