News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

In Memoriam: Irvin Philip Wessel (Oct. 3, 1938 – Jan. 15, 2024)

Irvin passed away Monday, January 15, 2024 after a short illness that complicated his long-standing issues from a laryngotomy 15 years ago. He was 85 years old and a walking miracle, having had his surgery videos used to train surgeons worldwide how to successfully treat esophageal cancer.

He was born to Grace Marie King Wessel and Philip Andrew Wessel in Ute, Iowa, the youngest of four children. He attended schools in Moorehead, Iowa and later, Lincoln NE, where the family had moved.

He joined the Navy at age 17, serving until age 21. He was on the USS Cavalier, a troop transport ship out of San Diego. It was after the Korean conflict, and he sailed the SE Asian Seas four times. It was in the Navy he learned to never stop moving or give up, a motto he lived until one week prior to death.

He met his future wife, Donna Jean McElravy at Fleet Week in Portland, OR in June 1959. They were married December 10, 1965 in Reno and had been married 58 years.

Irvin lived in Salem and worked with his brother-in-law, Dick Highberger, building Sunnyside Campers, and later owned Go Guys Gulf Station on 13th and Mission St. from 1968-1970. He later worked for Redman Homes in Silverton prior to becoming disabled due to cancer.

Irvin and Donna accumulated several older homes that he would fix up and use as rental properties for their retirement.

He eventually built a home on the Santiam River in Gates for him and Donna to retire in. Sadly, after 22 years, it burned down in the 2020 Beachie Creek Fire on Labor Day in Gates, OR. They were forced to move back to Salem and have lived in retirement facilities since then.

In 2015, Irvin and Donna received the Citizen of the Year Award for their many years as supporters of the Canyon Senior Center and the Community.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Philip and Grace Wessel, oldest sister Marjorie Hanson of Salem, Brother Duane Wessel of Lincoln, NE, sons Michael Manley of Portland and Daniel Graham of Anchorage, AK, granddaughter Jennie Pointer Everetts of Turner, OR, and great-grandson Rex Pointer of Longview ,WA.

He is survived by wife Donna of Salem, sister Norma Jean Highberger of Salem, daughter and son-in-law Sharon and James Pointer of Monmouth, OR, sons Patrick Manley and Jeff Obert and daughter-in-law Kim McBryde of Albany, OR. Five grandchildren, seven great-grandsons and one great-great-grandson. Also several nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.

He was a member of Mill City Eagles and formerly Mill City Senior Center, and attended Gates Community Church.

Services are pending and will be announced at a later date.

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