Virgil Lewis Choate, a long-time FFA teacher, banker and agriculture advocate in The Dalles, Ore., passed away peacefully at home on Aug. 14, 2019, after a short illness. He was 84.

He was born March 5, 1935, in La Grande, Ore., to Virgil Albert Choate and Louise Wetzel Choate.

He graduated from La Grande High School in 1953 and from Oregon State College in 1958 with a degree in agricultural education. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

In college he joined the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, which shaped his life in many ways throughout the years. It was at the fraternity that he developed life-long special friendships. After a short time on active duty in the Army, Virg came to The Dalles to teach vocational agriculture and serve as the FFA (Future Farmers of America) chapter advisor.

It was there he met his future bride, a fellow teacher, Carolyn. During the time he was teaching, one of his students was elected state president of the Oregon FFA Association and The Dalles was selected to host the state FFA convention. Several of his students/FFA members achieved the State Farmer Degree, the highest degree awarded to only a small number of members in the state. One student and FFA member received the highest honor at the national level.

Virg was also the first Vo-Ag instructor in Oregon to allow girls in his classes before they were allowed to be members of the FFA. He so loved teaching and cherished his relationship with each student. He was so dedicated to his students that he neglected to keep up with the U.S. Army correspondence classes and thus became the oldest 2nd Lieutenant in the Army.

Virg remained involved with high school activities by running the down marker at TDHS Friday Night Lights home football games for nearly 40 years.

In 1966, Virg began a 30-year career with U.S. Bank as an agricultural representative. He so loved working with the agricultural community and helping them with their needs.

In 1995, Virg began working part-time for Columbia River Bank and then Columbia Bank until the age of 84. He cherished the relationships built with bank customers and his many co-workers over the years.

Virg was the last living officer of the original officers of the Ft. Dalles Days Rodeo. He was a long-time treasurer of the Wasco County Livestock Association. He was active for many years in the wheat industry and served for several years as the general manager of the Oregon Wheat Growers League Junior Livestock Show. He was also active for years at the Wasco County Fair.

He was a member of The Dalles Lions Club and Elks Club for over 50 years. He was selected as the grand marshal for the Wasco County Fair (1993), as well as the grand marshal for the Fort Dalles Days Rodeo (2008) and The Dalles Cherry Festival (2019).

Virg received a Diamond Pioneer Award from the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences in 2010 for his work in the banking sector and his service to many agriculture-related organizations and events.

He was proud of his community and surrounding areas and loved promoting and touring interested people around and educating them on the area.

The best description of Virg is that he was, and enjoyed being, a people person. He never knew a stranger. Virg always cared for others and helping whenever he could. He had a long and eventful life.

Virg is survived by Carolyn, his wife of 55 years; his daughters Cathy (Perry) England of Bellevue, Wash., and Judy (Tyler) Kendall of Oregon City; grandchildren Austin Kendall, Zachary England and Sophie England; step-grandchildren Adam Kendall and Alyson Kendall Anderson; five special cousins Brent Lewis and Mike Babic of LaGrande, Susan Lewis Kubler of Portland, and Wells Matthews and Bob Turner of Beaverton; and several nieces and nephews. He recently lost his sister, Nancy Christensen.

A celebration of Virg’s Life will be held on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 1 p.m. at The Dalles Civic Auditorium, 323 E. Fourth St., The Dalles, Ore.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to these organizations dear to Virg’s heart: The Dalles Community Flag Program with checks made payable to Boy Scout Troop 398, P.O. Box 1610, The Dalles, OR 97058; Providence Hospice of the Gorge; or the Celilo Cancer Center.

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