Marvin Lee Jess died at home in Diamond, Ore., on July 30 after a period of ill health, with his family in attendance, at the age of 91.
Marvin was born in Winchester, Idaho, to John and Lola (Jobe) Jess on June 2, 1928. He grew up there and in Craigmont and Grangeville before the family moved to Harney County, where he attended Crane High School.
Marvin joined the US Navy, where he obtained his GED and was baptized in the Episcopalian faith, and served in the Korean conflict. Returning to Harney County, he worked on the ranch with his stepfather, Bob Gill, in the Diamond Valley. In 1955, he married Dovie Payne, and the two moved to property on the north side of the valley, where they built their house, cleared the land, and raised their children. Marvin went to work for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a heavy equipment operator; he retired from the refuge after thirty-five years of service.
Marvin and Dovie reared three children: Terry of Albany (Richard Engeman), Shirley Hughes of Princeton, and Andrea Davies (Martin) of Princeton. Survivors include Dovie, the three children, and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, as well as his sister Tyke McLean of Burns. Marvin was predeceased by his parents, his sister Iris Penton, and his brother Joseph Gill.
Marvin was a lifelong avid reader with wide-ranging interests, including Western history and novels. He cultivated a remarkable garden for many years, tended cheerful flocks of chickens, enjoyed fishing at Fish Lake and on the Steens, and was an accomplished game hunter. An amateur naturalist, he knew and appreciated the wildflowers and bird life that surrounded him. He was also a talented and accomplished mechanic who often lent a helping hand to his friends and neighbors.
Marvin appreciated the starlit sky over Diamond, and he admired the grace of the sandhill Crane and each year anticipated their return to Harney County. On the morning of his death, perhaps as a tribute to him, three cranes flew low over the house.
The family wishes to extend its heartfelt gratitude to the many citizens of Harney County who have extended kindnesses, assistance, and aid to Marvin during his sojourn here. Marvin was also deeply grateful for his lifelong friendship with Terry Perkins of Texas, a former Navy colleague and confidant.
At his direction, no service will be held. Arrangements were made through La Follette’s Chapel in Burns, Ore. The family is arranging a private tribute at a later date. Those who wish to make a contribution in Marvin’s honor may do so to the Harney County Library Foundation, 80 West D Street, Burns, Ore. 97720-1226.