The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Bryan Wolfe Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

October 31, 2014


William Bryan Wolfe was born in Enterprise, Oregon in 1944. A fifth-generation farmer and rancher, Wolfe was raised on the family homestead near Wallowa, Oregon; his two brothers also eventually came to run large family ranches of their own. Growing up, he was a member of the Future Farmers of American Tractor Club and the 4-H Livestock Club, and he also met his future wife, Lou Ann, through 4-H Empire Builders when both were in high school.

Wolfe graduated from Wallowa High in 1962 and enrolled at Oregon State University that fall. An Agricultural Economics major, Wolfe was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, and also participated in the university's Agricultural Economics Club, Farm Economics Club, and Flying Club. He and Lou Ann married in December 1965, while both were still undergraduate students.

After completing his degree in spring 1966, Wolfe returned to the family farm, which had always been his ambition. As the decade moved forward, the Wolfe family expanded their operations, purchasing land in Umatilla County with an eye toward improving their cattle operation. In 1972 Wolfe began experimenting with center-pivot irrigation circles, using water from the Columbia River to raise produce on land that he had purchased near Hermiston. In 1975 he and Lou Ann moved to Hermiston full time, focusing their attentions on raising irrigated crops as well as four sons.

In 1991 Wolfe expanded his operation again, this time by launching the Wolfe Feedlot. A decade later, he founded the W. Bryan Wolfe Ranch, an irrigated farm that also includes cattle. Wolfe also became increasingly involved in community and regional affairs during this time, at various points serving on the Umatilla Energy Cooperative Board of Directors, the Oregon Board of Forestry, and the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council. Named Hermiston's Man of the Year in 1999, Wolfe, with Lou Ann, is also a member of the OSU Agricultural Hall of Fame. Wolfe likewise serves as one of six members of the Dean's Advisory Group for the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences.