The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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A Century of Extension in the Klamath Basin

Five life history interviews conducted by Chris Petersen and Geoff Somnitz.

July 2015 - March 2016


Guy Elmer Reynolds (1920-1995) was born in Prairie, Idaho and attended school at the University of Idaho and Washington State University. After practicing as a private veterinarian for sixteen years in Caldwell, Idaho, Reynolds accepted a position as an Animal Health Specialist with the OSU Extension Service. Though based in Corvallis, Reynolds traveled widely as a fundamental component of his job, working as a liaison between livestock owners, veterinarians and regulatory bodies. A member of numerous veterinary medical boards, Reynolds also conducted research on various cattle diseases, including those leading to infertility, emphysema, and disorders of the eye and tongue.

One of Guy Reynolds' daughters, Linda Lorraine (Reynolds) Weider, was born in 1944 in Caldwell, Idaho. In 1963, she enrolled in undergraduate studies at Oregon State University, ultimately majoring in Microbiology. While in Corvallis, Linda met her future husband, Kraig Weider, himself an OSU graduate in Animal Sciences. The couple eventually settled in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where they raised their children on a 117-acre farm and established a successful real estate business.

Douglas Keith Whitsett was born in 1943 in Monterey, California, and grew up on a dairy farm in Powell Butte, Oregon. A graduate of the Veterinary Medicine program at Washington State University, Whitsett spent twenty-six years as a practicing veterinarian at the Klamath Animal Clinic, serving as president of the clinic from 1986 to 1994. In 2005, Whitsett was elected to represent Senate District 28 in the Oregon legislature, and continued to do so until retiring from public service in 2016.

Rodney Morris Todd was born in 1946 in Porterville, California and was raised on a diversified irrigated ranch outside of Red Bluff, California. After obtaining a bachelor's degree from what is now the Department of Water Science and Engineering at UC Davis, and following that up with a master's degree in Agronomy from Colorado State University, Todd began a tenure with the OSU Extension Service that lasted from his hiring in 1974 to his retirement in 2006. Based out of Klamath Falls and specializing in grains and grasses, Todd led numerous demonstration projects and was likewise involved with regional efforts to support varietal research and to mitigate barley stripe rust.

A now legendary figure in the Klamath Basin, Charles Albert Henderson (1892-1969) was born in Gardner, Oregon and raised on the family farm near Reedsport. A 1916 graduate of Oregon Agricultural College in Dairy Sciences, Henderson moved to the Klamath Basin in 1922 to begin work as an Agricultural Extension Agent. Henderson is best known for having introduced potatoes as a new cash crop in the region, and his efforts to this effect made a profound impact on the area economy. In 1955, Henderson was honored by the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce with the declaration of "Charlie Henderson Day," and at his testimonial dinner, the director of the OSC Extension Service commented that "no county agent in the forty-year history of county extension in Oregon has influenced more cash farm income development than has C.A. Henderson." A year later, Henderson became the first person to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the Oregon Agricultural Extension Association, and in 1960 he received a plaque from Governor Mark Hatfield at another banquet held in his honor.

One of Henderson's children, Jean Elizabeth (Henderson) Pinniger was born in 1932 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. A graduate of the University of Oregon, Pinniger has worked in public relations for the Klamath County School District and, more broadly, has been heavily involved in civic affairs within the community of Klamath Falls. Pinniger is also a past board member of the Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Ronald Lee Hathaway was born in 1946 in Redding, California and spent much of his youth on a ranch that his family purchased near Burney, California. Educated at Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo, where he earned a degree in Animal Husbandry, and then at the University of Nevada, where he completed master's studies in Animal Science, Hathaway joined the Extension Service in Klamath County in 1972. As the Klamath Extension Animal Scientist, Hathaway led demonstration projects and also conducted market research on sheep production and scientific research on selenium deficiency in cattle. He completed a Ph.D. in OSU's Animal Science department in 1987 and remained at the Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center until his retirement in 2007.