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James "Jim" Allen Church

James “Jim” Allen Church

Portland, Oregon

November 5, 1939 - October 16, 2018

James (Jim) Allen Church, former owner of the Columbia Gorge Insurance Agency, died October 16, 2018, at his St. Johns (Portland, Ore.) home, of natural causes. He was born November 5, 1939, to Norman and Ruby Church in Foster, Okla.

He attended Bakersfield College, Calif., becoming editor of the school paper, transferring to CSU Fresno, Calif., where he won the 1963 third place prize in the William Randolph Hearst national writing award. After two years in the U.S. Army, stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., he worked for the Associated Press in Portland, San Francisco, Calif., Salt Lake City, Utah, and as AP bureau chief in Jefferson City, Mo., and Salem, Ore.

Jim interviewed many famous people, among them: President Jimmy Carter, Willy Mays, Cesar Chavez and Muhammad Ali.

Retiring from AP he was an editor for Crittenden Publishing in Novato, Calif.

Returning to Oregon he owned and operated two Shell stations in Salem and Silverton, Ore., and from 2001 to 2008, the Columbia Gorge Insurance Agency, now known as Insurance by the Woods in The Dalles. He volunteered several years at the Ft. Vancouver Regional Library, selling used books and trying to resist buying more for his collection. At his death he owned 1200 books, mostly on European and U.S. history.

He married Sheilah Toomey of Portland in 1967. They divorced in 1980. Jim and his backpacking buddy hiked 15 long-distance trails in California, Nevada and Oregon but nothing gave him more joy than family.

Together he and Sheilah raised son, Gavin Church (Toni); daughter, Nora Church Bridges (Walter). He also leaves sisters, Elo Gregory and Karen Torres, (Bakersfield, Calif.); brothers, Roy (Penn Valley, Calif.) and Rick, (Kent, Wash.); three grandchildren; and many nephews and nieces.

A memorial service was held in Portland on October 28, 2018.

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