Obituary of Gerald L. "Pete" Lillie
Pete was born to Howard and Eunice Lillie on July 8th 1938 in Butte Montana. He died at the age of 85 on September 22, 2023 of Mesothelioma in Eugene, OR
He served honorably in the US Navy from 1955 – 1959 on the USS Yarnall (DD-541) and the USS Shangri-La (CVA-38), and later he was a SEABEE in the Naval Reserves in Eugene.
Pete attended Springfield High School where he met his lifelong love Dixie and shared 67 years of marriage this month.
Pete earned his amateur radio (HAM) license in the early1960’s. He was a founding member of Emerald Amateur Radio Society (EARS) in the 1960’s. He achieved an extra class license with the call signs WA7AIP and then W7JY. He received over 48 awards for his amateur radio work. He also was a Volunteer Examiner accredited by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) to proctor exams to meet FCC regulations.
During the snow storm of 1969 they moved from Springfield to Alvadore. Back then Alvadore was extremely rural, and they had no power, heat, or water. I assure you it was an experience that has not been forgotten.
In the early 1970’s Pete joined the Lane Rural Volunteer Fire Department #1 (LRFD). Pete and Dixie were instrumental in fundraising to start the EMS program for LRFD, as back then EMS was not supported by the taxes, and the fire department only fought fires. The department has grown to become an EMS transporting agency. Pete advanced from Firefighter/EMT to become the Battalion Chief at Alvadore Station #52, and a member of the Board of Directors of LRFD. During his over 20 years of service to the community in this volunteer position he saved many lives, including that of a dog at a house fire where he performed Mouth-to-Snout Resuscitation and revived the four pawed family member. Pete was awarded the humanitarian award for his actions. This was just one of many times that Pete’s love of animals shown through. During this time, it was uncommon to have ladies on the fire department, but he treated them with respect and taught them right along with the men.
In 1972 Pete and Dixie purchased Lee Built Construction Company. They did commercial construction and specialized in financial institutions. By the time that they retired and sold the company in 2002 they had grown the company to working in three states.
In 1975 Pete and Dixie and four other couples were concerned about the safety of Alvadore’s tricker treaters, and decided to start a Halloween Carnival at the Alvadore Fire Station. Pete put his carpentry skills to use and built many games for the children to play and win prizes. The community donated lots of candy that was checked and placed in bags, so that each child received a bag of safe “trick or treat” candy at the end of the evening. He and the other volunteers built a modular haunted house that each year they could put the walls up in different configurations to keep the kids guessing from one year to another, that was until a community member donated a singlewide mobile home that was then used as the haunted house for several years. This year will be the 48th annual Halloween Carnival.
In the 1970’s Pete was able to use his construction and carpentry skills to guide the Alderwood community in renovating a church into the first fire station that the community ever had. This station became LRFD Alderwood Station #54.
Pete enjoyed reading and learning about WWII, he enjoyed visiting US Navy Museum Ships across the Country, and he was a founding member of the amateur radio club on the USS Turner Joy (DD-951) moored in Bremerton, Washington.
In September of 2022, he went on an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. put on by the South Willamette Valley Honor Flight and was escorted by his daughter Becky. After the Honor Flight that Pete did not want to go on, he talked to every veteran that he knew or met and highly recommended that they go on an Honor Flight. He could not speak any higher of the volunteers that worked so hard to make the trip an amazing experience for each and every veteran.
One of Pete’s favorite hobbies is restoring 1920’s era Willy’s Knight cars, and became an expert in restoring Knight sleeve valve engines in these cars. He assisted people around the world with his knowledge of these engines. His cars include a 1920 Overland Roadster, 1923 Willys Knight 3 Door Sedan, 1925 Willys Knight Sedan, 1927 Falcon Knight, 1928 Willys Whippet Coach Right Hand Drive, 1929 Willys Whippet Coupe, 1929 Willys Whippet Sport Coupe with a rumble seat, and a 1963 Buick Rivera.
Pete was a member of Elks Lodge #357, the Exalted Ruler for 2001 – 2002, and a Trustee on the Board of Governors.
It is with such gratitude that we thank Cascade Hospice for helping the family through this difficult time.
He is survived by his wife Dixie, 4 children; son Arlan and wife Natalie Lillie, daughter Suzanne and husband Steve McFeron, son Brian (Dave) and wife Joleen Lillie, and daughter Rebecca (Becky) Lillie and husband Brad Inman, 5 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
A Celebration of life will occur on October 7, 2023 at 2PM at the Eugene ELKS lodge, 2470 West 11th, Eugene, OR 97402. Pete will be interred at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.