James O. MCClain, Jim peacefully passed away on January 28, 2022 at Providence Brookside Manor of Hood River, Oregon. Jim was born August 16, 1928 and was 93 years of age at the time of his passing.
Jim was born in Cove, Oregon to James Theodore and Viola Mae (Loree) McClain. He has been a long time resident of the Hood River Valley. Jim grew up in Cove with his older brother, Ace and younger sisters, Virginia and Marjorie. In 1936 the family moved to Central Vale in Hood River County. In Central Vale, they lived in a small home on a fruit orchard where his father worked as a field hand. In the late 1930’s the family moved to a Highway 35 property near Hanel’s Mill in the community of Mt. Hood. His father grew a small orchard on the property and began a logging career at that time. A younger brother, Teddy joined the family in 1939, but he passed in a tragic train accident in 1940. The youngest sister, Carol joined the family in 1943.
In 1944-1945, Jim’s parents sent the children to live with his grandmother McClain back in Cove, while they worked in Portland building “Liberty Ships” for the war effort. After the war ended, they all moved home to the Mount Hood area. Jim started high school while in Cove and graduated valedictorian at Parkdale High School in 1946.
Jim married his high school sweetheart, Virginia Rose at the Parkdale Presbyterian Church on July 23, 1949 – together they raised three children and in 2019, they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Virginia passed away March 14, 2020.
He worked early on at the Parkdale Gas Station, but eventually found his way back to the woods: falling timber and logging. Timber falling, logging and contracting became his lifelong career. He was very happy being in the woods every day working, hunting or fishing. Jim hunted; deer, elk, antelope, grouse and chukar and he fished anything that swims, but especially trout and steelhead.
In his youth while in school he played baseball and basketball and he continued as an adult playing on town teams until the 1960’s when his kids started playing and he coached little league and Babe Ruth baseball. He enjoyed bowling and participated with several teams until in his late 80’s. He also took up golf in his later years.
He was a prolific crossword puzzle guy. He subscribed to the Oregonian to get the news but mostly to get the daily crossword puzzle. He had quite the library of dictionaries and reference books to aid him in this quest.
Jim was a member of The Parkdale Lions Club and loved to attend the “Lions Follies” every spring and did everything he could to support their cause including cooking and serving breakfast in Parkdale once a month. He was also a long-time member of the Parkdale Volunteer Fire Department; he felt it was his duty to support the community. He spent many a late night at the Fire Hall playing pinochle into the wee hours with other members and spouses.
Jim is survived by; daughter, Diana (and husband, Larry) Hitchcock of Milwaukie, Oregon; son, Mick (and wife, Virginia) McClain of The Dalles, Oregon; son-in-law, Rocky Rice of Hood River, Oregon; eight grandchildren, Darci, Rod, Becky, Michelle, Chris, Joshua, Sara and Elizabeth; and seven great grandchildren, Emily, Garrett, James, Jordan, Rose, Ryleigh and Cayden.
He was preceded in death by; his wife, Virginia; sisters, Virginia Schrock in 2020, Margie Fitzgerald and Carol Holbert; brothers, Teddy and Ace; daughter, Kathy Rice; and grandson, Jeffrey Rice.
A very special thank you to Brookside Manor’s staff of angels and Providence Hospice of the Gorge for their care of Jim.
Arrangements are under the direction of Anderson's Tribute Center (Funerals • Receptions • Cremations) 1401 Belmont Avenue, Hood River, Oregon 97031.
Visit www.AndersonsTributeCenter.com to leave a note of condolence for the family.
ADDITIONAL LIFE STORY
HE BEGAN HIS LOGGING CAREER WITH HIS GRANDDAD LOREE. GRANDDAD HAD AN OLD MODEL-A FORD, FLAT BED TRUCK. HE WOULD SEND JIM AHEAD BAREBACK ON HIS OLD DRAFT HORSE TO RIDE 10 MILES UP INTO THE MOUNTAINS EAST OF COVE. GRANDDAD WOULD FOLLOW WITH THE TRUCK, WHERE THEY WOULD CUT FIREWOOD TO SELL IN TOWN. THEY USED THE DRAFT HORSE TO YARD THE LOGS TO THE ROAD. CUT THE FIREWOOD WITH CROSS CUT SAWS (THERE WERE NO SUCH THINGS AS CHAINSAWS IN THE 1930’S). LOAD THE TRUCK AS FULL AS THEY COULD AND CHAIN AN EXTRA LOG OR TWO BEHIND THE TRUCK TO DRAG TO THE BOTTOM OF THE MOUNTAIN. THE BRAKES ON THE MODEL-A TRUCK WERE NOT TOO GOOD, SO THE LOGS HELPED TO SLOW DOWN THE DECENT TO THE BOTTOM. ONCE THEY REACHED THE BOTTOM, THEY WOULD ROLL THE LOGS OFF TO THE SIDE AND CONTINUE ON INTO TOWN WITH THE LOAD. AFTER A FEW TRIPS THEY HAD A FULL LOAD OF WOOD…. AT THE BOTTOM OF THE MOUNTAIN! NO EFFORT WENT TO WASTE. OF COURSE, JIM GOT TO RIDE THE DRAFT HORSE BACK DOWN THE HILL AT THE END OF THE DAY. 20 MILES BAREBACK ON A GIANT HORSE, SOUNDS LIKE A FUN DAY FOR A 12 YR. OLD.
WHEN HE WAS 15 YRS.’ OLD, AFTER SCHOOL JIM WOULD GO FIND HIS FATHER WHO WAS FALLING TIMBER IN THE HOOD RIVER VALLEY FORESTS. JIM BUCKED LOGS WITH A ONE-MAN BUCKING SAW THAT HIS FATHER HAD JUST FELL. IN THOSE DAYS, IF THE TREE WASN’T OVER 24”, IT WASN’T CONSIDERED WORTH CUTTING DOWN, SO MOST OF THE FELLED TREES WERE 3-5 FEET IN DIAMETER. A BIT OF WORK TO SAW THROUGH. ON WEEKENDS HE WOULD GO OUT WITH HIS DAD AND THEY WOULD FALL TIMBER WITH CROSSCUT TWO MAN SAWS AND DOUBLE BITTED AXES. THEY USED SPRINGBOARDS TO GET ABOVE THE ROOT SWELL FOR THEIR WORK. HIS DAD SWUNG HIS AXE RIGHT-HANDED, SO JIM HAD TO LEARN TO SWING HIS AXE LEFT HANDED. (THIS IS WHY HE BATTED IN BASEBALL AND GOLFED LEFT-HANDED. IT JUST FELT RIGHT FOR HIM.)
HE WOULD SAY “THERE’S OLD LOGGERS AND THERE’S BOLD LOGGERS, BUT THERE ARE NO OLD, BOLD LOGGERS,….YOU GOTTA BE CAREFUL”
HE ALSO SAID A FEW TIMES THAT HE HAD THE PERFECT QUALIFICATIONS FOR BEING A LOGGER,….. A STRONG BACK AND A WEAK MIND! (HE WAS ONLY PARTLY CORRECT ON THAT ONE.
HE TOLD A PROSPECTIVE TIMBER CUTTER ONCE, YOU JUST GOTTA UNDERSTAND GRAVITY,… AND BE SMARTER THAN THE STUMP! I GUESS AFTER YOU GET CHASED BY ENOUGH BEES AND BEARS AND WIDOW-MAKERS, YOU LEARN A THING OR TWO.
JIM BEGAN HUNTING DUCKS AND GEESE AS A BOY, WITH HIS GRANDAD LOREE IN THE LADD MARSH AREA OF THE GRAND RONDE VALLEY NEAR COVE. THEY FED THEIR FAMILY WITH MANY WATERFOWL DURING THE DEPRESSION. HE STILL HAS THAT RICKETY OLD DOUBLE BARREL SHOTGUN THEY USED TO HARVEST GEESE, THOSE MANY DECADES AGO.
WHEN JIM WAS 12 HE BEGAN DEER HUNTING WITH HIS DAD AND GRAND FATHER. HIS FIRST TIME OUT HE SHOT AND EMPTIED HIS 30-30 RIFLE SO MANY TIMES, THEY HAD TO GO BACK TO TOWN AND BUY MORE BULLETS. HE EVENTUALLY LEARNED TO BE A VERY ACCOMPLISHED RIFLE SHOT. HE TOOK OVER 40 ELK IN HIS HUNTING DAYS AND MANY MORE BUCK DEER AND ANTELOPE. HIS BIGGEST ELK WAS A GRAND 6X6 THAT MEASURED 54” WIDE, AND 53” AND 54” ON THE BEAMS. HIS UNCLE MERTON LOREE BEGGED HIM TO LET HIM PUT THE ANTLERS ABOVE THE FIREPLACE AT THE MINAM LODGE, HUNTING CAMP. THE ANTLERS WERE TOO BIG TO PUT IN ANY NORMAL SIZE HOUSE, SO HE LET UNCLE MERTON HAVE THEM.
ONE OF JIMS STORIES ABOUT HIS GRANDAD LOREE WAS ABOUT A BIG 6X6 ELK HE KILLED ONE FALL. HE BROUGHT IT DOWN TO TOWN ON THE BACK OF HIS MODEL-A FLATBED TRUCK, AND PARADED UP AND DOWN THE STREET SO EVERYBODY IN TOWN GOT TO COME OUT AND OOOH AND AAAH AND HIS TROPHY. THE NEXT YEAR (AND MAYBE MORE?). HE SHOT A COW ELK, TOOK THE 6X6 HORNS UP TO THE HILLS, BLOODIED THEM UP A BIT TO MAKE THEM LOOK FRESH, AND PARADED DOWN THROUGH TOWN AGAIN! IT WAS 1930-SOMETHING AND IN TOUGH TIMES, SO THE LAW PROBABLY LOOKED THE OTHER WAY. NOT TO MENTION IT WAS COVE, OREGON. YOU MIGHT EVEN GET AWAY WITH IT THERE TODAY.
HE LOOKED FORWARD TO DEER & ELK HUNTING EVERY FALL. IT WAS ALWAYS FUN TO CAMP & HUNT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY REGARDLESS OF THE WEATHER. SNOW, RAIN OR SHINE, IT WAS ALL GOOD. HE ENJOYED THE OUTDOORS AND NATURE AS GOD HAD INTENDED. THE FORESTS AND MEADOWS AMONGST THE RIVERS AND CANYONS AND MOUNTAINS IS WHERE JIM FELT MOST AT HOME. HE DIDN’T FEEL THAT IN BIGGER CITIES, WHICH HE TRIED TO AVOID. (UNLESS HE HAD TO GO THERE FOR A BOWLING TOURNAMENT!)
JIM LIKED FISHING FOR STEELHEAD IN THE WEST FORK OF THE HOOD RIVER. HIS FAVORITE FISHING HOLE WAS THE “PUNCH BOWL” WHICH WAS THE DEADLINE FOR LEGAL FISHING ON THAT FORK OF THE RIVER. HE FED HIS FAMILY FOR MANY YEARS NEARLY EXCLUSIVELY FROM THAT SPOT UNTIL THE COLUMBUS DAY STORM/FLOOD FILLED THE PUNCHBOWL WITH BOULDERS, AND THE HOLDING WATER WAS RUINED.
HE ESPECIALLY LIKED FISHING FOR SALMON OFF THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA WITH HIS BROTHER ACE AND HIS WIFE GENNY. JIM LIKED TO FISH WITH A VERY LONG LINE, THINKING HE’D GET DOWN DEEP WHERE THE BIG SALMON WERE. HE WAS SET UP TROLLING LIKE THAT ONE DAY AND A BIG FISH HIT. THE ROD BOWED DOWN DEEPLY ONCE, THEN BOUNCED UP AND OVER THE BACK AS JIM SCRAMBLED AND REACHED IN VAIN TO GRAB THE ROD. THAT’S THE LAST JIM SAW OF THAT ROD OR THAT FISH!
NEARLY EVERY FAMILY OUTING OR TRIP OF ANY NATURE HE ALWAYS HAD SOME FISHING GEAR WITH HIM. IF THERE WAS WATER AROUND, AND TIME TO FISH, HE WAS READY TO GIVE IT A TRY.
WHILE LIVING IN CENTRAL VALE JIM AND HIS BROTHER ACE TRAPPED GOPHERS FOR A NICKLE PER NOSE, PAID BY THE RANCH OWNER. HE AND HIS BROTHER THOUGHT THEY WERE REALLY IN THE MONEY, UNTIL HIS MOTHER MADE THEM USE THEIR NICKELS TO BUY SCHOOL CLOTHES AND SHOES IN THE FALL.
IN 1941-45, JIM AND THE OTHER CHILDREN WATCHED WITH BINOCULARS FOR JAPANESE WAR PLANES DURING THE WWII YEARS, WHEN THEY WEREN’T GOING TO SCHOOL. THESE WERE SCARY TIMES.
JIM AND VIRGINIA USED TO DOUBLE DATE WITH ALAN SHARKEY AND DORIS IN HIGH SCHOOL. BECAUSE FUEL WAS RATIONED AND MONEY SCARCE, JIM SUPPLIED THE CAR AND ALAN SUPPLIED THE GAS. COOPERATION WAS NECESSARY!
JIM ALSO LEARNED THAT DATING A FARMERS DAUGHTER IN THE 1940’S WAS INTIMIDATING. FARMERS ARE UP AT 3 OR 4 IN THE MORNING, SO IT’S HARD TO SNEAK IN AFTER CURFEW.
IN 1944-45, JIM’S PARENTS SENT THE CHILDREN TO LIVE WITH HIS GRANDMOTHER McCLAIN BACK IN COVE, WHILE THEY WORKED IN PORTLAND BUILDING “LIBERTY SHIPS” FOR THE WAR EFFORT. DURING THAT PERIOD JIM AND ACE WERE JOINED BY COUSIN DONALD. THE THREE OF THEM WERE A HAND FULL FOR GRANDMA McCLAIN.
AFTER THE WAR ENDED THEY ALL MOVED HOME TO THE MT HOOD AREA.
ONE DAY JIM AND DONALD WERE WATCHING THEIR DADS, BROTHERS TED AND LEE, RE-ROOFING A BARN. DONALD TURNED TO JIM AND ASKED “WHAT’S A BLUE STREAK?” JIM REPLIED HE DIDN’T KNOW? WHY? DONALD SAID HE HEARD WHEN PEOPLE START SWEARING AND SHOUTING LIKE THAT AFTER DAD HIT HIS THUMB WITH A HAMMER,,,, WELL THAT’S A BLUE STREAK!??
JIM STARTED HIGH SCHOOL AT COVE IN 1943-44, AND FINISHED HS AT PARKDALE HIGH SCHOOL IN 1945-46. JIM GRADUATED HS IN 1946. HS CLASS OF ‘46 WAS 8 GIRLS AND 4 BOYS. JIM WAS VALEDICTORIAN OF HIS CLASS. ( I think Dad graduated in 1946, and mom in 1947…and I think he was Salutatorian…a girl (McIssac) was valedictorian)