December 15, 1928 — December 13, 2020
Albert “Lee” Hoover, of Fossil, Oregon, passed away on Dec. 13, 2020, at the age of 91. Lee was born in Fossil on Dec. 15, 1928, to the late Thomas Burton and Mary Esma (Gilliam) Hoover. The Hoover family has been part of the Fossil community for 150 years, arriving in Fossil six years before the establishment of the first post office in town in 1876.
Lee spent most of his childhood living in, and later just over the hill from, the now abandoned mill town of Kinzua outside of Fossil. Lee’s father worked in Kinzua as the postmaster and his mother taught school there before taking over postmaster duties upon his father’s death. Lee worked many jobs as a young man in the former mill town, including delivering ice door-to-door from a horse-drawn wagon, driving the school bus, and later working in the sawmill.
Lee and his future wife, Patsy Ruth Woods, met while they both lived in Kinzua. Patsy moved to Kinzua from Cato, Missouri, in 1941 with her family. After Patsy completed high school, she and Lee were married in Kinzua on Sept. 18, 1949. For over 71 years, Lee remained the devoted and loving husband of Patsy Ruth.
Once married to Patsy, Lee worked in ranching and started his own small logging operation. Lee and Patsy purchased their first ranch along Butte Creek in 1949 where they lived for nine years, before relocating to Fossil. After a few years in town, Lee and Patsy returned to Butte Creek in 1964 when they purchased the ranch where they would remain and raise their family. The Hoover home, which is one of the last remaining “Kinzua Houses,” was moved nearly 10 miles from the former town site of Kinzua to its present location in the fall of 1980.
Lee was most at home on the Hoover Ranch, where he undoubtedly knew every speck of ground and many of his cows by name. Over the years, he raised a variety of cattle and harvested timber and hay on the ranch. In recognition of his sustainable management of the Hoover Ranch’s forest resources, Lee was named the Outstanding Western Tree Farmer of the Year in 1978 by the American Forest Institute.
Despite the demands of a growing family and a working ranch, Lee found time to serve his local community, including 15 years on the Fossil Administrative School Board and another 12 on the Educational Service District Board of Directors. He also enjoyed many years as an active member of the Fossil United Methodist Church and was even known to give a sermon now and then.
Lee’s public service extended to county government. He was elected county commissioner in 1978. In January of 1982, he was appointed as Wheeler County judge and was subsequently elected to the post in the fall of 1982 for a six-year term. Lee’s service as county judge followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, William Wesley Hoover, who was the first elected Wheeler County judge and who played a major role in construction of the road connecting Fossil to Kinzua to support the newly-opened Kinzua Pine Mills.
Through the years, the Hoover home has been a common and welcoming stopping point for family and friends, who always found an open door, a hot pot of coffee and, on a good day, a freshly-baked apple pie. Lee particularly enjoyed unexpected visits and conversations with strangers and friends alike. He was a fount of knowledge and a go-to source on topics ranging from animal husbandry and forestry to politics and the law.
Lee was a devoted family man who leaves behind a strong, solid legacy. He relished in his family’s many accomplishments and was a constant presence in their life milestones. In addition to his wife Patsy, Lee is survived by his daughter, Susan Anne Humphrey and her husband James; his daughter, Debra Ruth Stubblefield and her husband Daniel; his daughter, Connie Lee Keith; his son, William Wesley Hoover and his wife Cynthia; and his daughter, Peggy Jo Logan and her husband Bryce; as well as 21 grandchildren; 39 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild — with more on the way!
Lee was predeceased by his son, Leslie Lee Hoover; and his grandson, Joshua Everett Logan.
A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at the Fossil United Methodist Church, 1004 Main St., Fossil, Oregon 97830. Following current Covid guidelines, face masks and social distancing will be in place.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Parkinson’s Resource of Oregon, 2145 NW Overton St., Portland, OR 97201 or to the United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 426 Fossil, OR 97830.
Sweeney Mortuary of Condon is in care of arrangements. You may sign the online condolence book at www.sweeneymortuary.com.