American Veteran 04

Vern S. Mecham

September 17, 1931 ~ February 21, 2022 (age 90)


Long time Mt. Vernon resident, Vern S. Mecham passed away suddenly on February 21, 2022, in Redding, California. A graveside service will be held June 4th, 2022, at the Canyon City Cemetery at 10:00 AM.


Vern was born at home in Moreland, Idaho to Alma & Caroline (Schiess) Mecham on September 17, 1931. He was the fifth of eight children.


Vern’s early years were working with his family on farms in Idaho and eventually in Adrian, Oregon. Some of his early stories about farming dealt with working the fields with workhorses.


Vern graduated from Adrian High School in 1950. While in high school, he participated in sports which he claimed kept him in school which was why he was adamant that kids be able to be involved in sports or other school activities.  


After graduation, Vern enlisted in the United States Air Force with thoughts of seeing the world. Although putting in for overseas duty, Vern’s “overseas” duty found him stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.  Vern wanted to fly but due to being color blind, he was grounded and instead became a hydraulics mechanic working on the “birds” he would have loved to have flown. Vern swears that having to always wear a cap while working in the Arizona heat on the tarmac caused him to lose the hair on top of his head.   


While deciding whether to re-enlist or not, Vern came to Mt. Vernon to visit his family.  Vern’s youngest sister, Eva, was a good friend of Mary Hall, a young lady whose family owned and operated the Crossroads Café.  Although Eva and Mary tried to find Vern a girlfriend to give him a reason not to “reup” in the Air Force, he was not interested in anyone they suggested and finally worked up the nerve to ask Mary to attend a dance with him.  This was the beginning of their love story for 49 years.  They were married on July 29, 1956.


Vern was offered a position in San Diego, California working on the jets he loved, and the move was made.  They welcomed their daughter, Carolyn, into their lives while living there. Vern and Mary always wanted more children, but it was not to be, and God only blessed them with Carolyn.  However, kids were always a part of this couple’s life. When it came to kids, Vern (and Mary) never said no to giving of their time or finding an extra dollar.


In late 1957/early 1958 Vern and Mary returned to Oregon, first working in the Nyssa/Adrian area on a farm and then moving to Mt. Vernon where Vern went to work at the sawmill in Mt. Vernon until the late-60s. He next worked at the Union 76 Oil Bulk Plant in John Day for Dean and Betty Elliot until early in the seventies when he accepted a position with the U.S. Forest Service on the road crew. He was hired as a laborer but on his first day he was promoted to backhoe operator, a position he loved doing until he retired in 1994.


A firm supporter of sports, Vern and family faithfully attended Mt. Vernon games at home and on the road. Vern was asked to run the basketball score clock in the sixties and you saw him sitting calmly behind the score table for many years.  He even helped out at other schools or at the District and State tournaments he loved to attend. 


Vern served on the Mt. Vernon School Board for 25+ years.  When the sports team bus needed a driver and no one applied for the position, Vern volunteered to drive the bus as long as Mary and Carolyn were allowed to travel with him.  Many memories were made on those trips. Even though Vern volunteered, by law he had to be compensated for his time in order for the insurance to be valid.  He would simply present his “earnings” to the school every year to be put back into the athletic budget.


Vern served as the Boy Scout leader for several years in the sixties sharing his love of the outdoors.  There were many fun trips in Vern’s old blue pickup to the mountains for a weekend campout.


Vern also served as Fire Chief of the Mt. Vernon Volunteer Fire Department for several years. One thing he was very proud of was the young men who had been Boy Scouts who volunteered as high school firefighters and worked hard to learn the proper technique of firefighting. 


Vern helped Mary (who was the school librarian for the Mt. Vernon Schools) after retiring. You would also find him helping with the kids in any capacity he could, whether sitting and listening to their reading, or helping with math.  


When Mary retired in 1996, the plan was for them to travel but due to health issues, Vern became Mary’s healthcare provider which he lovingly did until her death in July 2005. Before she had passed, Mary knew Vern needed to get back into the world outside their home. She urged him to go to a basketball game at Grant Union one night. The rest as they say is history. After her death, Vern watched Grant Union play football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, and softball.  One basketball night he was asked to fill in on the ticket table, which led him to volunteer to take tickets at Grant Union’s sporting events for several years so that parents could watch their kids play because he knew it was important for them to do so. When he needed to live with Carolyn, this was one of many things he missed doing.


Vern was a SUPER loving grandpa.  He taught his grandchildren how to camp, fish and handle guns safely like he had with so many other kids. When he helped Carolyn with projects at her home, he always had two little helpers (and older ones as they grew up) right at his side.  He never tired of answering questions or showing them how to do things.


Vern spent the last four years living with Carolyn. Although he missed life in Mt. Vernon, he did love being with his daughter and Bill and being around his grandchildren. When his great granddaughter joined the family, he was totally smitten with her, holding her every chance he got.  


Vern is survived by his daughter Carolyn (Bill), two grandchildren, Tim Winship and Kristina (Tim) Schell and great granddaughter Elleri Schell, as well as 21 nieces and nephews who loved their Uncle Vern and rubbing his bald spot.  He is preceded in death by the love of his life, Mary, parents Alma and Caroline Mecham, brothers, sisters and their spouses, Rone & Norma Mecham, Elden & Iris Mecham, Alice & Dick Ashcraft, Roy & Arlene Mecham, Audrey & Jessie Stoker, Ethel & Charlie Cauthron, and Eva & Dale Osborn, as well as three nephews.    


  In lieu of flowers, his family urges you to give what you can to any Veteran organization, charity, or youth program of your choice, through Driskill Memorial Chapel, 241 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day, Oregon 97845.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Vern S. Mecham, please visit our floral store.


Graveside Service
June 4, 2022

10:00 AM
Canyon City Cemetery
Three Point Road
Canyon City, OR 97845

© 2022 Driskill Memorial Chapel. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility