Roy Linwood Fox lost his battle with old age on March 8, 2019, eleven days before his 98th birthday. He was born on March 19, 1921 in Winner, South Dakota, the third son of Luther Leroy and Lorena (Wilmoth) Fox. As a child, he barely survived a fire that burned down the family home. He was subsequently raised in the back room of the family plumbing business, and he graduated from Winner High School in 1939.
Roy was smitten with a local girl, Avis Marlene DeBuhr, who made it clear his romantic overtures were unwelcome unless he earned a college degree. Accordingly, he enrolled in the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, in Rapid City, and worked his way through school with a variety of interesting jobs such as cleaning the restrooms in a filling station in exchange for a room in the basement.
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Roy felt the odds of his local draft board allowing him to finish school were low. He volunteered to enlist in the Navy hoping his experience in the family business would allow him to enter the service above the lowest rank. He was surprised when the Navy enrolled him in an officer training program and told him to finish his civil engineering degree. He graduated in 1943 and shipped out for Guam after completing Midshipmen's School.
Roy served as an engineer and officer in the 49th and 134th Naval Construction Battalions (Seabees) and spent most of the war building large aircraft hangers for the bombers flying missions to the Japanese mainland. He was discharged in 1946 and promptly married Avis in Madison, Wisconsin. He worked the following three decades in various engineering and management positions with the federal Soil Conservation Service in Terry, Montana; Rock Springs, Wyoming; and Albany, Salem and Portland, Oregon. He retired in 1977 as the State Conservation Engineer having designed and overseen the construction of dams and irrigation projects throughout Oregon.
Roy was a registered engineer and land surveyor who maintained his original South Dakota engineering registration throughout his retirement years. He also served as an officer in the US Naval Reserve until 1964, retiring as a Lieutenant. In 2018, Roy was honored to travel to Washington D.C. on a Journey of Heroes (for World War II veterans), sponsored by Wish of a Lifetime and the Vital Life Foundation.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, Roy was a dedicated family man, faithfully married to Avis for 57 years. Roy and Avis were blessed with four children: Lana, Pamela, John, and Amy, along with nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Roy was active in many organizations including the Episcopal Church, Toastmasters International, Association of NW Steelheaders, Federation of Fly Fishers, American Society of Civil Engineers, Masons, and Elks. He enjoyed tinkering, doing a wide variety of automotive and home repairs himself, and building furniture. He had a special love of fishing and spent many days in his retirement stalking salmon and steelhead on coastal rivers, especially the Wilson River, his favorite.
In 1994 Roy and Avis relocated from Portland to South Salem to be closer to family. They spent many happy days together with their children and grandchildren. Following Avis’ death in 2003 at age 80, Roy began volunteering in the computer room at the South Salem Senior Center.
In 2017, due to declining health, Roy moved to the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon where he made many new friends among the residents and staff. The family is grateful for the excellent care he received there.
Roy was laid to rest with his beloved Avis in a private interment at Willamette National Cemetery on March 15, 2019. He requested that no public memorial service be held. Memorial contributions may be made to the Association of NW Steelheaders nwsteelheaders.org/donate/.
Guest Book Entries
Roy was enjoyed by many people at the South Salem Senior Center and he will be remembered fondly. We could talk endlessly about just about anything. Roger Brousseau