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Idaho-E. Oregon onion icon Owen Froerer dies at 87

Owen Froerer, lifelong farmer and patriarch of the Froerer family in Idaho-Eastern Oregon, passed away Wednesday, May 15, at age 87.owyhee-photo-for-section

Mr. Froerer, who remained active on the farm into this decade, was an icon in the Treasure Valley onion and asparagus industries as part of Froerer Farms, Ida-Spear Packing and Owyhee Produce.

He was preceded in death by his parents and also by his son, Randy. Mr. Froerer is survived by his wife of 65 years, Colleen; son Craig and Marla Froerer; daughter Robin and Jed Myers; daughter Sharla and Matt Richards; and 16 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren and numerous extended family members.

Services to honor his life and his many contributions to the area will be Tuesday, May 21, at 10:30 a.m. at the Nyssa Stake Center in Nyssa.

Born Sept. 19, 1931 in Brigham City, UT, to Owen Joseph Froerer and Bernice Bowden Froerer, Owen was one of four siblings. After the family moved to Vale, OR, he and his sisters, Ruth Froerer Chandler and Carol Froerer Carlson, as well as his brother, Ron, graduated from Vale High School.

While preparing to serve a mission for the LDS church, Mr. Froerer was drafted into the Army and served during the Korean War — but the day his transport boat landed in Korea, the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed. For the next 18 months, Mr. Froerer served to transport troops, equipment and supplies around the Korean peninsula as active combat decreased.

Returning from Korea, he married Colleen Bybee on Nov. 28, 1954, in the Salt Lake LDS Temple, and then began his farming career in the Treasure Valley. Mr. Froerer initially worked for his father-in-law, Shay Bybee, and also rented land to farm on his own.

As the years passed, Mr. Froerer and Colleen’s family grew to include Randy, Craig, Robin and Sharla, and a family tribute noted, “His young life centered on raising a family and growing his farming operation. Activities included exploring the Owyhee Desert and the Eagle Cap Mountains with his young family, his friends, and their young families.”

Always an adventure, Mr. Froerer obtained his private pilot license, allowing him to explore other areas with his family and friends. The tribute said, “Several trips to the Oregon coast, Mexico and the mountains of Idaho were made with his plane in between the work of farming.”

Horses were used on the farm when Mr. Froerer was a child, and throughout his life he maintained his love for riding and packing.

“He loved horse packing trips to destinations in the Eagle Cap Mountains of Oregon, the Imnaha River and Hells Canyon and did this often,” the tribute continued, “To celebrate his 80th birthday, he rode a horse into Hells Canyon several miles to elk camp and hunted with his son, daughter, a son-in-law, and two grandsons for several days before riding back out to get back to harvest duties.

“To be around him on these trips one could tell he had a great appreciation of the beauty of nature and the greatness of God’s creation.”
 
Although he was an avid adventurer, his “favorite activity was to work on the farm with his family,” it said. And throughout his long farming career, “his first partner Colleen” was the one to “steady and glue the whole group together.”

Making nearly 30 trips to Mexico over a 50-year span, the couple shared a love and appreciation for the country and often took the family to explore ancient ruins and to learn more about current customs and practices, and earlier this year he traveled with over 24 family members to see some of the archeological sites in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize.

Mr. Froerer was also an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and served in a Bishopric, the Stake High Council, Ward Missionary and several teaching positions throughout his life. His tribute concluded, “He lived a life with a great love of family, a great love to explore, a great love of Christ’s Gospel, and a great love of his country. He will be missed but never forgotten.”