“There’s nothing Ron can’t do,” says Trudy Jett, wife of Ron.
Ron Jett, 74, of Joseph was born in Cushing, Okla., on his grandma’s back porch. He was the second of three children. His dad was in the oil business, and his mother was a banker.
He loved small-town Oklahoma, graduated from Hominy High School and went into the military. He worked for American Airlines until 1966 when he departed for the Marshall Islands to work on aircraft for Global Associates.
His next chapter was in law enforcement — he spent nine and a half years with the California Highway Patrol, where his extended family’s obsession with big road bikes came in handy.
During that time, in 1969, he went on a blind date with a very pretty blonde gal — and married her a year later.
Ron and Trudy have a daughter Chantay Jett of Enterprise.
They stayed in California until Chantay was seven, but even though they lived in a small, unincorporated area, the crime in California was scary. Wallowa County was recommended.
Halfway down Minam Grade the fog lifted and they saw a herd of elk and deer and Ron said, “Okay, this is more like it.”
Eventually Wallowa County Sheriff Jody Williamson offered him a job as a resident deputy.
The difference between law enforcement in California and deputy in Joseph was “like dying and going to heaven,” he said.
He became undersheriff a year later and stayed in that position for 12 years before becoming Sheriff in 1996.
Trudy, who was working as a UPS driver had her legs crushed in a horrific accident in 1996, resulting in three years on crutches and 20 years of yearly operations.
After four years as sheriff while simultaneously taking care of Trudy, Ron retired.
Trudy is able to walk again. She’s an avid cook and home food preserver and loves to give back to her community. Ron and Trudy can be counted on to help neighbors and also write checks for the Center for Wellness, the food bank, Joseph High School and many more nonprofits in the area.
Q. Sounds like you fell in love at first sight with Wallowa County. What are the best qualities of the county?
A. We came for a better life for our child — we knew we had made the right choice when our daughter walked home from school with a friend and said, “Mamma, no one was mean to me.” Wallowa County reminds me so much of where I grew up. Big cities are not what they’re cracked up to be — too many rats in the shoe box.
Q. What has Wallowa County taught you?
A. With honesty, integrity and hard work you can make it in Wallowa County. The people are gold here. These people are genuine. These people give back — everyone gives here.
Q. What was the first book you can recall checking out from the library for yourself, and can you recommend a book you’ve read recently?
A. Do you know how many years ago that was? I recall a book that struck me and taught me you could do anything you set your mind to: “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach. A recent book I really liked was “The Story of Beautiful Girl,” by Rachel Simon. Trudy read that aloud to me. Both books are either available or available by order at The Bookloft in Enterprise.