Walter C. Deinhardt
Walt was born in 1926 in Newport, Washington. His parents, Walter Deinhardt and Claudia Jackson Deinhardt separated when he was young. He was raised by his dad, who taught him the importance of hard work and the value of his word. While the depression was hard on them, Walt always had fond memories of this time. He and his father hunted, fished, and grew a large vegetable garden. They shared this bounty with their neighbors. The lessons he learned stayed with him his entire life.
At 14, he had his first employment, a summer job on a farm working for $10 a month plus room and board. At 16,
he was employed full time while still going to school. His pay increased to a dollar a day. He never forgot the value of that dollar.
At 17, he decided to forego his senior year in high school and joined the Navy. After a year of training, he was assigned to the engine room of LCI #368, a small ship that transported fighting troops to the islands in the Pacific. He was involved in the invasions of Eniwetok, the Philippines, and Okinawa. Walt would recall that while he was never scared, he was apprehensive at times. He was also saddened that many of the men he delivered to the beaches never returned home.
At his discharge, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He spent the next year at Bremerton Naval Hospital before being transferred to the VA hospital in Walla Walla. As he recovered, he was allowed evening passes, and one night in May 1947, he spied Emma Elia across the dance floor at Prospect Point. Five months later they were married and enjoyed 69 years together.
They stayed in Walla Walla for three years, where son Steve was born in 1950. Walt was then hired by the Army
Corps of Engineers and sent to the dams on the Columbia River where he trained as a powerhouse operator. He worked at both McNary and Bonneville Dams. He was at Bonneville in 1953 when daughter Kathy was born.
In 1954, he transferred to Albeni Falls Dam on the Pend Oreille River near his hometown of Newport. He bought a
10 acre farm, planted a large garden, raised chickens, cows, rabbits, and pigs and took great care of his family. Son
Mark was born in 1960 and soon the family outgrew the old farmhouse. In 1962, he moved the family to Priest River where he remained until his retirement from the Corps.
In March 1982, he went to work on the Carmen Smith Project, a dam on the McKenzie River in Oregon. He often said this was his favorite job as he not only worked in the powerhouse but also worked outside taking care of three reservoirs, the powerhouse grounds and garden, 15 miles of roads, and a Chinook salmon spawning facility. It was a fitting way to end his career.
In 1989, Walt retired for good and he and Emma bought a home at the Senior Estates in Woodburn, Oregon. They
made good friends during their 22 years there. They played golf, organized pinochle parties, traveled and cruised their way through retirement. Walt took part in Senior Estates activities and served on the building review committee for many years. He was also involved in the Mount Angel Lions Club and served as an officer of the Woodburn Chapter of NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees). He maintained an immaculate yard and found enough space to continue the gardening that he loved.
Walt always said "I've been lucky all my life." His family, in turn, believes we were incredibly fortunate to have had this kind, hardworking but easygoing father and grandfather to guide us with his steady, loving hand. No one could have asked for a better dad or grandpa.
Walt was preceded in death by his beloved wife Emma who died in 2017; he missed her every day. His parents and
two sisters, Joan and Norma, also passed before him.
He is survived his children, Steve, Kathy (Bob Hill), and Mark (Pam); his grandchildren, Cori Neser, Angie (Chris)
Bloom, Laura Ertz, Cara (Rob) Dement, and Ryan Deinhardt;his great-grandchildren, Nick and Marissa Neser, Emma and Alex Bloom, Morgan, Riley, and Karsyn Dement, and Jerin Deinhardt; numerous nieces and nephews; half-sister Memory Pingre, and sister-in-law Elveda Elia.
Walt will be honored June 14, 2019, at 3 p.m. with a memorial ceremony at Dry Creek Cemetery, Boise, under the direction of Summers Funeral Home.