Deacon John Ries
Deacon John Ries

Deacon John D. Ries, Jr., 90, died on Nov. 21, in Portland.

He was born on Dec. 22, 1922, son of John Ries, Sr. and Mary Ries.

In his teens he earned his Eagle Scout award. Always a builder and inventor, he and two friends built a diving bell out of an old hot water heater, hose, lead weights, and foot pump. They successfully tested it in the Grant pool before trying it out in the Willamette River and Columbia Riverslough. They then built a telegraph system between all their homes which lasted for five years before the power company discovered it and shut it down. He graduated from Columbia Prep and Mt. Angel Seminary receiving a Bachelor of Arts. He then served as a chaplain’s assistant in the Navy. With the end of WWII, he was appointed to the Portland Fire Bureau where he served on the Stevens Disaster Car and Baker First Aid Car.

He left the Fire Bureau and joined the University of Portland as director of Admissions. It was during this time that he joined the Mount Hood Ski Patrol and on patrol at Timberline Lodge met his wife, Elinor, when she threw a snowball at him. They married on Valentine’s Day 1948. After their marriage John began teaching in  Redmond, Burns and Benson High School and Lents Elementary. He returned to the University of Portland in 1951 and received his master's degree in arts.

Summers were spent working for the Forest Service. His interest in amateur radio offered him an opportunity to change careers and work for United Radio as industrial division manager. He returned once more to education to apply his efforts to career and vocational education with Home Repair Training, which he directed to the completion of over 500 homes repaired for the elderly,low income and handicapped. A lifelong Catholic, John he enrolled at Mount Angel Seminary and obtained his master's in theology and was ordained a deacon in 1993. He was deacon at St. Mary’s Cathedral until his retirement in 2009. He also served at St. Sharbel Church.  He was an avid traveler and he and his wife led and joined many pilgrimages to Rome, Israel and other countries and traveled throughout the United States and Canada. He was a member of “Marconi’s Cronies;” (ham radio operators); Mount Angel Oblates; and helped establish the “Christmas in April” (now Rebuilding Together) community service project leading volunteers in home repair for the needy. In 1992 he received the Rev. Thomas Oddo Outstanding Service award for his leadership role. 

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Elinor; son, John (Jay) (Marianne) Ries; stepdaughter, Cheryl (Don) Weir; daughters:  Bibi (Richard) Clarke; Elizabeth (Barry) Pendergrass; Juli (Kevin) Currie; Rose (Alan) Jones; 15 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren; his sisters: Ina Rose Zuelke, Lake Oswego, and Doris Litchfield,  Mt. Angel, Oregon.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Portland.