Darrel Gutzler passed away Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, a few days after contracting COVID-19. For 96 years, Darrel was kind, generous, hard-working and wise. He had an incredible memory and shared his many stories with his family who loved him dearly. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy lives on in his seven great-grandchildren that he loved deeply.
Darrel was born Dec. 12, 1924, on Juniper Flats near Maupin, Ore., to Archibald and Erma Studenicka Gutzler. He spent his early years riding horses and working on the farm, chasing his dog with his brother Norman, and attending school at the one room Victor Grade School.
After graduating from Maupin High School in 1942, he immediately began working as a tugboat deckhand for the Inland Navigation Company on the Columbia River. He joined the Merchant Marines in 1944 and went to training in New York City. After the war, he returned to The Dalles, Ore., to work for the Inland Navigation Company. He soon became a tugboat captain hauling goods up and down the Columbia River. In 1960, he joined the Columbia River Pilots, and guided ships from Astoria to Portland for 29 years. He retired in 1989.
Darrel married Rachael Medler in 1949 in The Dalles, where they raised four children. In 1960, the family moved to Portland, Ore., when Darrel became a Riverboat Pilot. The family lived in southwest Portland where all four children graduated from Wilson High School. They played a lot of pool in the basement of their home on 10th Street.
Darrel loved Oregon, especially the coast at Gleneden Beach and Camp Sherman. For 30 years, they owned a cabin on the Metolius River where Darrel was always busy doing projects. Darrel and Rachael loved sharing their cabin with their family, and he enjoyed feeding the chipmunks and fish. He enjoyed taking walks on the Oregon Coast and hosting campfires for his family.
For the last two decades, Darrel lived at Mary’s Woods Retirement Village in Lake Oswego. Darrel and Rachael split their time there with frequent trips to the coast and mountains during their first few years there. When Rachael got sick, Darrel was an amazing and thoughtful caregiver. Darrel enjoyed the Mary’s Woods community and was a regular at the Friday poker games. He enjoyed hosting his family at the fancy restaurants and swimming with his great-grandchildren in the pool. He also gave many presentations to residents about his career on the river. He met his best friend Carol at Mary Woods, and she brought him tremendous joy.
When his beloved wife Rachael passed in 2008, he brought the family to Camp Sherman to remember her and her favorite place. The family continues to go every year and their love of Camp Sherman has been passed on to their seven great-grandchildren. This summer, the family will gather there again to join Darrel’s ashes with Rachael’s.
He is survived by his children David, Mark (Sharon), Marcia (Bill), and Kevin (Amy); six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be made to Mary’s Woods – Sisters of the Holy Names.