Eldon I. Hutchins, 90, Lewiston

     Eldon I. Hutchins was born Jan. 29, 1921, at Tofield, Alberta, Canada, to Loid and Maud Hutchins, who were United States citizens. He was the youngest of nine children, and was one of a very limited number of people who could legally claim dual citizenship. He passed away on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, at his home in Lewiston, surrounded by his family.
     He married Lela Jean Wilson July 19, 1941, at Lewiston, and they began their married life in Seattle where he was employed. They celebrated their 67th anniversary prior to her passing in 2008. They have been described as a dynamic couple who had a zest for life and adventure.
     Eldon enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943. During the time he spent on board the transport ship to India, he and three other men formed a quartet and entertained the troops on-board as well as for many U.S.O. shows. He served in the China-Burma-India Theatre during World War II. He was an air electrical specialist in the 381st Air Squadron and was stationed in Tespir, India, in the Upper Asam Valley, where he was responsible for maintaining all electrical systems on base, as well as all airplanes using the base during the war. He was honorably discharged from service in 1946 and returned to Weippe, where he worked in the woods as a logger.
     He owned the Weippe Restaurant and Service Station, was a partner in H & W Mercantile, owned General Sales and Service in Weippe and Kamiah, and built and operated the first television cable systems in Headquarters, Pierce, Weippe, Kamiah and Nezperce in the early days of TV. He was involved in community affairs. He and his family spent five summers in Alaska commercial salmon fishing. After the fishing season ended, they spent the rest of the summer making wildlife and adventure movies. During the winter months, he would travel throughout the Western states with film lectures in the Armchair Adventure Series. His movie, “Land of the Midnight Sun,” was shown on Public Broadcasting Service, and he had pictures and articles published in the Alaska Sportsman and Outdoor Life. He was an active member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
     After losing his vision in his late 70s, he was able to devote more time to his lifelong passion for writing stories and poetry. He published four books, including poetry and old-time stories, and had a fifth one almost ready for publication. Since 2000, he lived with his daughter who was constantly there for him day and night. With all the hardships he experienced, with his blindness and illness, he never once complained or uttered a harsh word.
     He is survived by his three children, his daughter and son-in-law of Grangeville; his son and daughter-in-law of Kennewick; and his daughter and son-in-law of Lewiston; nine grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; one sister-in-law and spouse of Weippe; one brother-in-law and spouse of Lewiston; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, and eight siblings.
     The family wishes to thank the doctor whose kindness and care, over and above what was required, made his life so much better in his final years.
     A memorial service will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Lewiston Seventh-day Adventist Church, with a graveside service at 4 p.m. at the Weippe Cemetery. A covered-dish dinner will follow at 4:30 p.m. at the Weippe Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall hosted by the Rebekah Lodge.

The Lewiston Tribune, September 25, 2011, p. 5C
Transcribed by Jill Leonard Nock

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