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Retired Groundskeeper

Greg Oveson, 67, of Wallowa, was one of a set of twins born to Anne and Crawford Oveson of Wallowa. He also had three sisters. His father taught school at Wallowa and Lostine for 35 years while building a ranch on Dougherty Loop Road. His mother was a ranch wife and sat on the Wallowa County Planning Commission.

Greg graduated from Wallowa High and went on to Eastern Oregon College for a degree in secondary education with a physical education minor — a degree that came in handy when he coached basketball and football in Wallowa and Elgin for 32 years.

Greg came back to the family ranch after graduating from college and worked with his dad and his twin brother, Jeff, for 19 years until his father died. Greg left the ranch when it was clear the ranch couldn’t support two growing families and went to work for Jones Excavating in Lostine. He stayed for 12 years. Then, in 1998-99, he began his own business, Eastern Oregon Concrete, which he managed until it sold in 2011.

He was semi-retired, working as groundskeeper for Alpine Meadows Golf Course where he has been a member for somewhere north of 28 years until this week.

As of Tuesday, he’s fully retired — not from golf playing, of course, he’ll keep swinging his clubs.

He met his wife, Evamarie Douglas, in 1982 when she came up from Los Angeles with family in the summers. Her grandfather was former U.S. Chief Justice William O. Douglas, who built cabins up the Lostine River.

As Greg recalls, they first met at Merle Hawkins’ Lapover Pack Station. They married in 1985 and have been married for 32 years –– about to be 33 years in December. They have three children: twin girls Mysha and Linique and son Kaleb.

Evamarie is a caseworker for Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness.

Greg never got tired of working with kids in sports. “I love working with little kids. They’re interesting,” he said.

Q. Why live in Wallowa County?

A. When I was 21, I couldn’t wait to get away. When I was 25 I couldn’t wait to get back. It’s just something that, especially if you grow up here, you feel like you’re stuck in a hole but all of a sudden you realize, it’s the best hole you’ve ever been in. And what a great place to raise kids. I think people who grew up here and stayed here, monetarily they’re going to be behind when you retire, but the value of the lifestyle you’ve had has been well worth it.

Q. What has Wallowa County taught you?

A. Perseverance. There are disadvantages of being here, but for people who’ve lived here all their lives like me, we figure out ways to make it work. We’ve seen a lot of changes, and trying to change with it has been hard on us, but we’ve figured out a way to do it.

Q. Can you recall a book you read as a child that really had an impact and can you recommend a book you’ve read recently?

A. That’s a tough one because I read a lot when I was young. I really can’t pinpoint one. My mother was big on getting us to read. I haven’t read a book lately. I read the news on my phone in the morning, and I do watch movies. I like old movies from the ‘40s and ‘50s and WW II movies interest me because my dad and a couple of uncles served. I don’t think we have any idea what that was like. My favorite movies are “Star Wars” and the “Indiana Jones” movies.


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