A year of great loss — In Memoriam

Among other things, 2019 was a year of tremendous loss for Keizer. Pioneers and boosters from every corner of the city passed away in 2019. Here are just a few of the most notable offered in memorial:

Jerry McGee

For nearly four decades, it was virtually impossible to have any involvement in the city of Keizer without running into Dr. Jerry McGee. 

McGee, a former Keizer city councilor among other roles too numerous to list, passed away after a battle with cancer in January. McGee’s legacy as a statesman in city hall is still brought up routinely during city meetings. Others will remember him as one of the foremost local historians of Pacific Northwest.

Among his somewhat-lesser-known accomplishments were stints as a champion for disability rights, special education and even time as the director of the Oregon State Mental Hospital. 

Ted Anagnos

Whether it was the football field, baseball diamond or basketball court, the booming rasp of Ted Anagnos’s voice was as unmissable as it was a fixture of Celtic sports for more than two decades. 

Anagnos, a lifelong coach with a side gig as an investment advisor, died in April after a brief and intense battle with cancer. Anagnos focused on high school students, but his impact was felt throughout the community as a Keizer Rotarian and financial backer of efforts of large and small. 

“There were dozens of kids got into school or got through school and who wouldn’t be the people they are today without him,” said longtime friend Craig Nicholas. 

Dennis Koho

Dennis Koho, a former Keizer mayor and city councilor, died suddenly in June after a long period of declining health. 

As an attorney, Koho often worked pro bono for Keizer-based organizations seeking a firmer legal footing. As a local politician, he led the charge to bring the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes to the city. 

“Dennis chose to give himself to the betterment of our city and community both through his determined leadership and profound friendships,” said Mayor Cathy Clark. 

Dr. Vern Casterline

Vern Casterline was Keizer’s first doctor and the first team doctor for a generation of McNary High School athletes. He passed away in October at the age of 103. 

He started his career in medicine as an orderly at a hospital near where he grew up. He shared an office with dentist Dr. Jerry Bowerly on River Road for years before retiring in 1986. He, along with several others, founded the Keizer Merchants Association, the precursor to the Keizer Chamber of Commerce. 

When Keizertimes asked him about the secret to longevity, Casterline quipped, “Pick good ancestors.”

Ray & Louise Boucher

Ray and Louise Boucher opened Keizer’s first jewelry store in 1950. Ray passed away on October 12 and Louise followed on October 21. 

At the time they opened the store, Keizer was mostly fields and orchards. To keep the business afloat, the couple offered free beef with purchases. It led to Keizer tradition for a while. The Bouchers were married for 66 years. 

Boucher’s Jewelers remains a staple of the local community. Sons Jeff and Steve now own the business. 

Dr. Jerry Bowerly

Jerry Bowerly met his longtime friend Vern Casterline through a cousin. The two worked out a business plan and opened Keizer’s first medical-dental office with a pharmacy to boot. 

As a Navy reserve officer, Bowerly provided dentistry services to fellow veterans one night a week in Salem. He was a charter member of the Keizer Lions, the first president of the Keizer Art Association and an active member and leader in his church. 

Bowerly, who passed away in October at the age of 99, remained active throughout his life. He water skied until the age of 74 and snow skied until age 84. 

Greg Frank

Greg Frank led the Keizer Fire District for 17 years as chief, he joined the district as a volunteer nine years before that. He passed away in November after a long battle with cancer. 

Frank moved to Keizer to work with his parents at their hardware store, he joined the fire district as a volunteer not long afterward. He remembered fondly the days of riding on the back of fire trucks. After retiring from the fire service in 2007, he took over the operations of the hardware stores his family still owned in Keizer and West Salem. 

Frank was a former Keizer First Citizen and a longtime member and past president of the Rotary Club of Keizer.