Community Obituaries

Obituary: Walter Nellis Trandum – June 15 1930 – July 7, 2017

Walt Trandum

Walt was born in Seattle, Wash. June 15, 1930 to Walter F. and Nellie May (Nellis) Trandum. The oldest of four boys, Walt deeply loved his three brothers, Russ, Don and Jerry. He worked hard from an early age, working a variety of jobs, including a summer on a fishing boat at age 16. He met his bride to be, Yvonne LeMay, while still in high school. They married in 1951 and raised five children.

Already in the Naval Reserve, Walt was called to active duty during the Korean War. He served as a Quartermaster aboard a submarine, the USS Tinosa and identified proudly as a Navy Veteran throughout his life. While stationed in San Diego, he volunteered for and was one of few that made it all the way through Navy SEAL “Hell Week” training.

After active duty, Walt worked a number of different jobs including being a milkman, a beer truck driver, a restaurant manager and a car salesman. Then in 1960, he landed a job selling advertisements in the Yellow Pages. That was the beginning of his 25-year career with the phone company, known back then as Pacific NW Bell. One of the management level positions he attained required relocation, so in 1967 Walt and his family moved from the Seattle area to Portland, Ore.

He soon became very active in the SW Portland Lions’ Club. A dedicated and hardworking member, he was a District Governor in 1973-74 and then Council Chair in 1976-77. As Chair of the Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation in 1987-88, he led the process creating an agreement with Good Samaritan that provides free occupancy to the Foundation in perpetuity. Walt was also instrumental in creating the Lions Eye Bank of Oregon back then and in passing legislation in the State Capitol allowing technicians to enucleate eye tissue.

Retiring from the phone company in 1985, Walt and Yvonne bought some property at the coast and built themselves a house in Wheeler, Ore. After moving to the coast, Walt quickly became involved in numerous local community activities. He chaired or co-chaired several beach clean ups, and as an engaged citizen, also became involved in local politics. He served as Mayor of Wheeler twice, and has continued to work with the city council over the years, on a variety of issues. As a catalyst for positive change, he is responsible for many public service and public works upgrades that the citizens of Wheeler now enjoy.

He also became a very active member of the Rockaway Lions, anchoring many of their worthwhile activities, over the years. Among his accomplishments was the creation of the group’s now famous “Weenie Wagon”, which generates significant funds every summer for many worthwhile projects.

Through his association with the Lions, Walt became a longtime advocate for the deaf community. He was relentless in his support of Camp Taloli, a camp for deaf children near Stayton, Ore. He was once even voted “Man of the Year” by the Portland Association of the Deaf.

A true “award winner”, Walt received awards from practically every group he ever associated with, always for his tireless dedication to their various worthwhile efforts. Some of his best work however, went largely unrecognized, as he often helped family and friends (and family of friends) that found themselves in difficulty, with no one ever knowing anything about it.

An active outdoorsman, Walt was a boy scout, a backpacker and tent camper early on. Later he camped in trailers and eventually became a motor-home owner. He always owned a boat. While a successful hunter of deer, elk and birds in his day, he was first and foremost always a fisherman. Almost every family camping trip that the kids enjoyed growing up, he later admitted, were actually fishing trips. He loved catching trout, as well as salmon, steelhead, crab and clams. His boat, the “Uptown Wheeler” was a familiar site on the Nehalem Bay for many years. He was known to other local fisherman as the “Sturgeon General” due to his discovery and mastery of the Nehalem Bay sturgeon fishery.

In his day, Walt was also known as a serious bowler, a barefoot water skier, a golfer, a thrower of horseshoes, gatherer of wild mushrooms and a huckleberry picker, among other things.

Social by nature, Walt made friends easily and kept in contact with family and friends throughout his long life. A great cook and gracious host, he frequently initiated and facilitated large gatherings involving food. Many years after his retirement, he began hosting an annual reunion of former phone company employees, down at the coast, which ran for more than a decade.

After several Oregon coastal winters, Walt and Yvonne became “snowbirds”. For a number of years, they wintered in Yuma, Ariz., where they made many more new friends and hooked up with old ones. Walt somehow ended up as President of the Desert Rovers Chapter of the Family Motor Coach Association, at least for a while. They also liked to visit Hawaii and traveled to Australia and New Zealand to visit friends.

Walt was also known as a bird and squirrel feeder, cribbage player, newspaper reader, letter writer, family historian, public speaker, crossword puzzle solver, lobbyist, story teller, mentor, home Jeopardy player, columnist (“The Old Geezer”) and always a kidder, as well as a devoted son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. His support and guidance, as well as his quick wit and sense of humor will be greatly missed. He helped a lot of people, touched a lot of lives and still found time to catch a lot of fish.

Walt is survived by his wife Yvonne and his children, Loye Barnes, Walter Trandum, Karen Wente, Margaret Addington and Thomas Trandum, plus 12 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren (with a 10th on the way).
His yet to be scheduled Celebration of Life will be at the Lion’s Hall in Rockaway Beach, Ore., sometime later this summer or early fall, per his wishes. Remembrances in Walt’s honor can be sent to the Rockaway Lions.

Donations to be dispersed between Camp Taloali, Rockaway Lions Club and Oregon Sight and Hearing Foundation. Rockaway Lions Club PO Box 611 Rockaway Beach 97136.