Mr. Lelus “Pete” Baucum, 93, of Canyon City, Oregon passed away Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 at his home outside of Canyon City.
LJ “Pete” Baucum was born December 28th, 1924 to John and Irene Baucum in Denver, Colorado. The first of four children, he spent part of his early childhood near Hood River, Oregon. Moving to Grant County with his family in the early 1930’s, he attended elementary school at the Moon Creek schoolhouse west of Mt. Vernon. It was during his senior year of high school at Grant Union when he was drafted into the US Army at 18 years old, serving 2 1/2 years in the Army as a squad leader (corporal) in the 246th Combat Engineers. He was part of the D-day forces, landing in the third wave on Utah beach in the invasion of Normandy. The combat engineers were demolition specialists, clearing the roads for other troops. He was eventually wounded twice, the second time by a landmine, and sent home to the veterans hospital for eighteen months in Portland for surgery and rehabilitation. He recalled the red willows near where he was wounded with fondness, as he used them to drag himself to safety and hide until our troops found him. He received two bronze stars and two Purple Hearts for his service in the European campaign, which included the capture of German troops. At the hospital in Portland, he met a nurse named Ella Eichler. The two were married on Dec. 2, 1945, and lived in Van-port until they lost everything in the flood there. They moved back to Grant County with their two small daughters in 1950. With the support of his wife, Pete graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in 1951. He spent the better part of his teaching career at Grant Union High School, where he retired in 1984. He was presented at that time with his high school diploma, which he had never received due to WWII.
Pete loved the outdoors and loved to share it with others. Teaching biology and conservation classes, driving school bus, and
coaching track, he is fondly remembered by many of his students as “LJ” instead of Mr. Baucum. During the summers Pete loved to ride, spending many hours in the saddle packing salt or moving cattle for various ranches. Come springtime he always looked forward to a good branding, roping calves was something he enjoyed immensely, as well as the good times spent with his neighbors. In later years Pete traded the horse and saddle for a four-wheeler, and it became his legs for the remainder of the time he spent in the woods. He loved fishing and
hunting, and the camaraderie of time shared with family and friends was something he looked forward to each fall. Some of his favorite hunting stories included his group of friends in the “over-the-hill gang”.
Pete’s wife Ella passed away on Feb. 17, 2007. He remarried the following year to a long time friend from church, Barbara Pollak. They spent many happy years between the ranch up Canyon Creek and Barb’s place in John Day. Four years ago Pete took a fall resulting in an injury that required surgery. He never fully recovered from the fall and stayed his remaining years at Valley View Assisted Living. Barbara continued to be ever faithful at his side, bringing him much joy and happiness.
Pete is survived by his wife Barbara, and his four children; Patricia McArthur (Gary), Rebecca Hagen (Robert), Richard Baucum (Karen), Jeffrey Baucum (Terri) and stepchildren Kathy and Terrance Pollak. Grandchildren; Jay and Troy Carniglia, Paula Jefferson, Shawn Hagen, David, Kevin, Travis, Mathias and
Abbie Baucum. He also has 11 great-grandchildren: Garrett, Ely, Kayla, Ashley, Quinn, Steven and Audrey, Levi, Hayden, Ruby and Barrett; and three great-great- grandaughters Ally, Brylie and Harlyn. Pete is survived by his brother Bill Baucum, and sister Jean Willey, and many nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Ella, brother Jerry, and two infant children.
Pete will long be remembered for his great smile, sense of humor, his ability to make people feel welcome, his quick wit, and his love of the Good Lord. He was a very special man who saw a lot of change in his lifetime. They don’t make them like him anymore.
Donations may be made to:
Blue Mountain Hospice
422 W. Main St., John Day OR 97845
Grant County Ranch and Rodeo Museum
John Day United Methodist Church