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R. L. "Rick" Ensminger

R. L. “Rick” Ensminger

March 19, 1943 - June 28, 2017

Rick was born in Colorado Springs, Colo., where his parents had worked packing their horses into the mountains and Pikes Peak. In the winter, they moved their horses by train to Tucson, Ariz. Soon after, the family moved to Fresno, Calif., where they stayed and Rick graduated from Fresno High School in 1961.

In 1966, he saw an ad for work at Mt. Adams Orchards in White Salmon, Wash. He brought his family, worked for two years and liked the agriculture career. After he divorced, Rick moved to Colorado where he got his CDL for long haul trucking in the United States. In 1969, he met Jody Benjamin. They were married in August 1970 and moved directly to Underwood, Wash., where he was employed by Triple A Orchards.

He then went to work for SDS Lumber Company as a log truck driver, where he worked for five years. He felt, though, he had a calling for and loved the farming business, and he began his 40-year career managing Celilo Vineyards and Underwood Orchards, where he and Jody remained living and working until he retired in December 2015.

Rick also had Ensminger Trucking which he started in 1980, hauling pears and cherries to Underwood Fruit and wine grapes to several wineries in Washington and Oregon. His passion was quality wine grapes grown on Underwood mountain. He was passionate about so many things, like football. He enjoyed fantasy football, traveling to Mexico, RV-ing with friends around the west, and going to Alaska with friends fishing, stating “to get food for the family.” Elk hunting with his sons and friends was important to him. Rick and Jody spent the winters in Yuma, Ariz., for the last 18 years.

He was a member of Elks Lodge 1868 and past Exalted Ruler 1983-1984.

He is survived by his wife Jody of 47 years; sons, Eron (Shelly) of Washougal and Ryan of Aberdeen; daughters, Leslie (Kat) of Fresno and Julie (Rod) of Fresno; sister Barbara (Al) of Fresno; brothers, Chuck (Wendy) of Colorado Springs, Rob (Cathy) of Colorado Springs, and Jim (Regina) of Colorado Springs. He is preceded in death by his brother Don.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Skyline Hospital and Providence Hospice of the Gorge for their excellent care.

Rick was laid to rest at Chris Zada Cemetery in Underwood on July 8. A memorial service will be held at the White Salmon Elks Lodge on July 22 at 1 p.m. Please send condolences to the Ensminger family by visiting


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