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Ron Reimann, Washington farmer and water rights advocate, dies in collision

Pasco, Wash., farmer Ron Reimann, who died July 30 in a collision, is remembered for his efforts to protect water rights for growers. He was also one of 12 original board members on the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association and served as its president for the last eight years.
Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Published on August 2, 2017 11:11AM

Ron Reimann

Courtesy of T&R Farms

Ron Reimann


Eastern Washington farmer Ron Reimann believed in protecting growers’ water rights, those who knew him say.

Reimann, 74, died July 30 when his side-by-side off-road vehicle was struck by a 2001 Chrysler van on a road near Kahlotus, Wash., according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

Reimann was one of 12 original board members for the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association and a leader of the Washington State Potato Commission. He was also a commissioner for the Port of Pasco.

Reimann served as president of the irrigators association for the last eight years.

“Irrigated agriculture throughout Washington state is in much better shape as a result of his work,” said Darryll Olsen, board representative of the irrigators association.

The association blocked efforts to reduce water rights for growers on the state and federal level, Olsen said.

“He had such an overpowering sense of justice and fairness,” Olsen said. “He acted that way towards people, but he expected people to be protected as well.”

Reimann served as chairman for the potato commission from 1994 to 1996 and remained active in the group, commission executive director Chris Voigt said.

“I loved being in the same room with Ron,” Voigt said. “He was fun, he was boisterous, he was smart, he was passionate, he was a true leader. Everyone listened closely when Ron spoke. He would participate in our long-range planning summits and would always provide insightful comments. And he never stopped learning. He would absorb new information and quickly use it in his decision-making process. He was the model leader that every executive director dreams about having on his or her board. Ron was full of life, full of energy. We in the agriculture community will miss him.”

While Reimann was a great leader for the commission, Voigt believes his legacy will be water.

“He took great pride in making food on his farm and understood the value of irrigation for our country’s food security,” Voigt said.

Reimann was active in Farm Bureau and other organizations and commissions, his brother-in-law, Ralph “Porky” Thomsen, said.

Thomsen partnered with Reimann to form T&R Farms in 1968. The farm originated in Moses Lake and later moved to Pasco. The farm includes apple orchards, potatoes, wheat, peas, field corn and sweet corn on 6,000 acres.

Reimann had a great sense of humor, Thomsen said.

“He usually stimulated people he was talking to to think,” he said. “He was pretty well-known as being a devil’s advocate: Let’s work together to get this problem solved. I think that’s a real talent.”

“How he treated people, that’s how he thought they all should be treated,” Olsen said. “You don’t see that very often. That’s a rare characteristic in people.”

The collision is still under investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.

Reimann is survived by his wife, Rella, son, Reid, and granddaughter Anastasia.

Graveside services will be noon Aug. 8 at City View Cemetery in Pasco. A memorial service will be 2 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Pasco Red Lion.



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