Lindy Dentinger is among the 2019 Vale Alumni Association Hall of Fame honorees. (The Enterprise/Joe Siess)
VALE – The year was 1933, and Lindy Dentinger, co-owner of Dentinger Feed & Seed, had just come to town with his parents around the Fourth of July. The family was in awe of the huge crowds and Dentinger, then 5, got lost among the throngs.
The Malheur County sheriff at the time, Charles Glenn, had to bring young Dentinger back home to his parents.
Fast forward through the years, and Dentinger is to be inducted into the Vale Alumni Association Hall of Fame at the association’s banquet on Saturday, Oct. 26.
Nominees were selected if they had an outstanding career, did work to put Vale on the map, or dedicated a notable amount of effort and time in the community.
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Dentinger checks all of the boxes, and through a lifetime of hard work and service to his community, he created a legacy.
In 1938, Dentinger’s father Stanley founded Dentinger Feed & Seed, which at the time was located were the Umpqua Bank currently stands in Vale.
By the time high school rolled around, Dentinger was immersed in the world of sports.
Dentinger was in the boxing club one year, but played both football and basketball for most of his high school career.
“I enjoyed them all. Because if I wasn’t playing football or basketball or something, I had to go to work,” Dentinger said with a burst of laughter.
Donita Olsen, Dentinger’s daughter, sat on a leather recliner in the living room across from her father, and said that the joke in the family for a long time was that Dentinger would always say, “I wasn’t a great athlete, but I was a good one.”
Dentinger loved sports in high school, but the reason he played so much of them was to get out of having to heave hefty dusty sacks of grain.
After graduating from Vale, he started working at the store more often. One time, some of his friends were talking about going off to college, and Dentinger brought up the subject with his father.
His father’s response?
“Who is going to pay for it?”
The next day, Dentinger got up, and went right back to work at the feed store and that was the end of the discussion.
Dentinger said that he didn’t know what he wanted to study in college, just that he wanted to get out of having to work at the store.
“What did I enjoy most about high school?” Dentinger said, looking into the distance as he thought of a good answer. “Well, I didn’t have to go to work,” he said again, laughing.
At the time, Dentinger worked for his dad and the job was hard and backbreaking.
He ducked out for four years, serving in the Air Force during the Korean War in what he considered pretty much a vacation in comparison.
“It was a hell of a lot easier,” Dentinger said. “The Air Force was actually easy. At home I had to work my butt off.”
In 1950, at the age of 22, Dentinger enlisted in the Air Force and was sent to South Korea where he was stationed for one year.
Dentinger was deployed overseas with a few of his high school friends from Vale, and ended up working as a secretary for a high-ranking individual. Given his job position, enlistees would treat him well because they thought he had some pull with the higher-up.
“They did treat me real good. Or talked to me real good,” Dentinger recalled.
After Korea, Dentinger came home and eventually took over the family business, and that is when things changed for Dentinger Feed & Seed.
Rick Dentinger, Dentinger’s son and co-owner of the business, said that when Dentinger and his older brother, Gale, eventually took over the business in 1965, it flourished.
“One thing about my father is that they can trust him. And when he gave his word, his word was just as good as it being written down on a contract,” Rick Dentinger said.
“That’s why the feed store is so successful today. Because of him,” he added.
Despite how much Dentinger disliked working at the Feed & Seed as a young man, when he finally got his hands on the company, he created a legacy.
The store was on Morton Street where it remained until the building burned down in 2017. The store is currently in the Olsen Lumber and Paint Store on Washington Street.
In addition to the various other things Dentinger has involved himself in over the years, he was the commander for the American Legion, and at one time he was the president of the Vale Chamber of Commerce.
As far as advice for students at Vale High School, Dentinger, a man of few words, made his words count.
“Stay out of trouble,” Dentinger said with a grin. When questioned about how much trouble he got into while in school, Dentinger shook his head and said, “I better not talk about that.”
Flipping through pictures in the year book from 1947, the year he graduated from Vale, Dentinger burst out laughing when asked if he ever participated in the in the chorus. “I wasn’t… I’d like to, but I couldn’t even carry a tune.”
Many times, Dentinger has said, “I am so happy that I have lived my life in Vale. It’s a wonderful place to be.”
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