Robert Wayne Lathrop was the 12th of 13 children born to Louis and Hazel Lathrop. He grew up on the Lathrop family homestead in the Leap Country north of Enterprise. He attended school in the Leap one-room school house and would be the last class to graduate from the school as an eighth grader in 1944. He attended Enterprise High School and graduated in 1948. Even as a young man, in the Leap country he was legendary for his mechanical abilities and how he could keep all the worn-out equipment running for the Lathrops and the neighbors.
Upon graduation from high school he would help his brothers Shorty and Duke with their cattle ranches on the remote Snake River. He would be drafted into the Army in 1951 and serve in Korea as a forward observer for most of 1952. He would recall how the enemy could attack in swarms and the awful devastation he could bring down on them, especially when calling fire for the ships off the coast.
Upon discharge from the Army, he farmed and ranched with his brothers and shear sheep on the Marvin Lovell crew — a man Wayne held in great regard because his work ethic equaled that of his own. In 1954, he married Jo-Ann Markham and they farmed and ranched. They moved to Enterprise and bought acreage in 1962 and Wayne went to work for the Wallowa County Grain Growers. Wayne would find his gift as a mechanic for the Grain Growers and no such thing existed —a Johnny that wouldn’t pop or a baler that wouldn’t tie — in Wallowa County. Wayne had a very loyal customer base among farmers and ranchers in Wallowa County for many years.
After retiring from the Grain Growers, he expanded his cattle herd significantly and pursued his real passion of raising cattle. He would continue to raise cattle into his 80s and especially enjoyed the time he spent on his Crow Creek property.
Wayne was a member of the Grange, Stockgrowers and Elks club. He was also a long time Little League coach and Cub Scout leader.
Wayne was proceeded in death by his wife Jo-Ann, six brothers Quentin, Ollis (Jiggs), Leo (Tuff), Harold (Shorty), Emra (Duke) and Melvin five sisters Muriel, Gladys Yost, Marian Bowen, Marcel Walker and Sally Akin. He is survived by one sister Mary Lou Huffman, three sons Jeff (Nancy), Scott (Ruby), Mick (Kelli); one daughter Betsy, four grand children, numerous great grandchildren and a very special niece and nephew in John and Darlene Pithoud.
Memorial contributions can be made to Wallowa County Senior Meals in care of Community Connection, 702 NW First Street, Enterprise.
Celebration of his life will be held Saturday Jan 12 at 1 p.m. at the Bollman Funeral Home with private interment at the Enterprise Cemetery. Reception to follow at the Cloverleaf Hall in Enterprise. Bollman Funeral Home entrusted with arrangements.