OBITUARY: Gerald Allen “Jerry” Erstrom

Gerald “Jerry” Erstrom

January 16, 1949- January 21, 2021

 Gerald Allen “Jerry” Erstrom, 72, of Vale, Oregon, passed away peacefully with his daughter by his side, from COVID-19 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Nampa, Idaho.

He was born on Jan. 16, 1949, to Swede and MaryAnn Erstrom in Ontario, Oregon.  He was the oldest of three children.  Jerry was raised in Willowcreek, Oregon, on the family farm with his sister Kathy and brother Pat. He went to elementary school in Jaimeson, Oregon and graduated high school in Vale, Class of ‘67.  While in high school he participated in football and track and was a member of several state and district championship teams.

 After high school, he spent a great deal of quality time with the Dentinger family. He soon found himself having multiple adventures with his lifelong friends Ray Smith and Ron Patnode. 

Jerry worked for the U.S. Forest Service, and then began his career with the Bureau of Land Management.  He worked in Fire, and upon his retirement from there went to his legacy of “Weed Czar.” This expanded Jerry’s circle across the country.  He was part of weed boards, soil and water conservation boards, and other multiple groups to improve farm and wildlife habitat.  He served 20 years with the Vale Oregon Irrigation District, spearheading over 100 miles of irrigation pipeline, 20 years of service on the Oregon State Weed Board and obtained over $3.6 million dollars in watershed grants for the Lower Willowcreek Working Group and Malheur Watershed Council.  He was recognized with awards such as: 2010 Leadership in Conservation Award, and International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage- Innovative Farmer WATSAVE Award (2011).  Jerry made two trips to Washington D.C.  to lobby on the Hill for noxious weed programs support and funding for both Oregon and the western states.

Jerry married Audrey Mallea in 1973, and spent many, many years trapping and hunting with his mother and father-in-law in the Owyhee Mountain area.  Many winter nights were spent in the valley grocery and later the “fur shack” in Jordan Valley, stretching, brushing, and preparing hides for the annual sales.

Jerry and Audrey had two children, Niki and Mike.  They raised their family in Vale.  He followed his children to any and all activities and taught them to work with him on the farm.  He and Mike spent many hours trapping and hunting together.  He and Niki had their own adventures, and he named her his “#1 babysitter”.  It was a full-time job.

Jerry had friends everywhere and special relationships that meant the world to him, but no job was more important to him than being a grandpa and “UJ”.  He would walk through fire for his grandchildren and great-nephews and left no wish unfulfilled. Alex, Courtney, Brennan, Trevor and Owen knew that Grandpa Jerry was good for a hug, a joke, a treat, or basically anything they wanted.  He also loved to include his “honorary granddaughter”, Melissa, in any adventure that he was taking with Alex. He loved to grab his special buddy, Kayden, to take him riding around to make sure everything on the farm was running correctly, going to make sure all was running smoothly with the popcorn machine at the Co-Op, or to skin an unlucky badger. The parents of the grandchildren would be informed, “well, I will just ask Grandpa” when they had the audacity to tell their children no.  Jerry would light up when any of his grandchildren had any activity or accomplishment, and had no problem bragging about them to everyone he saw. 

 Jerry is survived by his children, Niki (Jared) Cutler of Ontario and Mike Erstrom of Soldotna, Alaska; grandchildren; Courtney (Kaleb) Erntson, Alex and Brennan Cutler, Trevor Witthus, and Owen Erstrom; siblings Pat (Rhonda) Erstrom of Vale and Kathy (Tony) Sabus of Hayden Lake, Idaho; along with cousins, nieces, nephews, greats, and all those he adopted along the way.  There was room in his heart for them all. Jerry was preceded in death by his parents and grandparents.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to something that was very near and dear to Jerry’s heart: Vale Community Coalition, 1280 John Day Hwy, Vale OR 97918.  This is the Vale Fireworks fund that Jerry helped sponsored yearly and is a big part of the Vale community.

Graveside services will take place at Valleyview Cemetery Vale, Oregon on Friday, Jan. 29 at 10 a.m.  Jerry passed away due to COVID-19.  Out of respect for the family, we are requesting all attendees to wear masks and socially distance.  If unable to do so, please stay in the vehicle. Arrangements are under the direction of the Nampa Funeral Home, Yraguen Chapel where an online guest book and full obituary is available at www.nampafuneralhome.com

LEARN HOW TO PLACE AN OBITUARY: Contact Autumn Butler, Enterprise office manager, at [email protected] or call 514-473-3377.