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Norman Wesley Hyder

September 29, 1918 - March 11, 2014-


Norman HyderFormer Madras resident Norman Wesley Hyder, 95, who founded the Gourmet Foods potato processing plant in Metolius, passed away March 11, 2014, at his home in Tygh Valley.

At his request, no services will be held.

Born Sept. 29, 1918, in Tennessee, to parents Abraham Lincoln Hyder and Minerva Bell (Fields) Hyder, he grew up on a farm near Buell, Idaho. He joined the National Guard at age 16. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, earning his tuition by working as a J.C. Penney shoe salesman.

When World War II started, Norm trained in flight school and was accepted into the Army Air Corps. Promoted to second lieutenant, he then took training to fly the B-25, twin-engine, fighter bomber. In California, the first plane he was assigned had a mechanical problem, which caused an explosion. He had to make a crash landing, but the crew escaped uninjured.

With a new plane, they flew to Australia, then New Guinea, where he was part of the 499th Bombardment Squadron supporting General MacArthur’s campaign to drive the Japanese out of the area. He flew 51 bombing missions in New Guinea and earned the rank of captain.

After returning to the U.S. briefly, he was promoted to major and volunteered go to the India-Burma Theater, where he flew another 42 missions before the war ended.

After the war, Norm bought 40 acres in Metolius, and went into the warehouse business with his brother and another partner, who they bought out. From that start, he build up the company that became Gourmet Food Products, with French fry manufacturing plants in Metolius and Boardman. In 1978, he sold the company, and in 1980 bought land in California, where he lived for 20 years until moving to Tygh Valley to be closer to family and to enjoy hunting and fishing.

Throughout his life, until age 80, Norm continued to fly, first in a Cessna Tripacer, and then in a Beechcraft Bonanza.

He is survived by son, Wren Hyder of Boardman; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by son, Robin Hyder.