Curtis Wayne Vandegriffe, age 67, died in July from a stroke. He lived the last few years of his life in the warm and sunny desert of Green Valley, Arizona. He was preceded in death by his mom and dad, Ray and Marcella. He is survived by his children, Justin, Loni and Carson, grandchildren Isabella and Jack, and siblings Vonda and Stan.
Curt grew up in the Pleasant Hill, Eugene and Springfield area. He graduated from Pleasant Hill High School in 1972 and enlisted in the Air Force. He married his high school sweetheart, Jean a year later. He trained as a jet engine mechanic and was stationed in Guam, Spokane, Alaska, Texas, Kansas, and Las Vegas. He fought for us in the Vietnam war. He was promoted over the years attaining a rank of Master Sergeant, retiring in 1995 after 20 years of service. After the Air Force, he worked at Rocket Engineering in Spokane converting prop plane engines to turbine engines and then did maintenance/handy-man work at Providence hospital in Colville where he was also in charge of the emergency preparedness equipment.
As a young boy, Curt had difficulties in school until it was discovered that he was dyslexic. After treatment for that, he became an excellent student for the remainder of his school years. Growing up he was involved in 4-H, showing his heifer at the Lane County Fair. He enjoyed playing Little League baseball as well. During the summer, he picked beans, strawberries and cherries to earn money for school clothes. In high school, Curt discovered his love of woodworking and ornamental iron work. He also had a love for music and was a member of the Pleasant Hill High School choral group, Ascensions. He was athletic and well liked, voted 'boy of the month' for friendliness. He was a member of the Letterman's club for 3 years, becoming an officer his senior year. He played football each year of high school and ran track Freshman and sophomore year.
His love for woodworking continued and he became an excellent craftsman, remodeling and building homes while in the Air Force. Having never enjoyed the rain in the Willamette Valley, he eventually relocated to Kettle Falls, WA. He built a beautiful home, including an initial small house/garage and all of the outbuildings. He also farmed the acreage he owned on the Kettle River.
He really enjoyed cooking for the weekly church youth group in Kettle Falls. He also made sure that friends and acquaintances in his AA group who had no family were invited to his home for holiday dinners. He enjoyed volunteering at the Eugene Mission.
He loved travel. He spent a lot of time in Australia, he really enjoyed New Zealand, took several trips to Hawaii, and he really liked Switzerland. His last two trips out of the country were to Caw-stuh Rica (as he pronounced it) and Ecuador, he really liked Costa Rica, especially the food!
He sure did like himself some gooood shop talk! He must have had endless hours under his belt talking about building and carpentry, custom building cabinets and doing custom mill work, and working on cars. We can't forget the all of the fishing and hunting stories, like the time he shot a moose the same time as his friend (they split the meat). Also hot-tubbing in AK when it was way below zero, and seeing massive monitor lizards in Guam.
Circumstances led Curt back to Oregon. The timing of it allowed Curt to become the primary caregiver for his mom during the last few years of her life. Following her death, Curt left rainy Oregon again to move to Arizona, where he resided until his death.
Curt was a loving son, brother, and dad. He was kind and generous with both his time and resources, always offering help before ever being asked. His mission in life was to serve others and he did it with no thought of acknowledgment or thanks – it was just the right thing to do. Although his body gave out on him the last years of his life, he frequently mentioned that he was thankful to be alive.
One of Curt's favorite prayers: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference."
A service with military honors will be held at Willamette National Cemetery on Friday, October 1st, at 1:30pm. Everyone is welcome for an indoor/outdoor gathering in Oregon City following the ceremony.
The cemetery is located at 11800 Mt Scott Blvd, Happy Valley, OR 97086 (503) 273-5250
In lieu of flowers, we request donations be made to the Eugene Mission in Curt's honor, thank you.
Published by MilitaryTimes.com on Sep. 13, 2021.