OSU college of ag sciences to honor four in Morrow county

October 21, 2004

CORVALLIS - Bob and Suzanne Jepsen, Merlyn Robinson and Shirley Rugg, all of Heppner, are among the 31 men and women who will be honored as 2004 Diamond Pioneers by the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences.

Dean Thayne Dutson will welcome the 21st class to the college’s Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Registry during a luncheon Thursday, Oct. 21, at the OSU Alumni Center in Corvallis. Speaker will be former State Rep. Tony Van Vliet.

The registry started when the college observed its 75th anniversary as a way of recognizing the agricultural and community achievements of those 75 and older.

Bob Jepsen started farming in 1944 and operated his dryland wheat and barley farm until retiring in 1992. The farm operated by Bob and Suzanne Jepsen was regarded as an innovative operation with outstanding yields and excellent soil conservation practices.

Bob Jepsen is a past president of both the Morrow County and Oregon Wheat Growers Leagues, a past chair of the State Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Committee, served on the National Wheat Industry Council and chaired the Day of Bread. He is a past Morrow County Conservation Man of the Year and recognized by the Morrow County CowBelles as a Father of the Year. Since retiring from farming, he has served as Heppner’s mayor for the last 12 years.

Suzanne Jepsen worked as a partner in the farm and has worked with senior citizens for many years. After moving to Heppner, she has been named to the city’s planning commission. She chaired the group who promoted, built and operates the Willow Creek Valley Assisted Living Facility. She and Bob Jepsen were recognized as Heppner’s Man and Woman of the Year in 2003.

The Jepsens were nominated for the Diamond Pioneer Registry by Harold Kerr, former Morrow County Extension agent, and the OSU Department of Animal Sciences.

Merlyn Robinson, a Morrow County native, and her late husband, Donald, were named Livestock Growers of the Year for excellence in their Polled Hereford operation that is now run by their son, Kyle and wife Darcy.

Robinson has served as a 4-H leader since 1970 and judges 4-H horse shows in Oregon and Washington. She has chaired the Wranglers Club and Morrow County Open Class Horse shows. A member of the County Fair Board from 1979 to 1991, Robinson still is involved as chair of community booths and assists in the floral department.

For many years, she was a regular columnist for Columbia Basin newspapers. Her columns were aimed at helping people understand agricultural issues.

Shirley Rugg, also a Morrow County native, has been involved with agriculture throughout her life. In 1949, she her husband, George Rugg, took over the 5,200 head sheep operation from her parents. She continued with sheep until the 1970s when the operation changed to cattle.

Rugg was the first woman named to the Livestock Advisory Board of the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the first woman to receive the Morrow County Livestock Grower of the Year award in 1969. She is a past chair of the Pacific Northwest Section of the Society for Range Management. She was very involved in grazing on public lands issues.

Both Robinson and Rugg were nominated for the registry by the Morrow County Extension office, Morrow County Stockgrowers and the OSU Department of Animal Sciences.

Others to be honored include Jack Kalina, Albany; Beryl Elmore, Applegate; Maurice and Donna Johns, Athena; Howard Mader, Aumsville; Gerda Hyde, Chiloquin; Lynn Cannon, Coquille; Rodney Frakes, Norman Goetze, Roy Hathaway and Harry Mack, Corvallis.

Gordon Stanley, Eagle Point; Morris Culver, Eugene; Gerald Terjeson, Helix; Arnold "Dale" Scheller, Hillsboro; David Burkhart, Hood River; Frank Fobert, Hubbard; Delores Scott, Jordan Valley; Alan Withers, Paisley; Donald Hawkins and Stan Timmermann, Pendleton; Robert and Virginia Vogel, Talent; Virgil Ellett, The Dalles; Donald Michael, West Linn; Royal Brooks, Wilsonville; and Cecil Pierce, Fallon, Nevada.

Author: Len Calvert
Source: Loretta Mason