Albert George (Al) Riney, 91, of Heppner, Ore., died Thursday, January 12th at Mid Columbia Medical Center, in The Dalles, Ore.
Al was born April 15th, 1925, in Monmouth, Ore., to John and Corinne (Pierce) Riney. He attended school in Rickreall, Ore., and Oregon State University. While still in school, he worked and lived at a local dairy, milking cows early each morning before leaving for school, to help out his family with income.
In 1942, at the age of 17, during World War II, Al enlisted in the Marines and took his jungle training in Pukai, New Zealand, before being assigned to the South Pacific Theater. He served on Guadalcanal and Okinawa. While on Guadalcanal, he and his older brother Anthol (Skip), a B-24 pilot, were stationed there at the same time, spending time together, during the war. They had a “special code” worked out through their letters to let each other know where they were, as actual locations were restricted by the military. It helped always knowing where each brother was during those war years.
After the war and his discharge, Al returned to Oregon working with the extension service at the Oregon State Fair in Salem, and the Pacific International Show in Portland with 4-H and FFA. Through his job, Al was introduced to George Webb, a wheat farmer and cattle rancher, in Mayville, Ore. George and his wife Vida offered him a job working for them. Al went to work for them in 1948, moving to Eastern Oregon, and Mayville.
In 1949 Al married Peggy Dean (Rice) Hayes. They later divorced.
He worked for Red Leonard selling farm equipment, and various local jobs in Condon, before becoming Condon’s postmaster for 14 years, from 1962 to 1976. He went well beyond his job description as postmaster, delivering packages and braving severe weather conditions to make sure the mail was delivered to the post office and to its recipients on at timely basis. He always felt it was his job to do the best for his customers, well beyond what was required.
Al was very active in community organizations. He was an EMT, and ambulance driver for over 20 years and instrumental in Condon receiving its first used ambulance. He was a volunteer fireman, hunter safety instructor, 4-H leader, and one of the oldest members of the Elks, having received his 50-year pin many years ago. Also, he was a member of Masons and Odd Fellows.
Fishing and hunting were also enjoyable times for Al. He helped his good friend, Bill Flatt of Mid Columbia Bus Company, drive bus for Boys Scout groups to various events around the United States, and on group vacations trips organized by Bill and his wife Peggy. During these years he also “helped” local farmers and friends with animal needs, as no local veterinarians were available in the area. He was called “farmer’s friend” as he was always there to help when needed in any way he could.
In 1976, Al moved to a very old farm house in Mikkalo, Ore., and started dryland wheat farming. He loved farming, and farmed over 14,000 acres for 23 years in the Mikkalo and Condon area.
On February 14th, 1995, in Yuma, Ariz., he married Linda (Shaffer) Cejka, and they continued to farm until his retirement in 1999. After his 1999 retirement, he and Linda moved to Heppner, Ore., and built Al’s first new home, of which he was very proud. He enjoyed his retirement, still active in Masons and Odd Fellows, and served as director of the Cemetery Board and Willow Creek Golf Club. He had a large woodworking shop in his garage and spent many hours “in his world” making wood projects for his home as well as others. He started his own tradition of making boot jacks for many of the Ruralite Magazine’s featured individuals, inlaying their own brand if available, which he personally delivered to them.
He enjoyed visiting with all his friends, and with others while getting the mail or running errands. He also loved his weekly poker group, and said they had a lot of fun, and no one got hurt no matter how “sneaky” they all were. He always said he enjoyed life very much, what he was doing every day, and very fortunate to have all he had, and his long life.
He was quoted as saying, “The Lord won’t take me and the devil won’t have me, so you guys will have to put up with me a while longer.” Apparently, the Lord changed his mind and wanted Al after all, and took him home.
He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Linda, at their home; his daughter Deanna Stinchfield and husband Rick of Salem; son Steve and wife Margaret of Prineville; son David and wife Sara of Condon; his nephews Dan Riney and Chris Riney of Eugene and Kent Anderson and wife Lori of Condon; and son-in- law Bob Smith of Condon. Also, eight grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother Anthol (Skip; his daughter Susan Smith; and sister-in- law Dolores Kelly.
At his request there will be no formal service. A remembrance of Al’s life will be held later at his home. He will be missed by caring family and friends that he touched with his life.
Donations may be made in his name to the Morrow County Ambulance Fund, P.O. Box 9, Heppner, OR 97836.
Sweeney Mortuary of Heppner is in care of arrangements.