John Oscar Thissell Sr., 71, died Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008, in John Day. He was surrounded in death, as in life, by his family.

He was the eldest of 10 children born July 10, 1937 in Tidewater to Vivian and Laurence Thissell.

Mr. Thissell was raised in Tidewater and Burns and spent his childhood working on the family farm and ranch. He was a skilled horseman, spending countless hours in the saddle pursuing game or gathering cattle.

After being drafted in 1955, he joined the United States Navy, serving two years of active duty on the USS Cavalier in the Asian-Pacific Ocean. Following his active service, he traded his cowboy boots for cork boots and began his life as a timber feller.

On July 11, 1959 he married the "lightening to his thunder," Sally Jane Ray. Together they raised their four children in the Tidewater-Waldport area.

Never outgrowing his youthful grin, he was an avid outdoorsman, who loved nothing more than recreating with his family and friends. He relished his time at the Alsea Riverbank and covered many miles on his four-wheeler in the Steens Mountains, Silvies and Juniper units. His ashes will be spread near his childhood home on the Silvies River, where he taught his children and grandchildren to fish with willow poles.

He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Cecil Thissell and Lynn Thissell.

Survivors include his siblings, Larry Thissell, Kathleen Woosley, Irene Adair, Marge Woosley, Barbara Fredricks, Shirley Larson and Donna Helms; his children, Johnny Oscar Thissell Jr., Barry Joe Thissell, Laurence James Thissell and Kathryna Sue Weatherspoon; 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

He was a man of few words, who possessed a steadfast work ethic and a streak of stubbornness. He will be fondly remembered, greatly missed and always loved by his family.

A celebration of life will be held at Driskill Memorial Chapel, 241 S. Canyon Blvd. in John Day, 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. A reception will follow the service.

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