Steven Jonathan Eyman


Born December 2, 1920 Died January 10, 1999


The family of Albert and Nellie Eyman was completed with the arrival of Steven Jonathan's birth at the farmhouse in Rural Dell on December 2, 1920. He joined sisters Roberta, Lucia and Anna Lou. As a small child, Steven kept busy helping with chores on the farm, he was in charge of feeding the calves. There were sheep, goats, milk cows, cattle, chickens, pigs and horses to tend. With an orchard, a garden, corn to hoe and potatoes to be dug, there was plenty to do. Steven had a fortuitous upbringing which is seen in an often told story that occurred on a Monday (washday) in early spring when he was very young. Anna Lou wa.s watching him, and decided it would be a good day to go fishing, so she rigged up her pole with a hook and took him down to Bear Creek. While she was looking for the right spot, somehow Steven fell fully clothed into the creek. Anna Lou helped Steven to an island in the middle of the creek and then ran back to the house to get their mother. When they returned to the creek, the only thing Mama saw was her little boy's red knit hat floating in the water. Panic ensued but on closer inspection, Steven was found right where sister had left him. There were also fun times to be had growing up on a farm, and when Steven was a boy, grain harvest was accomplished with stationary threshing machines. He often related tales of building forts in the straw stacks when the threshing crews were at work.

Steven walked with his sisters to elementary school at Rural Dell, about a mile away. He carried his lunch with him and of course, any books he might be reading. Upon graduation, Steven attended Molalla Union High making many lasting friendships. Steven played a horn in the school orchestra and band, belonged to Orange M and was vice president of Future Farmers of America. He played baseball and the right tackle on the football team weighing in at 146 pounds. The yearbook notes the team was too light and scored no victories. Other interests included dramatics where he participated in the junior class play, "Captain Applejack" and as a reporter on the WAR WHOOP in charge of "thoughts". That seems appropriate for he always had thoughts to share with others. The yearbook lists his senior ambition to be Fred Astaire, the 2nd.

After high school Steven enrolled at Oregon State College where he took courses in agriculture and farm management. A mean backstroke earned him a letter as a member of the swim team, and he pitched on the baseball team. Steven joined Theta Chi fraternity where he made many more lifelong friends. He liked school, loved the Nickel Dances, music and just having a good time. Steven graduated from OSC in May, 1942. He had such fond memories of those college days and told many high school graduates, "these are some of the best years of your life, enjoy them to the fullest." Another comment of Dad's was that as long as one maintained the grades to stay in school, there were none of the responsibilities that came with raising a family. No doubt he missed his carefree and relaxed college days.

Anxious to put all his knowledge from OSC into practice, he returned to the Rural Dell area and purchased property near his father's farm. He was on his own land, where he started out raising a variety of crops and livestock, and preferred those that were machine rather than labor intensive. One of his first livestock ventures was with bronze turkeys, shipping the eggs to Albany and the Midwest. Profits from a few good years with turkeys provided the money for building a new family home. The turkeys lasted until about 1963 when the flock size required went from 2,000 birds to over 50,000, and he wasn't that fond of turkeys!

It was at the rehearsal dinner of his fraternity brother Art Roberts, that he met Dorothy Gerling. The time was June of 1943 and their first "date" was later that evening when they went dancing at Jantzen Beach to the music of Jack Teagarten. They were married on September 10, 1944. Their honeymoon was spent at Cannon Beach which may be one of the reasons the Oregon Coast was a favorite getaway destination.

Steven always had a soft spot for Hereford cattle. Winters were occupied with lambs and daily adventures through the woods in his red and black wool coat to check the cows and tag the newborn calves. His pocket contained a small date book where he meticulously recorded the birth of each calf and any other important information about his days on the farm. Once transistor radios became affordable he carried one with him tuned to the news (KEX) and music. Sometimes when the animals didn't cooperate, Steven would bend over to catch a calfs back leg and end up losing his radio. In some cases, he would come across the radio a year or two later, rusted in the field.

Along with the daily work of farming, Dad was interested in the latest farm management and animal husbandry issues. He read many publications and al­ ways had topics to share and discuss with others. In his early farming days he became involved in the Young Farmers Organization and the Oregon Turkey Growers Association. He was a member of the Oregon Sheep Growers Associa­ tion, and was president of the Clackamas County and Western Oregon Livestock Associations. He often traveled to Salem to testify before legislative committees on agricultural issues. He was a member of the Oregon Livestock Advisory Committee and the Clackamas County Extension Advisory Council. Steven was honored as the Stockman of the Year for Clackamas County in 1979. As a six year member of the Clackamas County Fair Board during the 1960's, Steven promoted the strong agricultural flavor of the county. He was elected a director of the Canby Telephone Association serving for 30 years, and he and Dorothy had an opportunity to travel while attending conventions.

Many of you reading this will remember Dad's love of traditional jazz. After Dorothy retired from teaching, they planned numerous trips to Dixieland Jazz festivals. Upon returning home, the planning for the next trip would begin while listening to tapes of their current favorites. Often the destination would depend upon which bands were playing at a particular location. They especially enjoyed the ones with friends in Sun Valley and San Diego.

Remember the radio we talked about earlier? Well the disadvantage was that it carried Oregon State games, for Steven remained a diehard fan throughout his life. Football seasons were the hardest for the family for when OSU lost, which was often, he was depressed until the next game. In a letter he wrote to the Athletic Director, Steven implored him to get the team's act together or quit the effort entireiy since it caused him to mistreat his animals and be less than polite to his family. Basketball season was much easier on us as the team usually won. He enjoyed Orange "O" and many times went to Oregon State games with his friend Paul Washburn. In later years he took Ray Itschner to the football games and they watched in frustration to the bitter end. This past season and OSU's incredible Civil War win over Oregon had to be in Steven's honor.

Participating in the Ralph Coleman Chapter of the Beaver Club, the OSU President's Club, and his membership on the E. R. Jackman Foundation Advisory Committee provided Steven and Dorothy with opportunities to keep up with old college friends and form new ones. In 1996 Steven became a member of the Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Career Achievement Registry at OSU and the whole family attended the luncheon in his honor.

As chiidren we all helped on the farm. It seemed to us that often Dad would say he needed our help for "one" small project just when you were getting ready to go somewhere. If everything went well and you finished early you would start to anticipate being "on time" for your date just as Dad would remember one or two additional things he would like to have done while you were there. During the summers there would always be a few nights when Dad would call and say, "it's starting to rain we need to pick up the hay." Then those recruited would gather and load all of the available trucks and trailers. In later years we'd top the evening off with ''Brown Cow" ice cream.

If a neighbor or friend called with a problem or had broken down nearby, Dad would never hesitate to help. He always seemed to have time to share in conversation with others, or reminisce about days gone by, enjoying his time with family and friends. In later years, family stories, genealogy and historic preservation became a part of his day. He saved many letters from his early life and we appreciate the wealth of information they provide.

Preserving the farm, keeping the trees growing and looking out for each other were Steven's priorities in recent years. Paul remembers Dad saying, "By reading my date books and following what I did each day, you can keep the farm going in the years to come." We hope to do just that, as it would be the greatest tribute we could provide for a man who loved his family, the land and his OSU Beavers.