Cecil "Babe" RockAugust 19, 1927 ~ January 2, 2018 (age 90)
Cecil W. “Babe” Rock 1927-2018
“I was given the gift of life, and now I have to give it back. It’s hard, but I lived a good life. I enjoyed my family and have been many places; my favorites were England and Australia. I worked hard all my life and my motto was to, ‘Go like a Scalded Dog.’ I tried to instill good working habits in all my children and show them how to make a business out of nothing. I am, ‘The Scrap Iron King.’”
Babe passed away peacefully with family members by his side on January 2, 2018. His illness took all by surprise, as he was vibrant and active, save the last few days of his life. He was born August 19, 1927 to Cecil and Pearl Rock in Clarkston, Washington. Babe was the eldest of the four original Rock Brothers including Reg, Percy, and Stanley, plus a half-brother Clyde. Growing up, he used to ride his bicycle two miles one way to buy milk for his little brother, “Tanny,” at the age of only six years old while living in Richland, WA. He started driving at age eight, and was cooking and bucking hay at age nine. By his fifteenth birthday, he was escorting 1,200 fat lambs by rail to market in Chicago by himself. Alongside his childhood family, they ran the Rock Sheep Company until he was inducted into the Army in 1952 at the peak of the Korean War. He served stateside at Fort Roberts and Fort Lewis. Upon leaving active duty he returned to the farm in 1954. Being a part of the, “River Rats,” the Rock Boys farmed 11,000 acres along twelve miles of the Columbia River, East of Roosevelt, WA. In 1955, he hired a local cowgirl from Whitcomb, to help on the farm. He robbed the cradle when he married Ora DeElva Robbins (his Deedlebug), on May 31, 1957. Back then, she didn’t know how to boil water, so he taught her how to cook and make sheepherders coffee. They left the river in 1964, as the waters of the John Day Dam consumed their ranches. After farming in Hermiston for six years, Babe went to work for Lampson Railroad Contractors. As foreman for Byron “Spike” Lampson, they hauled all the mainline pipe for the major irrigation projects in the Columbia Basin. These included Prior Land (Agri-Northwest) and SimTag (RDO). Being a natural mechanic and hard worker, he began to develop an interest in center pivot irrigation. In 1978, he started Irrigon Irrigation with his sons, which later morphed into Rock Enterprises. He and his crews installed literally hundreds of center pivots and turn-key projects throughout the Pacific Northwest. Babe was known by all as an expert in his field, and a guy that would literally give the shirt of his back. He was particularly known as a hard worker who never complained. Simply put, he was, “Old School.” He loved farm equipment, big trucks, and getting the job done right.
He was a loving husband, father, papa, grandfather, brother, and friend. He is survived by his wife and companion of 60 years Ora DeElva (Dee), brother and wife Stanley and Martha Rock, daughter and husband Tammie and Brad Williams, three sons and their wives, Cecil and Sabrina Rock, Rick and Jan Rock, and Donnie Rock. Papa Babe had eleven grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren: Dustin, Tyler, JoDee, Nikolos, Chelsea, Mallory, Megan, Logan, Braden, AudriAnna, Brooke, plus Eve and Claire. Brother and Sister in-laws, some of whom, he took in and raised and others, whom he provided loving advice: Dortha and Bud, Linda and Ed, Jayne and Monty, Vickie and Rocky. Babe touched many lives and the list of friends would consume the entirety of today’s copy, but we would like to acknowledge his pal Bear Dog who faithfully stood by his side; and his friend, Arturo Ortega Sr. who has done so much for our family over the years. Babe never met a stranger he didn’t get along with, and was always bringing someone to the house for supper or a place to stay.
Please join us for a, “Rock Family Dinner,” as he looks down from heaven and enjoys the celebration of his life. The celebration will be at the top floor of the Echo City Hall in Echo, OR at Five o’clock in the evening of Saturday, January 6 to share memories and stories together with family and friends. We will welcome all stories and memories from family, friends and his many loyal customers.
Donations on Babes behalf may be submitted to the City of Irrigon Enhancement Fund.
Please sign the online condolence book at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon is in care of arrangements.