Emmett Earl Pryor, a former chairman of the Oregon Wheat Commission and past president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, died May 11, 2018, at his home in Salem, Ore. He was 92.
Blake Rowe, CEO of the Oregon Wheat Growers League and Oregon Wheat Commission, said Pryor was a strong advocate for Oregon agriculture.
“Oregon Wheat notes with sadness the passing of one of its most respected grower leaders,” Rowe said. “We extend our deep appreciation for his service and our condolences to his family.”
Walter Powell, chairman of the Oregon Wheat Commission and a farmer near Condon, Ore., knew Pryor for 20 years. The two men were friends, neighbors and fellow advocates for the wheat industry.
“We have a tradition in Oregon of growers going to Asia, going to South America,” Powell said. “I don’t know all the countries Earl went to, but he was as active as anyone.”
Powell said that when he thinks of Pryor, he thinks of all the growers from his generation who gave their time — and many times their money — to serve the industry, blazing the trail for Oregon wheat overseas.
“That’s what I think about, is how lucky we are to have these people,” Powell said.
As president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, Pryor was featured in the April 1984 cover story of Oregon Business magazine, detailing his role lobbying for the industry in the face of record surpluses, low prices and export difficulties caused by a strong dollar.
In the article, Pryor was described by one agricultural expert as “very dogged. ... He’ll be in there fighting and scratching and clawing for his members.”
Pryor was born in Condon, Ore., July 12, 1925. His mother, Julia Jones Pryor, preceded him in death when he was three years old. He was raised by his father, Emmet Pryor, and his step-mother, Jean Law Pryor.
He graduated in 1943 from Condon High School, where he was student body president and senior class president. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy immediately after graduation. After attending Oklahoma University, he served on the USS Merrimack as engineering officer.
After World War II, Pryor returned to Condon and began farming. He believed deeply in public service and advocacy for agriculture and specifically the wheat industry, according to his family. He once said in a speech that “Every man worth his salt should give back to his community and industry at least 10 percent.”
He was as good as his word.
He served on numerous community and industry commissions and boards, including the Gilliam County Assessor Advisory Committee, Gilliam County Board of Equalization, Gilliam County Budget Board, Gilliam County School District 25, the Budget Advisory Board, Gilliam County Board of Review, chairman, Gilliam County Grain Growers as chairman, Mid-Columbia Production Credit Association, Oregon Highway Federation and the Oregon State Extension Advisory Board.
He was also on the Oregon Agricultural Research and Extension Project Advisory Board, Committee for Senate Bill 100/LCDC Citizen Advisory Committee, Oregonians for Food and Shelter as a founding member, Agriculture Political Action League as a founding member, Oregon Wheat League as president, Agriculture Recovery Council as a founder and chairman, Oregon Wheat Commission as chairman, Council for Economic Development in Oregon as founder and chairman, Oregon Economic Development Commission, National Association of Wheat Growers as president and the U.S. Commission on Agriculture Trade and Export Policy.
Pryor was preceded in death by his wife of 30 years, Bernice “Peetie” Petroff of The Dalles, Ore.
He is survived by his wife, Laura Pryor of Salem; son, Marc and Paula Pryor of Torrance, Calif.; son, Ty Pryor of Condon; grandchildren, Damon Pryor of Damascus, Brittany Pryor Lodge of Boise, Idaho, and Stephanie Moore of Maryland; and great-grandchildren, Maggie and Grant Pryor of Damascus; nieces and nephews that he was always very close to, Rod and Jean Pryor of Olympia, Wash.; Joyce and Mike Allen of Brewster, Wash.; Scott Pryor of Spokane, Wash.; Larry and Kay Lear of Condon, David and Marlene Johnson of Bend, and Julie Johnson of Florida.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Condon Scholarship Foundation, P.O. Box 385, Condon, Oregon 97823.
A celebration of life will be held at the Condon Elks Lodge at noon Saturday, May 19, for family and friends; lunch will be served.
Sign the condolence book at sweeneymortuary.com