John M. Rehm
May 13, 1951 - June 7, 2020
John Rehm, a lover of his adopted State of Oregon, passed away on June 7 after a short battle with cancer.
With his many interests—music, the outdoors, the world underneath our feet, trains, the sport of rowing, cartooning, writing, and more—and his faith and his devotion to his family, John’s 69 years were a life well-lived.
Born in Patterson, N.J., John spent his boyhood and attended school in Basking Ridge, N.J., a town that he loved and that remained a touchstone for him throughout his life. Among his fondest memories was singing Christmas carols in Basking Ridge each year. He graduated from Ridge High School in 1969.
He started at Lafayette College that fall intending to major in economics. By the following year, he had discovered two passions that would define much of his school days and his next 50 years: the sport of crew and geology. He loved nature as it was expressed not only in a beautiful vista, but also as it could be seen in layers of sedimentary rocks that we pass every day without a thought. And so, he became a geology major, graduating in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree. In addition to playing trumpet in the school’s marching band, John helped start the college’s crew club. He remembered Lafayette as a great experience and maintained a relationship with the school throughout his life.
John’s generosity included passing on his knowledge and experience. His time as a rower in college made him an enthusiastic advocate for the sport and how it bonded teammates to a common goal. He continued to have many years of involvement with the sport as a founder and coach of the Western Oregon University rowing team. A lifelong scout himself, John participated in Boy Scouts with both of his sons. He loved teaching Boy Scout skills and held virtually every leadership position at one time or another.
After working as a geologist with an engineering firm in New York, John attended Rutgers University, where he completed a Master of Science in geology. Those years also produced another life-changing event when he met his future spouse, Betsy McCue. They were married at Rutgers on Sept. 2, 1978.
In 1980 John and Betsy moved to Oklahoma, where he began working as a geologist for Gulf Oil, initially in oil and gas production and then in enhanced recovery. Their first two children, Jonathan and Catherine, came along during the next few years. Daniel arrived several years later. A position as a hydrogeologist at Oregon Water Resources Department brought the family to Salem, Oregon. John later worked as a field geologist and hydrologist at the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Willamette National Forest, and the U.S. Forest Service.
In addition, in 1992, he began consulting under the name Rehm Geological, conducting field work and producing geological reports and mapping for rural home owners, farmers, citizens' groups, and commercial enterprises. In an age of computer-assisted everything, his hand-drawn sketches and maps are a treasure. He also did stints as a mudlogging geologist in the oil formations in Texas and North Dakota.
As a family man, he never missed one of the kid's games and always had time to play with the kids (his own, neighborhood kids, any kids). He taught them all to play tennis and shared his love of fly-fishing, especially on Oregon’s North Santiam River.
Kind, personable, cheerful, and with an inquisitive, free-ranging mind, John could build a rapport with virtually anyone. No friend was too rich or poor for him. They were all just friends. Energetic, sometimes to a fault, he could be too much for the people around him at times, but those same people still loved him. John’s passing leaves a sad void in the lives of many.
Surviving John are his wife of nearly 42 years, Betsy McCue Rehm; their three children, Jonathan, Catherine and Daniel, all of Salem, Oregon; and two brothers. He was preceded in death by his parents, Edna (Lange) Rehm and John M. Rehm, Sr.
John, thank you for being our friend. You will be missed, but not forgotten, always bringing us happy thoughts of your laugh and smile.
Due to the pandemic, a celebration of John's life has not been scheduled.
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