Stephen (Steve) Roy Davis, 69, passed away after a short battle with cancer on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, at his home on Rock Creek outside of Arlington, Oregon, surrounded by family. He was born in The Dalles, Oregon, on November 6, 1944, to Gloria (Philippi) and Ronald Davis, weighing just three pounds.
The Davis family, including his brother Bruce, moved to the 4-D Ranch in Gilliam County in 1948 to raise Hereford cattle. They were active in horsemanship, 4-H, church activities and community service. Music played a large role in the daily life of the Davis family on Rock Creek.
Steve started school at the adjacent two-room Rock Creek Schoolhouse and later graduated from Arlington High School in 1963. He was an honor student, athlete, ace shot, expert horseman and master evaluator of livestock. As his brother recalls, He could just look at an animal and know what was wrong with it.
After high school, Steve enrolled in Oregon State University. He became a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, where he was quickly given the nickname of Duke for his cowboy ways and propensity for wearing his ubiquitous cowboy hat. While at OSU Steve participated in, and became head of, the livestock judging team, as his father Ron and grandfather Roy Philippi had before him.
Steve graduated from OSU in 1967 with a degree in agricultural science and traveled to New Zealand as a member of the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE). Here Steve studied the animal husbandry practices of the Kiwis. On his first day in the country he sheared 10 sheep and worked his way up to 35 per day. During his trip, he also became famous in the surrounding areas for shooting a wallaby mid-hop. He later flew the stuffed wallaby back to his parents on Rock Creek. The wallaby sits in the living room at 4-D Ranch to this day.
When he returned to the states, he was hired by Wilson Certified Foods as a lamb buyer stationed in Omaha, Nebraska, for seven years. This is where he met Kathleen (Kathy) Agnes Kosiba and married in 1971. On April 4, 1973, Kathleen gave birth to their first child, Kimberly Kay. On September 25, 1974, they had their first son, Justin Roy (J.R.). Shortly after, in June of 1975, Steve returned to Eastern Oregon with wife and children. In Hermiston he continued to work in the sheep business for many years, including starting and running his own sheep operation. In 1980, an article in the periodical Oregon Farmer-Stockman chronicled his 600-ewe gypsy sheep operation.
It is here that Steve and his family settled; adding another son, Philip, in 1981. All kids graduated from Hermiston High, and went on to graduate with four-year degrees from Oregon colleges and universities.
Steve and Kathy were separated in 1989 and were later divorced.
Later in life, Steve met his second wife, Maggie, and they resettled at the 4-D Ranch on Rock Creek. They later divorced and Steve remained on Rock Creek.
Steve started and maintained a yard and landscape business. He also enjoyed playing his guitar weekly at the Catholic Church when living in Hermiston and the Methodist Church when he moved to Arlington, as well as performing at many weddings, funerals and community events.
Survivors include his brother Bruce and his wife Susan of Boise, Idaho; son J.R. of Rock Creek; daughter Kimberly and her husband Mark Gonzales of Portland; son Philip of Portland; grandson Sage Davis (J.R.) of Boise; niece Michelle Davis of Boise; and numerous cousins.
Preceded in death by his parents, and grandparents Roy and Myrt Philippi, Ethel and Stephen Davis.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on June 21 at the Methodist Church in Arlington. A short graveside service will follow, with a meal back at the Methodist Church.
Memorial contributions can be made to the United Methodist Church of Arlington, P.O. Box 417, Arlington, OR 97812; The Rock Creek Community Center, c/o The Bank of Eastern Oregon, P.O. Box 38, Arlington, OR 97812; or Hospice of the Gorge in The Dalles, 20 E. Fourth St., The Dalles, OR 97058.
Sweeney Mortuary of Condon is in care of arrangements.