Navy 01

Ronald "Ron" Vinson

March 22, 2023
Obituary Image


On March 22, 2023, while his wife and daughter held his hands, the flutter of the Valkyries wings were felt as they swept Ron up into their arms and flew him up to his rightful place in Valhalla, releasing him from a 3-year battle with cancer. A Celebration of Ron's Life with Military Honors will be held in Baker City on July 29, 2023 - 1:00 p.m. at the Nazarene Family Life Center. 

On July 16th, 1945 Newberg, Oregon saw Ronald Allen Vinson come blazing into this world, riding the aftershocks of the first nuclear explosion, and landing in the arms of his parents, Harry Owen and Dorothy Elizabeth (Strickland) Vinson. (This is fitting as Ron would forever be seen as “Superman” in the eyes of his family and friends)

Ron grew up in Sherwood, Oregon (as well as a short time spent in Lake Elsinore, California) and graduated from Sherwood High School in 1964. Shortly after graduation, Ron enlisted in the Navy and in 1965 he went aboard the USS Prairie AD15. He then was sent to “Sub School” which he promptly decided was not going to be his preferred mode of transportation…ever. Ron volunteered for Viet Nam in August of 1966 and went on to train with the Navy SEALs at Little Creek Norfolk, Virginia, and Williamsburg. From October 1966 to 1968 Ron found himself with the US Naval Support Activity, Assault Craft Division 12 in Da Nang Vietnam and as a machine gunner on LCU 1493, with the Brown Water Navy. He became well known for his quick thinking and agile movements while transporting Navy SEALs up the rivers during the Tet Offensive. In May of 1968, he then was with Assault Craft Unit One in Coronado, California. During Ron’s military career he was awarded 3 Purple Hearts, as well as 3 Bronze Battle Stars.

Ron was blessed with his father Harry’s love for nature and creativity, which showed up at a very early age (he was even disqualified from a poster contest because the judges didn’t think “someone of his age could draw that well without help”). He and his father could usually be found up at the little log cabin they built together up on Parrot Mountain or out camping and fishing. When Ron was not spending time with his father, he was most likely off on some grand adventure exploring by himself or causing a ruckus with his life-long best friend Barry Snyder. In fact, Sherwood Oregon doesn’t always have many great “snow days” but in February 1969 Sherwood was blessed with a fair amount of the white stuff, which provided for the perfect “beer-soaked” day of freedom from work. And what better way to celebrate but for Ron, his best friend Barry and another family friend to “borrow” a kid size runner sled, pile on 3 people high, and sail down Washington Hill…only to collide with 2 young ladies sledding on an innertube. Needless to say, while the runner sled and innertube were no longer usable, Destiny had played its hand well and by the time all 5 were done laughing (or cussing…depending on which version of the story you hear), Ron was head over heels in love with one of those young ladies…and married the forever love of his life, Kathi on April 2nd, 1971.

Ron craved quiet and nature, and in 1974 he and Kathi sold their home in Sherwood and abandoned the West side of Oregon. They found the perfect, peaceful mountain living that they were looking for in the Sumpter Valley, where they lived in a tent for 5 months while they built their forever home. Ron was a

person who had more talent in his little finger than most of us have in our whole body, and though he never thought of himself as such, Ron was an amazing artist. If he could see it, he could draw it. If he could draw it, he could build it. He was a true Jack of all Trades, and a true Master of them all.

In November 1977, Ron and Kathi were blessed with a daughter, Toriana Elizabeth and the three of them created a lifetime of memories filled with exploring, camping, creating, and endless amounts of love and laughter. Their home was always filled with family and friends, and just about every kid within a 30-mile radius became one of the Vinson’s…and each one has memories and stories of Ron that they will cherish forever.

A sparkle came into Ron’s eyes when he talked about his grandchildren, both biological and honorary. He loved spending time with them and had a special bond, as well as a special interest or hobby with each one. He attended every school and sporting event he possibly could, even if it was done by videochat as we did in his last weeks. He was always up for a fishing trip, a sledding party, or to just sit down with some Oreos, a glass of ice-cold milk, and a kid to have a cookie or pie eating contest with. He was so very proud of them and will forever be cheering them on in every endeavor they choose to pursue.

Ron is preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Dorothy, as well as his best friend Barry Snyder, sister-in-law Jan Peterson and niece Terry Freeman.

He is survived by his wife Kathleen Vinson, daughter Toriana Vinson Whiting, son-in-law Scott, grandsons Marcus and Ethan, granddaughter Raevyn, God-daughters Bonnie, Julie and Lisa, as well as numerous honorary children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

A Celebration of Life will be held for this wonderful and amazing man at a later announced date this summer. If you have a special story, memory, or photo of Ron that you would like to share, please feel free to send it to his wife Kathi, or daughter Tori as we would love to include them in his celebration.

We would like to thank the Boise VA Hospital, La Grande Post Acute Rehab, and Heart ‘n Home Hospice – La Grande for the wonderful and loving care Ron received.

We would also like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support our family has received. We love and appreciate each and every one of you.

Online condolences may be shared at


A Celebration Of Life
July 29, 2023

1:00 PM
Nazarene Family Life Center (Baker City)
Guaranteed delivery before the A Celebration Of Life begins


© 2023 Tami's Pine Valley Funeral Home and Cremation Services. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility