Gary Niemi was born on March 21, 1943, in Astoria, Oregon to Harold and Lillian Niemi. He passed away peacefully in his home in Westport, Oregon on July 9, 2021 at the age of 78.
He met the love of his life, Helen Nygaard, when he was a freshman at Astoria High School in 1957. Gary was always a hard worker and paid his own way through college by helping his dad in his machine shop, longshoring and logging for his future brother-in-law, Martin. He was always resourceful. While just getting by in college, one side of his suitcase read: “ASTORIA TO OSU” and the other side “OSU TO ASTORIA.” He married Helen in 1965 and graduated from Oregon State University in 1966 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After college Gary accepted a job with The Boeing Co. in Seattle and they moved to Bellevue, Washington.
His love for hunting and fishing drew him to Sitka, Alaska in 1969 where he worked at Alaska Lumber & Pulp Mill. As much as Gary loved Alaska, family always came first, and they moved back to Oregon with their three children in 1973 to be closer to family and friends. Helen and Gary raised their three children in Westport where he worked at the Wauna Paper Mill until retiring in 2004. He made a lot of good friends at the mill. Gary was a repeat champion in the mill’s annual pool tournament and a member of their bowling team.
He built their dream home on the Columbia River in 2007 and was able to stay there enjoying a view of the great Columbia River until his passing. He always enjoyed anything family related, especially attending sporting events for his kids and grandkids, hunting and fishing. He spent 20 years making an annual elk hunting trip to Idaho with his sons, son-in-law, brothers and many close family friends. He was a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Clatskanie.
He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Helen Nygaard Niemi; brother Dennis; half sister Judy Wiley and three children: Sean, Erika and Andrew and their spouses: Heather, Miles and Kristin and eight grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his dad; mom; and brother Warren. His ashes will be spread at the family Duck Shack where he loved spending time with friends and family. Gary will be missed; his welcoming personality and love will be cherished by the many lives that he touched.
Donations may be made in his honor to Faith Lutheran Church in Clatskanie or to Lower Columbia Hospice in Astoria.
Please join family and friends for an open gathering at 5:30 p.m. on Fri., Aug. 6, 2021 at the Clatskanie City Park.