ST. PAUL, Ore. — Farmers in the Mid-Willamette Valley lost a longtime friend over the weekend.
Gale Gingrich, a retired Oregon State University Extension agent who spent the last 15 years with Marion Ag Service, has died. He was 77.
"He provided a trusting relationship for growers," said Jeff Freeman, director of sales and marketing for Marion Ag Service. "Everyone in the industry knew him, and looked at him, I think, to provide guidance. That's what he did at OSU, and that's what he did for us."
At Marion Ag Service, Gingrich led the company's research and development arm, conducting experiments and on-farm trials for fertilizers and other crop protection products.
He was also a reliable presence for growers in the field, willing to accommodate their needs any time problems arose — or whenever they simply needed a second opinion.
"Sometimes as a grower, you need that additional reassurance," Freeman said. "If they needed a set of eyes on something, he would always hop in the pickup with them."
Gingrich spent 30 years cultivating grower relationships as a Marion County Extension agent for OSU. His research included developing best management practices and fertilizer treatments for a variety of crops, including grass seed, hops and peppermint.
After retiring from OSU, Gingrich came to Marion Ag Service, based in St. Paul, Ore. Freeman said Gingrich was technically part-time, but often worked longer.
He was born in Lebanon, Ore., and attended Western Mennonite High School, Linn Benton Community College and Oregon State University, where he received a master's degree in agronomy.
OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences honored Gingrich in 2018 by including him on its Diamond Pioneer Registry, which recognizes those who have made significant contributions to agriculture.
"From a team perspective, he was the ultimate teammate," Freeman said. "He would do whatever it took for the grower."
Freeman said Gingrich made an indelible mark on the agricultural community.
"I just think he touched so many people in agriculture, and he was so well-liked and trusted," Freeman said. "You just don't find that as prevalent as it was with him."
He married Florence Kropf in 1964. They have two children and four grandchildren.
They also volunteered for the Mennonite Central Committee in such locations as France and Bangladesh.
A viewing will be held at the Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service on Saturday, April 24, from 1 to 5 p.m.
In lieu of flowers please feel free to make a donation to the Mennonite Central Committee. donate.mcc.org.