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August 00, 2010

Irl Davis, Jr.

     Irl Davis, Jr. died July 26, 2010, at his home on the Tygh Ridge Ranch at the age of 87.
     He was born Jan. 21, 1923, in The Dalles. He was the second of five children born to Irl and Vale Davis. “Junior” as he was known as a young man, spent the majority of his growing up years in Mulino. Each summer, however, he worked side by side with his grandfather on the Tygh Ridge homestead which has remained in the family since 1873.
     He was a star athlete at Molalla High School where he won all-state honors in track and field and all-conference honors in football. Upon graduation, he married his high school sweetheart, Orlena Mary Phelps. Together they moved east to ranch and farm on Tygh Ridge and in Tygh Valley.
     During World War II, he ignored the national exclusion waver for farmers and enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He was an automotive mechanic, became weapons qualified as a rifle expert, and received a Good Conduct Medal while serving in Guam and the Marianas Islands. He shared many stories of his participation on the football team for the Marine Corps’ Fifth Service Depot. He was on a troop ship headed for Japan when the war ended.
     The years moved swiftly for the Davis family after the war. Together Irl and Orlena raised two children, several foster children, cattle, wheat, and hay while becoming deeply involved in their home community. He served as Wasco Electric Cooperative director for ten years, as a long-term member of the Wasco County Union High School Board and for 20 years he was rodeo chairman for the Wasco County Fair and Rodeo.
     “Have recipe, will travel,” became his slogan as he became well-known for his work as committee head for the pit barbecue sponsored annually for 18 years by the Wasco County Livestock Association. In 1979 he and his wife were awarded Family of the Year by the association.
     He had an energy level that astounded even his wife; his passion for community building legendary; he was seldom idle. From farming he moved into the logging industry for 10 years, and then became the original land developer of the Pine Hollow Community in Wamic, built upon what was once meadow land used for grazing their cattle. Together they founded the Pine Hollow Volunteer Fire Department and First Responders.
     They supported the community with a lakeside park, restaurant, golf course and air strip. Every July 4th they threw a grand party hosting as many as 3,000 guests. He and his wife then decided to provide a place for their friends to winter and developed a Pine Hollow South destination in Yuma, Ariz., which included a nine-hole golf course, swimming pool and bathhouse.
     They returned to Tygh Valley to build their retirement home. Irl was famously proud of his spacious “barn” which housed trophies from a lifetime of hunting in the United States, and from memorable trips taken with his son to South Africa, Canada, and Mexico. The Barn was a setting which drew together numerous friends and family to tell tall tales, to share hunting experiences, and to plan the next great adventure. He was the catalyst — the sign over the Barn’s doorway tells the whole story: “This Kingdom is Ruled by an Irl.”
     He was preceded in death by his wife, Orlena Davis.
     He is survived by Irl Michael and Carolyn Davis and their children Molly Davis, Dea and Joe Mochnick, and Devin Chase; and by Sharon and Wayne Appleman and their children Mary Appleman, John Appleman and Lynn Walker.
     Private interment will be held Saturday, Aug. 21 followed by a celebration of life for Irl and Orlena at the Barn on the Tygh Ridge Ranch from noon to 4 p.m. Donations may be made to Hospice of The Gorge. Arrangements are by Spencer, Libby & Powell Funeral Home.



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The Dalles Chronicle • PO Box 1910, The Dalles OR 97058 (541) 296-2141 •
Serving Wasco and Sherman counties in Oregon, and Klickitat county in Washington USA