For Richard Rollin Packer—Rollie to his friends and family—that single drawn-out syllable was the cue that this tall, quiet man with trademark silver hair and beard had been listening, digesting, and mulling the conversation, and was now ready to interject a nugget of wisdom. An incisive nugget borne from a witty, compassionate, loving mind well versed in science, investments, and current events.
Born April 13, 1939, in North Platte, Nebraska, Rollie died on March 20, 2023, in Happy Valley, Oregon. He was 83.
As a young child, Rollie lived for a time in a railroad boxcar with orange crates for furniture before moving to a farm west of Loup City. A tall, thin young man, he participated in football, basketball and track in high school, graduating from Loup City High School in 1957. He then attended Wayne State College and earned a BS in Education. And while his measured, thoughtful manner may have been ideal as a teacher, his career path led him to microbiology and medical technology. In fact, while working with the Clinical Microbiology Institute, he was credited with scientific research papers published in prestigious journals including Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
In 1963, Rollie married Eunice Schroeder, and in 1964 they moved to the Portland area where they raised their three children, Mary, Erika, and Cory. Rollie loved the outdoors, hiking, camping, mushrooming, and cross-country skiing. He loved music, playing autoharp, and singing in the church choir.
Rollie and Betsy Schwalbe were married in 1986, and with their children grown, they were able to enjoy their love of travel, with trips to Japan, Norway, Europe, Africa, and Mexico, journeys around the United States, and mountain-climbing excursions in the Pacific Northwest.
Rollie retired in 1995, and his “second career” included farming Christmas trees, and founding the Clackamas County chapter of Love, Inc., an organization formed to care for the practical and spiritual needs of local communities. He followed his Trail Blazers, Green Bay Packers, and Nebraska Cornhuskers closely, played golf with family and friends, and enjoyed working with his hands. Among his varied interests, Rollie enjoyed a particular passion for architecture, first designing a home in Zig Zag and later a vacation home at Crooked River Ranch, where he enjoyed a cup of coffee while soaking up the sun with Betsy.
In recent years, as he fought diminishing eyesight, Rollie and Betsy fiercely clung to their independence, looking after each other as they moved from their home and into assisted living. And in the end, one of his last concerns was that his wife was cared for. He must have known the end was near.
Rollie is survived by his wife, Betsy; children from his blended family, Mary (Brad), Erika (Phil), Cory (Michelle), Krista (Todd), and Mindy (Rich); sister Regis (Dick) and brother Stanley (Sue); 11 grandchildren and four nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his former wife, Eunice.
The family gratefully requests remembrances in Rollie’s name to Love Inc. of Clackamas County, www.clackamasloveinc.org/give.html.
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