On May 30, 2015, while Gary and friends were scouting elk habitat he suffered traumatic injuries as a result of an ATV accident. While his death was tragic and unexpected his family and friends take solace that he spent his last day exploring the mountains that he loved.
Gary’s love for The Dalles community can be seen through the numerous projects that he undertook while living here. The Dalles Murals were important for Gary as well as the building of the Transportation Center which was a joy for him to work on. In an attempt to make our community even better he orchestrated The Dalles Trade Association. But none the less his passion was with The Dalles Kiwanis program in which he served child after child in our community. Among the many honors he received over the years he was also named Man of the Year and Volunteer of the Year by The Dalles Chamber of Commerce. These are just a few of the accomplishments of this outstanding man. He served on a number of committees and boards including The Dalles Education Foundation Board. If he was asked to help you knew it would be done. To this day Gary houses the Santa float, the Kiwanis parade train, the flags that fly throughout our community every holiday, the Cherry Sweetheart float (now retired).
Gary was born on July 18, 1935 and grew up in Arlington, Oregon. December of 1954 he married Barbara the love of his life. Gary and Barbara spent close to 60 years together. During the early years of their marriage Gary was enlisted in the Army during the Berlin Crisis which allowed the couple to live in Germany. Returning to The Dalles Gary worked as a painter for The Dalles and Ice Harbor Dams later following in his father’s footsteps continued with Honald’s Signs now known as Meadows Outdoor Signs. He once operated Honald Crane which is now owned by his son, Mike.
Gary was President for a number of years of The Dalles Trade Center Association, a group of businessmen and women who promoted The Dalles. Among their projects were Christmas decorations, which involved refurbishing, buying and hanging the decorations, with contributions from local businesses and help from the Telephone Company, PUD and the local cable television company. The Association also started the annual Starlight Parade which continues on each year to bring in the Christmas season. Gary and Barbara have continued to offer rides to the young and old on their sleigh.
Gary was an incredibly big force behind building the Transportation Center building downtown, and he helped promote re-vitalizing the Granada Theater. He was a prime member of the group who led efforts to re-furbish the Granada and bring entertainers to the historic theater. The Trade Center group took on an urban blight problem by leading the project at 3rd and Webber Streets to clean up the unsightly island. Gary and others engaged help from Meadow Outdoor Sign Company, the Army Corps of Engineers, the State, County and City road departments, Russ Brown and Nelson Tire. It remains attractive to this day.
Gary and Barbara always wanted the downtown to look attractive, and they were a huge force behind the Mural Society to promote the history of The Dalles community. Gary was a huge promoter of the period street lights, benches and landscaping that are visible today.
Gary was incredibly generous with his time and his money, and for decades he championed dozens of community activities and projects that improved The Dalles. Whenever people or organizations asked for help or donations, Gary volunteered and donated. A fellow Kiwanian dubbed him: “The Nicest Man in The Dalles,” and made him Kiwanis business cards with the slogan.
As an inside joke, a billboard on West Second Street advertising The Dalles Kiwanis Club, recently displayed that slogan. While the statement was made in jest, reflecting on his life, “The Nicest Man in The Dalles” title rings true.
Gary is survived by his wife Barbara, son and daughter in law Michael and Dena Honald, grandson, Spencer, his daughter Pandi Hart and two grandchildren, Trent and Karissa. His sister, Helen Elsmore and his cousin Don Anderson. In addition to numerous nephews and nieces.
A funeral service was held Saturday, June 6, 2015, 1 p.m. at the LDS church in The Dalles. Arrangements by Spencer Libby and Powell, The Dalles, OR 97058. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Gary Honald Santa Fund, The Dalles Kiwanis, PO Box 604, The Dalles, OR 97058.
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