With heavy hearts we announce the loss of our beloved father, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, and friend, Raymond “Ray” Louis Hiersche. Ray, 96, of Tillamook, Oregon, died of pneumonia on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in American Fork, Utah.
Ray was affectionately known as “Papa” to his dozens of grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. For all his achievements and talents, Papa may be most remembered for his gentle soul, warm heart, and soothing voice, which lulled fussing babies to sleep, entertained children, brought comfort to others, and made the world a better place.
Born May 16, 1923, in Portland, Oregon, to Katherine Elizabeth Heinrich and Louis Joseph Hiersche, Ray attended Joseph Lane Primary School, graduated from Franklin High School in 1941, became a certified welder and worked in the Portland shipyards. During the Second World War, Ray served in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific and Japan from 1943 to 1946.
In 1946, soon after he returned home from the war, Ray went out for drinks with a buddy at the Spanish Inn on Powell Boulevard in Portland. When his buddy got up from the bar to use the restroom, a cute redhead, Earmalee Trusty, approached and asked if the seat was taken. Ray invited her to sit down. Ray and Earmalee married four years later, after he finished college, on August 19, 1950. Together they raised four children. They were married for 53 years until Earmalee’s passing in 2002.
In 1950, Ray graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Oregon State University and took a job with the Bonneville Power Administration, where he worked until his retirement in 1976. From 1961 to 1963, he served a tour with the Department of the Interior in Milan, Italy. There he helped found the American Community School of Milan and served on the Board of Directors.
In the 1970s, Ray bought a Harley motorcycle and formed a friendly motorcycle gang with Jack Trusty and Bud Bailey called “The Bald Eagles,” a name that reflected their patriotism and lack of hair. After retirement, the Hiersches and Bud and June Neal purchased Kirk’s Cottages and Hillcrest Court in Oceanside, Oregon. Ray, who enjoyed construction and handyman projects, spent many summers working on the rental properties. In the 1980s, he built a home on the Trask River in Tillamook where he and Earmalee lived for several years.
Over his lifetime, Ray lived in Portland, Oregon; Milan, Italy; Tillamook, Oregon; Carson City, Nevada; and Pleasant Grove, Utah. He spent many winters in Mexico and many summers in Alaska. Ray was a member of the Tillamook Pioneer Association and Life Member of the Tillamook Elks Lodge. He toured the United States in a motorhome, drove the Alaska Highway, motorcycled down Baja California, and traveled extensively through Europe and Asia. He loved reading books and listening to big band music from the 1940s. Ray and Earmalee enjoyed dancing and are remembered for the comedy and musical acts they performed each year at the annual Trusty Family Reunion. Ray remained active until the end of his life, socializing at the Elks Lodge, fishing in Alaska, mowing his lawn, and caring for others.
Ray was preceded in death by his son Jerry Hiersche, brother Don Hiersche, wife Earmalee Hiersche, six Trusty brothers-in-law and three Trusty sisters-in-law. He is survived by his sister Dolores Heinz and brother-in-law Roy Heinz; sisters-in-law Jean Bailey and Joan Trusty; daughters Megan Ross, Katie Walther, and Robin Hiersche; 19 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren; and seven great-great-grandchildren.
A short memorial and the interment of ashes will be held at noon on Saturday, Nov. 30, at Sunset Heights Memorial Gardens, located at 7800 Trask River Road, Tillamook, Oregon. A Celebration of Life, including military honors and eulogy, will take place at 1 p.m. at the Tillamook Elks Lodge at 1907 Third Street. Lunch will be served.