Curtis E. Gaige, proud Army veteran, passed away at the age of 84. Preceded in death by his beloved parents, Preston and Julia; sister, Shirley; brother William “Bill”; wife, Barbara; uncle and aunt, Les and Virginia; his love of 40 years; Dorothy “Dottie” Kinney; nephew and nieces William “Sonny,” Mary and Cheryl “Sister.” He is survived by sons, Michael, Preston “Pete”, Frankie; daughter-in-law Alessandra; grandchildren, Billy, Jared, Lindsey, Nivea; great-grandchildren, Jude and Preston and numerous nieces and nephews.
On June 23, 1932, with a swift firm swat to the bottom, Curtis inhaled his first breath of sweltering Butterfield, MO., air. From a young age and ,along with older brother and younger sister, the Gaige kids and their hard-working parents took jobs doing whatever they could find, most times barely earning enough money to keep a roof overhead and bellies fed. After years of sporadic back-breaking work, part-time jobs and never knowing for sure if they would have food on the table, the Gaige family decided if they were to see the dream of a better and more prosperous life, the time had come to head for the milk and honey they had heard was waiting out west.
In 1944, the Gaige’s packed up their sun parched possessions and headed out in search of their dream. Stopping in Echo, Ore., able to find reasonably steady work, they stayed until jobs eventually dried up. Traveling a bit further west, and with immediate work available, the family settled in The Dalles, Ore.
Curtis and his father, Preston, found work loading grain, timber and, “yes,” cherries aboard barges at the old port Dalles loading docks. In 1950, on Curtis’ 18th birthday, he and his dad were working side-by-side loading a grain barge. With a strong unrelenting Gorge wind howling from the east, his father lost his footing on the swaying deck and fell 15 feet down the open loading shoot, striking his head on the bottom step of the rusty access ladder. Sadly, this spelled the end of the family patriarch as it was a fatal injury. Curtis’ father passed away while, tragically, Curtis held him in his arms.
So now as we lay to rest Curtis on his 85th birthday, June 23, 2017, it is knowing that Grandpa Preston has called him home to be with all our other passed family members, completing his circle of life. As Curtis would often jokingly say, “just throw me in a pine box and start shoveling son, I miss playing pinochle with my brother Bill”.
In retirement Curtis found great joy delivering “Meals on Wheels,” hiking back country roads collecting pop cans for Feed the Children and of course, playing pinochle, listening to live music at Dufur grange, shooting pool at local pubs and most of all traveling with Dottie to visit grandkids and his then daughter-in-law, Sue, and his son in Salem. Dad was a true pillar of the community and will be missed by all who knew him.
Curtis asked that donations be made to our local “Meals on Wheels” foregoing flowers. Caregivers Frankie and recently passed Cheryl “sister,” were provided support, and help by; Denis “Niecy,” Ashley, Dianne, Jason, Kari, all at “Meals on Wheels,” The Dalles Veterans’ Home, and friends; Pam, Rose, Bob and Jack. Thank you for your heroic caring, help and support with dad’s Alzheimer’s. “Sister” and I were blessed you all were looking out for him.
Curtis’ graveside military honors are at 2 p.m. June 23, 2017, at IOOF 3 Mile Cemetery. For all whom can’t make the weekday event, there will be a memorial at The Dalles Senior Center at 5 p.m. the same evening.
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