Tom Waterland

Died: Mon., Dec. 25, 2017


1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Thu., Jan. 04, 2018
Location: Burns Mortuary

Funeral Service

11:00 AM Fri., Jan. 05, 2018
Location: Peace Lutheran Church


2:00 PM Fri., Jan. 05, 2018
Location: Olney Cemetery

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Thomas George Waterland was born on April 24, 1928, in Camp Crook, South Dakota to his parents, Luther Theodore Waterland (Lute) and Kate Irene (Hahn) Waterland.  The family lived in Capital, Montana where his father raised sheep.  Tom lost his mother when he was very young, so he was raised by his father, his grandmother, and an aunt.  Tom’s job at a very young age was to help with the raising of the sheep.  When summer came, and it was time to take the sheep to their grazing place, his dad and his uncle would build a shack, cut an opening for a window and a door, and Tom and his brother, Ted, would stay there for the summer.  Dad always told of the summer he was eleven when he and his seven- year- old brother, Ted, killed 18 rattle snakes.  His dad and uncle would take food to the boys every few days and make sure they were okay.  When shearing time came, Tom would help with the shearing, a job he detested, and was the deciding factor as to why he later went to college.  He wanted nothing to do with being a sheep farmer.

      Listening to some of the childhood stories Dad told, it is amazing that he lived to see his teen years.  He got stuck in holes, fell out of trees, jumped (maybe fell) off roof-tops, all the things he forbade his children to do.  There was the time he told about riding on the fender of his uncle’s car in the dark holding a flashlight so they could see the road because the head lights wouldn’t work. Or the time that he decided he wanted to be a doctor.  His younger sister, Wanda, was his first patient.  After discovering the problem was her nose, Tom got a piece of barbed wire, stuck it in her nose and gave it a twist.   Or there was the time they went to school and the teacher thought Wanda had the measles and she had to tell her that Tom had poked her in the face with the bristles of a broom.  Back then, children were truly raised by the community.  If you got in trouble at school or at a neighbor’s, you got switched and when you got home, you got switched again.  Dad told of a time when he accidently broke a window at a neighbor’s.  He got switched by the neighbor and his dad switched him again when he got home, and he had to earn the money to fix the broken window.

     The family left the farm and moved to Ekalaka, Montana where his father became the sheriff of Carter County, a job Tom greatly admired.  He attended school in Ekalaka where he worked on the school paper and played football, two activities he thoroughly enjoyed.  School work wasn’t a high priority and Dad told of the time when he wrote on a test that he “hadn’t studied and didn’t know” and the teacher “gave him a C for being honest”, or the time he didn’t study and didn’t know a single answer, so he wrote the teacher a poem.  He received an A for his creativity.  He certainly was a charmer.

     Dad graduated from high school in Ekalaka, Montana in 1947.  His plan was to marry his high school sweetheart, but his dad convinced him it wasn’t a good idea, that he needed to go to school, so off he went to college.  He struggled his first years in college.  His charm didn’t work for him there and he talked about having to take “bone-head” classes to learn what he should have learned in high school, especially in the areas of grammar and writing where it was more about usage and less about memorization. He was always good about memorizing facts as the sheriff department and attorneys can attest to, but said he didn’t know a noun from a verb and phrases and clauses only confused him.  It was in college where he developed his love of both grammar and writing, but he always said he had to work very hard to learn it. 

     Dad spent his summers working, a lot of jobs he hated, but he said he could always find work.  In 1949, he was working as a grease monkey in Upton, Wyoming.  It was there he met his soon-to-be wife, Margaret Sims, while she was working in a small café there.  They married in 1950 and moved to Belle Fouche, South Dakota.  Tom attended college in Spearfish.  At the same time, he worked to support his wife.  Sometime that year, they moved to Camp Crook, South Dakota where Tom taught school. Back then, he had acquired enough education to be a teacher.  He taught all grades in a one-room country school house.  It was that year that his first son, Richard Thomas, was born.  The next year, Tom accepted a teaching position in a one-room country school in Ekalaka, Montana.  That year, his father passed away.  Tom finished his year teaching in Ekalaka and decided to move his family to Billings, Montana so he could attend college at Eastern Montana College.  By this time, his daughter, Judi had been born. 

     For many years, Tom worked delivering bread to stores and restaurants for Ideal Bakery.  At the same time, he attended college, and had a part-time job as a receptionist at the Dude Rancher Lodge, a prestigious hotel in Billings.  He met lots of celebrity there.  While in Billlings, DiAnn and George were born.  Richard loved riding on the bread route with Dad.  Many times, he would go to work with him before 5:00 AM so he could help load the truck.  He knew where everything went in the truck.  Each thing they loaded had its own rack.  Richard loved to help Dad put it on shelves in the stores, too.    The rest of us just loved when Dad stopped by home, because we would run out to the bread truck and get donuts.  If it was a fight over what to get, Dad would let us have two boxes.  Guess how many boxes we soon learned to get?!

      The family lived in Billings, Montana until 1964.  We attended church at Messiah Lutheran Church where Dad taught Sunday School.  Every Sunday after church we would go to West Park Plaza where Mom and Dad would give us each our $1.00 allowance and we could spend it as we wished.  Sometimes we spent our dollars and sometimes we couldn’t find anything to buy.  DiAnn can remember a time when she had saved hers for a week, so she had $2.00 to spend.  She found the Paul McCartney Beatle doll for $.98.  Mom and Dad tried to talk her into forgoing her allowance for the next two weeks and buying all four of them.  DiAnn wouldn’t hear of it. She only liked and bought Paul McCartney.  She insists that that is the reason she is still poor today.  Dad never knew a stranger.  He visited with everyone at West Park Plaza.  Mom, Richard, DiAnn, and George would go one way, Dad and Judi another.  Judi was always in awe of the way her dad could talk to people and never tired of watching and listening to the many conversations—probably where she acquired her love for talking and the reason her children (and grandchildren) don’t like to go to Walmart with her!

      Tom loved learning and always said he would have been content to have a career as a full-time college student.  In 1964, he graduated from Eastern Montana State College with a Bachelors Degree in elementary education.  He applied for and accepted a job teaching remedial reading in Cody, Wyoming and during the summer of 1964, the family moved to Cody.  His sister, Wanda, was always telling him he needed to move to Oregon.  There were teaching jobs there.  Just as the family was settling in to life in Cody, Dad announced that he had accepted a teaching position at John Murray Junior High School and we would be moving to Pendleton, Oregon.  He was hired sight unseen after a telephone interview.  Before we knew it, we were loaded up and pulling a U-Haul trailer full of mostly books to Oregon. 

     Dad began his teaching career in Pendleton at John Murray Junior High in 1965.  For many years he taught social studies and English.  He had a love of both.  I remember a year he taught his students about communism.  He divided his class into groups of four and each group was given an assignment.  It was up to the group to decide how the components of the assignment would be divided up and completed, but it was understood that whatever grade was earned by the group would be the grade each member in the group received.  Before long, the high achievers complained that they had to do all the work and couldn’t get the low achievers to do anything and it wasn’t fair that they would all get the same grade.  They ended with a fairly good understanding of how communism worked, and they weren’t having it.  His students did pride themselves on their ability to get him talking about his police work, or other topics of discussion.  What many of them failed to figure out was that at the end of every off-topic discussion, they were given homework, the assignment they could have completed in class if they had chosen to work.

       While in Pendleton, two more children, Michelle (1968) and Michael (1974) were added to the family.  Tom loved his family.  He loved for his family to be together, even at times when he was working and couldn’t be there.  For many years, we camped at Hat Rock so that while he worked, Dad could stop by for lunch, or dinner, or just to visit for a while.  On one of these camping extravaganzas, the 4th of July to be exact, we set the bushes on fire with an Oregon legal spinner that spun out of control.  The group next to us helped us extinguish the fire, but took off when they saw an officer approaching.  We saw their arms moving frantically, and they kept looking at us and pointing.  It was obvious to us that they were ratting us out. They were dumb-struck when the officer sauntered up to our table and started eating fried chicken (his absolute favorite food) out of the cooler. 

For years, Dad complained that he had no grandchildren.  He was ecstatic when his first grandson, Ryan, was born, and ecstatic when each grandchild, great-grandchild, and great-great grandchild thereafter was presented.  Ryan was born on his father’s birthday, and the next grandchild, Lindsey, was born on his birthday.  Dad delighted in that, and I think they were the only grandchild birthdays he could remember on his own.  He used to say, “How do you remember their birthdays. I can’t even remember their names!”  All girls were often referred to as ‘sis’.   His children can attest to that as when calling to one of us, he often went down the list, “Dick, Judi, DiAnn, George, Shelley, Mike, whoever you are, get over here.”  The same names were said to the grandchildren.  Today, there are nine children, six natural children and three that he acquired through a special relationship, 22 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren. 

     At the same time that he was teaching, Dad started working for the Pilot Rock Police Department. He left there and went to work for the Umatilla County Sherriff’s department as a deputy.  During the summers, he also worked for the Corps of Engineers, patrolling the parks.  We always said he was a Barney Fife kind of officer as he often managed to get himself into some odd predicaments.  More times than can be counted, Dad would leave home without his gun.  He would call to have one of us meet him at whatever milepost he told us.  He never watched his gas tank and ran out of gas far more times than he forgot his gun.  One of us would take him gas.  This failure to watch his gas tank awarded him a plaque from the Sheriff’s Department that stated, “May all roads lead down-hill to a gas station.”  The Tom Waterland Blooper Award was created in his honor, and he was probably the only one who ever received it.  He formed relationships with the people he arrested that were beyond the imaginable.  There was a time when he was transporting three prisoners from Salem to the jail in Pendleton. During the ride, the three informed him that it had been so long since they had eaten anything other than jail food, that they wished they could have a hamburger.  Dad listened to their tales of woe, and when they arrived in Pendleton, he told them that if they would “mind their manners”, he would treat them to a meal at Ray’s Chicken House.  They assured him they would.   They sat around the table talking like old friends, got back in the patrol car when they were finished, and Dad drove them to jail.  Or, there was the time that Dad was transporting a young man to the jail in Pendleton.  Somewhere past Stanfield, they ran out gas.  Dad told the young man they had to walk back to get gas and asked him to not run as they would both be in trouble.  The young man carried the gas can to and from the gas station, trudging through the snow both directions.    A citizen apparently reported the empty patrol car parked along side the road and while on the way back to the car, Dad could hear dispatch trying to contact him, but he was unable to respond.  When they got to the car, Dad told the young man to put the gas in the tank while he called to see what they wanted.  The young man did as he was asked, got back in the car, and Dad took him to jail.  Or, there was the huge kegger he walked in on when he was alone.  Knowing he couldn’t stop it, he pulled a couple of guys he thought looked like leaders aside and told them he would be patrolling the road all night and he better not see even one car leave.  He also told them he would be back in the morning and he better not find any litter. When he went back the next morning, a crew was doing clean up.  Or, there was the time early in his career when he and Ed Nielson were patrolling together.  For who knows why, they were on Cabbage Hill headed toward Pendleton.  Ed was driving and on a spur of the moment, told Dad, “Watch this!”  Before Dad could stop him, Ed whipped onto the run-away-truck ramp and they sank deep into the sand.  There were no cell phones then, so they had to radio in to get out of that mess!  Or, there were the times when Dad would receive phone calls at home where the person on the other end was confessing to their sins and asking Dad what they needed to do.  There were times when Dad had the person who had committed a crime before a crime had even been reported! His philosophy was that respect breeds respect and his years as an officer were proof of that. 

     Dad was notorious for not calling dispatch to let them know where he was and what he was doing.  This awarded him a notice on the wall that stated, “You may know where you are and what you’re doing.  God may know where you are and what you’re doing.  But if your dispatcher doesn’t know where you are and what you’re doing, you better hope you and God are on good terms!!!”

     Dad retired from the school district in 1990.  When he did, because the county was also a PERS job, he could no longer work the hours he had been working.  That didn’t stop Dad from continuing his passion.  He worked for free!!  He continued to work summers for the Corps and could be paid for that.  The rest of the hours he donated.  He donated thousands of hours, and there were all those reports.  When he wrote reports, I swear, he wrote books!  He left nothing out.  He was such an honest man, that when attorneys asked him if he had a good case and he said he did, there was usually a plea bargain.

      Dad’s passion was the investigative work.  He was so good at getting confessions.  Judi swears he learned his interviewing skills from her.  He always said there were two things he couldn’t respect, a liar and a thief and both because they couldn’t be trusted.  His kids knew not to lie, but when a kid does what they aren’t supposed to, it’s because they felt like it, they wanted to.  There is no malicious thought behind the action.  But, how do you tell your dad, you felt like it?  So, Dad could ask, “Why did you do it, and for two hours, Judi could say, “I don’t know, Dad” with Dad responding, “You did it didn’t you?  You must have had some reason.”  In her head, Judi would be thinking, “because I felt like it” and wishing she could just get a spanking and go back outside because that’s where her friends already were by then, but the response would remain, “I don’t know, Dad”.  When Michelle was about ten, she was in the chair with Dad asking, “Why did you do it?”  Michelle was giving the correct “I don’t know” response.  Judi walked by and said, “Dad, she felt like it.  She did it because she felt like it.”  The look that crossed Michelle’s face was one of terror, but she nodded when Dad asked her if that was why she did it.  Dad looked at her and said, “Don’t do it again” and that was it!  She could go play.  Judi was shocked and said, “Do you mean all those years ago, if I had said I did it because I felt like it, that would have been it?  Just don’t do it again and I could go back out and play?!”  Dad said, “It would have been the truth.”  He was a stickler for the truth and while he might not like what a person did, he always respected the truth. 

     Tom and his wife separated in the late ‘80s.  His children, in times of need, took turns living with him off and on, and he was always happy to have us.  He loved the laughter of the little ones and would let them do things we weren’t allowed to do when we were kids.  When we would get after our kids, Dad would say, “They’re not hurting anything.  They’re just kids.  Leave them alone.”  Or if they were in trouble and crying, Dad would say, “Oh, just come and sit on Grandpa’s lap.”  One of Stacie’s memories is of Mike and Ryan picking on her as they often did.  She would scream or cry, and her grandpa would raise his voice and say, “Damn it you boys, leave her the hell alone!” followed by, “Sis, you just come and sit with your old grandpa.” They were the only curse words she ever heard him say. 

     In 2003, Dad reconnected with his high school sweetheart, Fern Levno who lived in Spokane.  They talked on the phone and visited when they could.  Sandy would bring her mother, Fern, to Hermiston where they would stay in a motel, so she and Dad could visit when he wasn’t working.  They found out they still had lots in common and the summer at the end of that year, Dad decided he would retire from his free job (although he was getting paid on the Corps) and move to Spokane.  Fern spent that last summer in Pendleton and every morning she would go with Dad to his job.  She spent many hours visiting with the people who camped on the beach while Dad patrolled.  In 2004, Dad and Fern moved to Spokane and he was there for eight happy years.  He enjoyed her children, Dan, Sandi, and Rick and grew to love them and their children as his own.

      Dad was very artistic, and the Christmas when he was 82, Fern gave him art lessons.  A favorite story that Fern liked to tell was one day, when he went to his lesson, there was a painting on an easel.  Dad looked at it and said, “Someday I hope to paint like that.”  The instructor looked at it and said, “Tom, that’s your painting.”  He painted several pictures and gave most of them away to anyone who admired them.  Sometimes, he took pictures off his wall and gave them away to whomever had said they liked it, always telling Fern, “I’ll paint you another one.”

     In 2012, Fern passed away and we brought Dad back to Pendleton to be close to family where we have taken turns caring for him, celebrating with him, and just loving him.  He will be so missed by all of us, and all of you who are reading this.  They say you can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed, and Dad planted a lot of seeds. 

We hope to get the stories of anyone who would like to share. 

The family Dad created

Richard Waterland

Judi Emerick (Jim Davis)

     Janie Boho (Wayne)---Cory (Chrissy)-Cadence, Ayden

                                             Desiree, Delaney

     Jennifer Williams (Pete)---Andrew, Alex

     Ryan Fullerton (Lora)---Ry, Gabe

     Stacie Garrison (Nick)---McKennin, Kaden, Madison, Kenslee

DiAnn Taylor

     Danielle Taylor (Martin)---Hannah, Brookynn, Marlee

     Chris Taylor, Chelsea Baker, Bruce Winker, Kaelee Martin

George Waterland (Deceased) (Karla)

      Lindsey Coiner (Austin)---Delainey, Griffin

      Jeff Waterland (Marcy) ---Wade

      Kyle Waterland (MaryPat) ---Hazel

      Kori Stump (Riley)---Harlow

Michelle Williams (Kandi)---Spencer (Violet)---Brianne, Espezan , Zariah

                                                  Mikaela (Chris), Tanner

Michael Waterland (Amanda)---Tyler, Shane, CeAnna, Irelynn, Trinity

Dan Swanson (Candy)

Sandi Collins (Chris)--Richelle (Stephen)---Desmond, Kayden, Grantley

Rick Swanson (Karen)

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