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Obituary: Wayne C. MacGregor, 91, Grangeville, Idaho

Wayne MacGregor

Wayne MacGregor

— Wayne C. MacGregor Jr., 91, a longtime resident of Grangeville, Idaho, died May 21, 2017, surrounded by his children.

Wayne was born May 27, 1925, in Spokane, Wash., to Wayne C. and Estella Smith MacGregor. He was raised in Spokane and graduated from North Central High School in May of 1943, where he excelled academically and as an athlete, especially football.

After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army reporting for active duty on Aug. 16, 1943. Wayne eventually earned the rank of sergeant, of an infantry squad, 77th Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry Combat Team. Wayne was a scout who led advanced patrols into enemy territory. He was wounded by grenade shrapnel and by machine gun fire and was awarded two Purple Hearts with a “V” for Valor, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge; two Bronze Stars for combat bravery; the Bronze Arrowhead (for five combat beachhead assaults); five Campaign Battle Stars and participated in the Occupation of Japan.

Wayne was honorably discharged from the Army on Dec. 19, 1945. After returning to civilian life, Wayne used the benefits offered to veterans through the G.I. Bill and pursued a college education. In January of 1946, Wayne began his studies at the University of Idaho in Moscow. Over the next seven years he obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting and his Juris Doctorate, graduating in 1952 from the University of Idaho, College of Law. While an undergraduate he was a proud member of the men’s fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, and during law school he was a member of the law honor society, Alpha Theta Phi. During his college years Wayne spent his summers in the woods, employed as a sawyer, bull gang, powder man’s helper, jackhammer operator, choker setter, and as a hooker on the railroad flatcar landings for Potlatch Forest Industries. He often described the work as the hardest he had ever done. Shortly after graduating from law school Wayne met his lifelong love, Nancy Walenta, the daughter of his favorite law professor, Dr. Thomas Rex Walenta. Wayne and Nancy were married Sept. 12, 1953, in Moscow, Idaho at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

Wayne moved Nancy to Grangeville, where he had been elected to serve as the Idaho County Prosecuting Attorney, a position he retained until 1965. During 1954, 1955 and 1957 he was appointed by the Attorney General of the State of Idaho, Graydon Smith, to act as Special Deputy Attorney General. In that capacity, he represented the State of Idaho in appellate cases set before the Idaho Supreme Court. From 1957-1964 Wayne was appointed as a municipal city judge for the City of Grangeville serving as a magistrate. Wayne was president of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorney Association in 1959, and president of the Clearwater Bar Association from 1953-1957. Wayne was the Idaho County Public Defender from 1985-1991. Wayne was a member of the Idaho State Bar (member, Criminal Code Revision Committee, 1958-1962); the American Bar Association and received the highest ranking from the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, “AV Preeminent”. Wayne was an active trial attorney and argued 32 cases in the Idaho Supreme Court. On two occasions, he argued three cases in one day, two in the morning and one in the afternoon.

In 1977, Wayne and William J. Dee formed the law partnership of “Dee and MacGregor”. They continued a very successful law practice until Dee’s untimely death in 1996. Thereafter, Wayne formed a partnership with his son, Kirk A. MacGregor, and was an active partner until his death.

In June 2003, the Idaho State Bar Association awarded Wayne the “Professionalism Award.” This award represents respect and commendation from his professional peers and is one of the highest honors an Idaho attorney might receive in their career.

In July 2017, Wayne would have been recognized at the Idaho State Bar’s Annual Conference for his 65 years as a licensed, practicing attorney.

Wayne loved the practice of law and continued his practice well into what most attorneys consider their retirement years. He cherished all the many friendships he established along the way. Wayne was an active member of the Grangeville Elks Lodge; Grangeville Jaycees; Grangeville Gun Club; Grangeville Country Club; St’s Peter and Paul Catholic Church; (all of his children attended Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School). Wayne was a 4th Degree Knight and active in the Knights of Columbus; American Legion, where he was a past State Advocate; Veterans of Foreign Wars and also served on the board of advisors to St. Gertrude’s College for several years.

In 2001 and 2002 Wayne wrote his personal memoir, describing his early life growing up in Spokane during the Depression, and also his experiences as a soldier in the U.S. Army during World War II. In 2002 Washington State University Press published his memoir titled “Through These Portals, a Pacific War Saga”.

In 2004, Time-Warner offered Wayne’s book as the “Military Book of the Month”. For several years, Wayne’s book was a required textbook for a class titled “World War II in the Pacific” offered at Washington State University and Gonzaga University. Wayne was also asked to personally present lectures for such classes at both universities. Wayne’s book was video transcribed and broadcast on the Idaho and Washington public television stations. In 2013, Wayne was contacted by the National Museum of the U.S. Army which was under construction at Fort Belvoir, near Washington D.C. Wayne gave his permission for the museum to use several quotes from his book in a video that is now regularly shown in the WWII gallery of the museum.

In 2009 Wayne was named to a “List of 50" prestigious attorneys who were to be interviewed to gather “their thoughts and memories” through “oral histories of the most prominent lawyers and judges in Idaho.” Wayne’s oral history interview, and his book “Through These Portals, a Pacific War Saga”, are both housed at the Idaho Historical Society’s Public Archives and Research Library in Boise, Idaho, and available for review at these locations.

Wayne’s greatest joy came from his children whom he also considered to be his highest achievement. Wayne’s interests were in whatever his children were involved with and he loved being their no. 1 fan. Wayne loved being a father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He loved his family beyond measure with his whole heart and soul. Wayne loved taking his children with him on business trips, which his children remember fondly to this day. Wayne loved the outdoors, and in his younger years enjoyed camping, fishing, golfing, bird hunting, trap-shooting and took many back-country horseback trips, usually to the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana. Wayne loved taking his family on summer vacations, most often to Glacier National Park, which held a special spot in his heart. It was during these trips that Wayne would sing songs and share countless stories about early explorers and mountain frontiersmen. Wayne loved spoiling his wife and children with shopping trips. He would sit for countless hours watching as they tried on the latest trends.

Wayne was an avid collector of western art and loved traveling with his wife and children to art shows in Montana. He enjoyed maintaining his beautiful yard and his children and grandchildren remember being perched for hours behind him on his riding lawn mower.

Wayne is preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Nancy; sister, Joyce Wilson; brothers-in- law, Roesch Fitzgerald, Don Wilson and Jerry Dahlgren; and nephew, Tom Fitzgerald.

He is survived by his sister, Norma Dahlgren, of Lewiston, Idaho, sister-in-law, Donna Jo Fitzgerald, of Nampa, Idaho; his children, Shawnna Stockton, of Boise; Molly (Roger) Cole, of Moscow; Bridget Baker, of Marlton, N. J.; Kirk (Beth) MacGregor, of Grangeville; Cathleen (Jon) Irby and Leslie (Dean) Diffin, both of Meridian, Idaho. Grandchildren - Stefanie (Mike) Guy, Nancy (Connor) McCracken; Ricky (Sheera) Baker; Sean (Christine) Baker; Lauren (Danny) McFarland; Keely and Maximus MacGregor; Rex and Ruth Irby; Sophia, Grace and Margaret (Maggie) Diffin. In addition, he is survived by five great grandchildren - Genevieve and Grantham Guy; Joey and Danny McFarland and Francis Baker. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews - Chris (Cynda) Beeson of Boise, Shelli MacGregor (Rudi) Liedle of British Columbia; Doug (Donna) Dahlgren and Ted (Jan) Dahlgren both of Clarkston, Wash.; Ann (Brian) Jones; Bill Fitzgerald of Nampa and Paul (Kayann) Fitzgerald of Kirkland, Wash. and his beloved service dog, Hamilton.

Wayne encouraged and assisted all of his children to obtain higher degrees. He was incredibly proud of the accomplishments of each of his children. The most important things in Wayne’s life were “family, duty, honor.” He often said the best advice he gave to his children was “to be kind to everyone”. This was a virtue he practiced daily. Wayne taught his family to respect all people, work hard and be appreciative for all that they have. Wayne is described by many as a man of great integrity and lived his life with honor, discipline and compassion.

Our Dad was the epitome of a gentleman; his quick wit and wisdom captured every audience. He had the most generous heart and gracious spirit. We want to borrow some words from the poet William Auden: “Dad was our North, our South, our East and West, our working week, our Sunday best, our noon, our midnight, our talk, our song. Dad would say to us, “Don’t say goodbye, let’s just say, so long.” So, Dad, we simply say, “So long!”

A public viewing will be held Thursday, June 1, 2017, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Blackmer Funeral Home in Grangeville. A rosary will be held Friday, June 2, 2017, at 7 p.m., at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Grangeville. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School Gym, Saturday, June 3, 2017, at 11 a.m. Burial will take place at the Prairie View Cemetery in Grangeville. Arrangements are under the direction of Blackmer Funeral Home. Flowers are a welcome contribution and may be sent to Blackmer Funeral Home.


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