Curtis Eugene Hinkle Sr., of Hermiston Oregon, was born November 15, 1928 in Barnsdall Oklahoma. Curt was the fifth of nine children born to King Anderson and Katie Bell Hinkle. He was the surviving sibling of his family and went home peacefully to join our Lord and his heavenly family on May 31, 2018, in Hermiston.
Curt spent his youth in Oklahoma working on the family farm before venturing out on his own at a young age. He spent many years following the harvests from Arizona to the Dakotas and taking jobs in between so he could send money home to his family. Looking for a better life, the Hinkle family moved to Wilder Idaho to join Katie Bell’s family. Curt later joined them before entering the United States Army. Though his desire was to fight for his country in the Korean War, his leadership potential did not go unnoticed during basic training in Ft. Carson, CO. He was stationed at Headquarters Special Troops Command in Ft. Benning, GA to train new recruits until his honorable discharge in 1953. Curt was a Sargent with the 30th Infantry Regiment Company F. Before leaving for the army, he met Irene Kuck and they wed in 1951 and four children were born of that marriage; Viola Tiegs of Spokane, WA; Curtis Eugene “Gene” (Kay Lynn) Hinkle Jr. of Boise, ID; Sherrill (Rod) Lane Moody of Cottage Lake, WA; and Lisa (Tom) Lappe of Dell MT. Curt and Irene later parted ways.
Curt’s younger family years were spent water skiing, fishing and camping, horseback riding with friends and family at various lakes in Idaho as well as road trip vacations touring all the states that he traveled to while working as a young man. While living in Caldwell Idaho, Curt was a member and active volunteer leader of the Canyon County Mounted Sheriff’s Posse, as well as the Caldwell Rodeo Club. He later joined the Jefferson County Mounted Sheriff’s Posse and the Bonneville County Mounted Sheriff’s Posse while living in Idaho Falls. Curt was never one to brag, but his family, especially his grandkids, now realize the important duties bestowed to him during his time with the Mounted Sheriff’s Posse. His love and passion for horses was deeply rooted and it brought him great joy that his daughter Lisa and family continue to share his passion. The last time Curt rode a horse was with her in Montana, a time that Lisa treasures.
Curt married Barbara Riggan on March 12, 1977 in Idaho Falls, ID. Barbara brought three kids into the union; Bret Riggan of Salmon, ID, Shelly (James) Allred of Rigby, ID, and Bette (Con) Higley of Kennewick, WA. When asked how many children he had, Curt would proudly say seven and could accurately recite all their birthdates. This tradition continued to include 14 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. Curt and Barb throughout their 41 years of marriage shared their love for horses and riding in the posse together, going on trail rides, as well as snowmobiling, hunting, camping, fishing, traveling in their motorhome, and lots of golf.
Curt started his working career with the JR Simplot Company in Caldwell Idaho in 1953 at the age of 25. Curt’s leadership abilities and exceptional work ethic resulted in plant management positions in Caldwell and Idaho Falls and ultimately brought Curt and Barbara to Hermiston OR in 1980 as the production manager of the Hermiston plant. Curt retired in 1987 after proudly working for Simplot for 35 years. Curt was given a retirement book comprised of letters and cards from fellow-workers wishing him well in his retirement. Phrases written in the book included “such a hardworking man,” “would come to check-on things at all hours of the day or night,” “Curt helped me through some of the toughest times of my life,” “I knew I could always count on Curt,” “Curt was my boss, my mentor, my friend,” “there are no shoes big enough to fill Curt’s.” One phrase that explained Curt’s deep knowledge of his job was “there was the right way, the wrong way, and the Hinkle way.”
Shortly before retirement, Curt developed a passion for golf. This new adventure may have been sparked by the friendly heckling he received while wearing his cowboy boots with shorts during an Elks golf tournament. But nonetheless, Curt and Barb took to the greens and in 1985 they both traded in their cowboy boots for golf shoes and moved into a townhouse on the Umatilla golf course. Their sliding glass door was always open and beverages were always available for the many friends who would stop in to say hello.
Curt was recognized as a Life Time Member of The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. His love and dedication for the Elks started in Caldwell Idaho and remained until his passing. He was the Exalted Ruler of the Hermiston Lodge in 1984 and 1985 and held various chairs throughout the years. Curt was never shy about volunteering, coordinating and participating in the Elks’ activities, from family BBQs, golf tournaments, Easter Services, Mother’s Day Services, the Purple Ball and the Elks’ Hoop Shoot, to name a few. One Elks sponsored activity that was especially dear to Curt was the Elks Meadowood Speech Camp. Curt was instrumental in organizing the Hermiston lodge’s sponsored activities benefiting the camp, and in June 2013 Curt’s dedication was recognized through the Elks Meadowood Hall of Fame.
Curt was an active outdoorsman and enjoyed spending time with family and friends. He was never a man to sit still for long indoors and was always working on countless projects from building a camper or remodeling his home, usually with a good friend by his side. Preparing a meal for his family or friends brought Curt great joy. Whether it was his famous chili, salmon on the barbeque, Thanksgiving turkey, or Dutch oven stew up in the hills hunting. Nothing pleased Curt more than helping and doing for others. This strong characteristic remained true, even during his last days, worrying about others.
Curt didn’t know a stranger, lived life to the fullest and never forgot his humble beginnings. His greatest pride was his children and their families. His friends, who are many, would probably describe him as a man who would give you the shirt off his back and then buy you a beverage of choice. Curt was also a “wheeler and dealer” and was always on the lookout for a “good deal”. Barb learned to never get too attached to a car or a horse as she knew it wouldn’t be long before Curt would come home with a new one for her.
Fulfilling Curt’s wish, a celebration of life will be held in his honor at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, June 16, 2018, at the Hermiston Elks Lodge, 480 E Main Street, Hermiston, OR. Military honors will be given by the American Legion and VFW and a social gathering will follow. In memory of Curtis Hinkle and in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Camp Meadowood Springs, PO Box 1025, Pendleton Oregon, 97801 or www.meadowoodsprings.org or to your local Humane Society.
Please sign the online condolence book at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon is in care of arrangements.