Merlin Glen Cassens was born on November 2, 1951, in Pendleton, Oregon. He died on April 14, 2023, at his home in Hermiston, Oregon, with wife Jan & son Joey by his side at the age of 71 years.
Merlin was the second child to Roland D. "Rolly" Cassens & Shirley Lenhart. Merlin was very proud of his Hermiston Heritage! Shirley’s father & Uncle had homesteaded Hermiston in 1907, & Rolly and his dad came to Hermiston in 1941. Merlin had 3 sisters, eldest Laura, younger twins Carol & Connie, and later the family adopted Tim Cassens. The family built Rolly’s Roller Rink in 1964, in their horse pasture! Merlin could skate circles around anyone!
Merlin loved horses, so growing up in the Sage Riders, at 15, he took up Relay Racing and his favorite, the Pony Express, where he showed off to the delight of the crowd, bouncing from one side to the other down the track from the age of 15, at Local County Fairs & the Pendleton Round Up!! At the age of 16, he rode his horse through Hale’s Tavern, later to learn there was a basement, so was not such a clever idea! Merlin had no fear & also rode Bareback, Bulls, & Saddle Broncs in County Fairs around the area. He was the youngest Sage Riders President at 23 years old!
Merlin attended Hermiston High School, graduating in 1970. He then joined the Army in 1970 & became an Army Medic. Receiving orders to Vietnam, he boarded a plane with his ambulance. On arrival, they were ordered not to deplane, but instead received wounded that they cared for enroute to Ramstein Airbase, Germany. He spent the rest of his tour in Europe, one of his favorite duty stations was being assigned to the USO touring Rodeos!
On his return home, he found that Rolly had sold the Skating Rink, so he bought it back, renaming it Holiday Rollerina, which he owned for 11 years. It was family owned & operated for almost 23 years, on East Main St. He along with his 5- & 7-year-old kids, roller skated with 40 other skaters to Pendleton raising money for Muscular Dystrophy (Jerry’s Kids). Skating down Reith Ridge on I-84, Merlin was clocked doing 45 mph wearing rocket skates by a passing Motorcycle.
In 1972 he went to work for the US Army Corps of Engineers at McNary Dam in Resources, then trained to become an Iron Worker Rigger, a position he held until his retirement in 2007.
He met Sandy, they married in 1973, later divorcing. Together, they had 2 children, Joey & Jonnie Sue. Merlin loved teaching them to skate, hunt, fish, and even started Feathers & Fur at the Umatilla County Fair with the kids. The family also had a Greenhouse business, as well as a Dance Studio at one time.
In 1989, he met the love of his life, Jan Rogers-Wilson in Garibaldi, OR. They married later. In their 33 years together, they took on many adventures. First Man/Woman Walleye Tournament Team on the Columbia River, teaching her to hunt, joining the American Red Cross & then on his retirement joining the USACE Rehired Annuitant Program where they did 21 deployments between the two groups, sometimes 3 weeks, sometimes 3 months!
Merlin was a Charter Member of the Irrigon Moose Lodge, helping to start the Lodge in 1997. He held many different Offices & Chairs in the Lodge, District, Moose Legion, & OMA Board. In June 2018, he was honored to receive the highest degree as a Pilgrim in the House of God in Mooseheart, IL.
He will be missed by everyone who knew him!
Merlin is survived by his wife, Jan Cassens of Hermiston; Children: Joey (Sarah) Cassens, Jonnie Sue Cassens, Stepchildren: Lynn Geistweidt, Russell (Suzanne) Wilson, Sisters: Laura (Karl) Baxter; Carol (George) Wells; Connie (Bill) Ford; Tim Cassens. Grandchildren, Gaige Cassens, Tyler Geistweidt, Macey Geistweidt, numerous cousins, nieces, nephews,
No Funeral Service will be held.
A local Celebration of Life service will be planned for a later date. We will also hold another Celebration of Life in Portland honoring his Moose Pilgrim later.
Please share memories of Merlin with his family at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon is in care of arrangements.
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