Otto Tschanz

Otto “Skip” Henry Tschanz III

July 26, 1942 - October 24, 2018

76, The Dalles, died at Mid-Columbia Medical Center early Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, following a hard-fought battle with his failing lungs.

He was born July 26, 1942, in Pocatello, Idaho, to Otto Henry Jr. and Marjory Osguthorpe Tschanz. He was a proud alumnus of Pocatello High School, class of 1960.

Skip was, if nothing else, his grandparents’ first grandchild and his Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Mel Painter’s first nephew. In its most essential aspects, the core of the soul known to his family, friends and co-workers was borne of his experiences on the Osguthorpe farm in Riverside, Idaho, and the Tschanz family home at the base of The Lost River Mountains in Central Idaho. It was while riding shotgun in the tractor driven by his grandpa, Cliff Osguthorpe, that he acquired his keen, mischievous wit and his appreciation for a good beer or glass of wine after a hard day’s work. His grandmother, Mary, was an artist who contributed that rare gene that codes for the sense of a great scene.

It was while wading through Pass Creek with his grandfather, Otto Henry Sr., that he learned that the only legitimate way to catch a fish was with a fly, a skill that served him well into his mid-40s. Wandering through the Lost River wet lands with the two elder Ottos and a 20-gauge shotgun tucked under his arm, he was afforded the rare treat of an autumn afternoon in a country doctor’s office getting buck shot pulled out of his hide. Moreover, one suspects that the gene coding for the love of reading and learning came from his grandmother, Myra Tschanz, a University of Oregon-educated school teacher.

Unbeknownst to Otto Jr., Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Mel absconded with Skip to Pocatello Hardware Store during the winter of 1950 and outfitted the young man with the full complement of skiing gear (of course putting the whole bill on Otto Jr.’s tab). From that time until Skip was old enough to drive himself, Uncle Mel taxied him to and from the nearby Skyline Ski Area. Skip became a pure marvel on skis. As a young man, he was the most graceful skier on the hill. It was through these beatific days on the slopes that he fell and remained in love with a snowy winter’s day.

It was by virtue of a blind date with a mildly ill and extremely reluctant Pocatello High School sophomore that he fell and remained in love with Janet Sue Hiatt. If it were not for the fact that Jan was in grave danger of failing Algebra without Skip’s help, and Skip couldn’t have typed his sociology assignment up without the aid of Jan and a prayer, the two would have parted each other’s company after that first unpleasant date in 1959.

The two young lovers were formally attached at the hip in May 14, 1961. They teamed up to bring Ken, Todd and Joe into the world in the 1960s. Skip was employed by the chain of department stores owned by Interco from 1961 through 1986 and, by 1973, he had secured the position as manager of The White House Department Store in Santa Rosa, Calif. Another quick promotion and transfer brought him to the state that was truly his spiritual home. He was the manager of Miller’s Department Store in Klamath Falls, Ore., from 1974 through 1978. Klamath Falls was the place that Ken and Todd loved the best. A final promotion with Interco brought him to Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he managed two Idaho Department Stores and put Ken, Todd and Joe through high school, and Todd through college.

We do not know precisely why Interco closed and liquidated its department stores in the mid-1980s but, though traumatic at the time, it was the blessing in disguise of Skip’s life. It brought him, Jan, their son, Joe, and grandson, Paul, to The Dalles. Within a year of his arrival during the summer of 1986, he gained employment at The Dalles Chronicle selling advertisements. Sometime soon after he began working with The Chronicle, he began to show the pictures that he taken during one of his many hikes in The Gorge with the family. The pictures were beautiful (his grandma, Mable, would have been proud). Indeed, they were so impressive that The Chronicle published a few of them and asked him to occasionally write a column about the outdoor adventure in which the picture was taken. These columns soon became a regular feature of the paper. Skip wrote The Trailhead for The Chronicle for approximately 20 years. This column primarily chronicled adventures in The Gorge, the ski trails in the Mount Hood area, as well as tales from locales in Austria, Germany, the Caribbean and the desert southwest.

It was by virtue of this gig that Skip became known to the readership of The Dalles Chronicle as “The Hiker Guy.” The Hiker Guy was the grown-up version of the little boy on the Osguthorpe farm and the Tschanz mountain home. Having remained in a partially dormant state for nearly three decades, it had emerged happy and free in the Columbia River Gorge community that had always been his true home.

Along the way through his life path, Skip generously gave his time to several organizations, the most prominent of which was the several positions the he held with both the local (treasurer) and state (both president and vice president) Nordic clubs. Moreover, he assisted with the organization of the John Craig Wilderness event. His love of both teaching and skiing was manifested in his ski instruction for the students of the Washington State School for the Blind. He was instrumental in the restoration of the Tilly Jane Guard Station. He had a great love and respect for the wilderness and the environment. He volunteered for the forest service as a Wilderness Steward and loved doing interpretive talks at Lost Lake. He served on the Allocation Committee of the United Way and was also a member of The Dalles Country Club.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Otto Jr. and Marjorie. He is survived by his wife, Janet; his sons Kenneth, Todd (JoAnn) and Joe (Michelle); brothers, Roger and Larry; sister Pamela; grandchildren, Natasha, Aaron, Paul, Camden, Caleb and Gabey; great-grandchildren, Brandon, Piper and Lincoln; and cousins, nephews and nieces too numerous to mention.

Skip will be sorely missed by all who knew him. He is now on to his next great adventure, the destination of which is just a quarter mile away.

Memorial services are planned for early spring, 2019.


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