LOSTINE — A retired physician, Rusty Woods has lived outside of Lostine for the past five years and can’t think of any place he’d rather live.
He formerly worked for a company that provides smaller hospitals with emergency room doctors, and has lived in Wallowa County since 1992. He also practiced at Wallowa Memorial Hospital in Enterprise for about 20 years.
“I called them up and said, ‘I’m not a fan of big cities, but if you’d like, I can go see your littler places.’ They said, ‘That’s our boy.’ So I went all over the place.”
As he traveled around, he scouted the region for a place to settle.
“Wasn’t sure where I wanted to live and every place was too crowded,” he said.
He and his partner, Linda Wafford, had friends near Bend. As he scouted around, eventually he came to visit Wallowa County where some friends had moved.
Woods and Wafford fell in love with the area, particularly the lack of population.
Now 71, he’s been retired since his mid-60s.
“I loved my job, but it got so it was taking all my energy,” he said. “I’d come home and hit the sack about 7 p.m. I never knew being a doctor took energy until I started running out of it.”
He recently shared his thoughts on living in the county.
What’s your New Year’s resolution?
I’ll do a little more reading and a little less playing with an iPad.
Have you broken the resolution yet?
Oh, yeah. Within an hour I was diddling around. My ankle went out on me so I couldn’t do chores for a couple of days.
What’s your hope for the new year?
Same that it’s always been — that countries will learn to get along with each other. I couldn’t be happier, but then this COVID thing came up. We had considered flying to Hawaii and then didn’t because we didn’t know how bad this virus was. When we returned and crossed the Wallowa County line, a great weight lifted off my shoulders.
Are you going to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can? Some people are hesitant.
No, I’m going to wait and see. My living situation — it’s just the two of us on the farm. We’re pretty isolated. When I come to town, I try to wear a mask and all that.
— By Bill Bradshaw, Wallowa County Chieftain