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Victor Allen, known as Vic (“Tats”) Retherford, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday, October 16, 2023, one hour after the Dallas Cowboys beat the Los Angeles Chargers. A die-hard Cowboys fan since the team formed, we believe he held on for another week after they lost to the 49rs to share a final Cowboys victory with us.
Although his interment took place already at Mt. Hope Cemetery next to his wife Nelda, a celebration of Vic’s life will be held on Saturday, November 18th, 2023 at the Baker City Elks Lodge #338. No formal ceremony will be held, but instead, it will be a meet and greet style of gathering where everyone can visit with Vic’s family and share their thoughts and memories in a relaxed setting.
Malcolm Forbes said once that “To measure the man, measure his heart.” Vic had a huge heart and left a legacy in the lives that he touched. He was a determined, hardheaded, kind, and loyal man with a heart of gold right up to the very end.
Born August 23, 1937, in Burns, Oregon, Vic spent his life helping those around him. At the age of 23 he was drafted into the Army where he worked with burn patients at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, making sure they were as comfortable and happy as could be given their situations. He would tell the patients jokes and stories, bringing a little light into the lives of every man he met along the way.
After his two-year military service, he returned home and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at EOU. He taught and coached for nearly 31 years at Baker Jr. High and High School and was much loved by his students. Vic married Nelda Sheppard and together they had two children, his daughter Kristin and his son Greg. And dogs. Many, many dogs.
Unfortunately, at the age of 49, Vic was left to finish raising his son and daughter alone following the untimely death of his loving wife Nelda. Despite the challenges along his way, Vic never stopped living his life and doing the things he loved most; playing with his beloved dogs and horses, competing in field trials, spending time with his children and grandchildren, hunting and fishing, and of course watching his favorite football team.
It has been truly touching, both for Vic and his family members, when over the last few years, they’d encounter his former students or athletes he’d coached, and they’d share about the impact he’d had on their lives. He was a humble man and more than once would say afterwards, “I’m not sure why they think that about me. I never did anything special.” All of these comments reflect the measurement of his heart, and the measurement of him as a man. You don’t have to do big or grand gestures to change lives and make the world a little bit better. You can leave a legacy just by having a huge heart.
Vic was preceded in death by his wife Nelda who was the love of his life, his parents Jim and Gladys Retherford, his in-laws Don and Pauli Sheppard, his sister and brother-in-law Jim and Margie Hooe, his brother Jack Retherford, his nephew Rick Retherford, his sister-in-law and brother-in-law Mardell and Bill McCauley, and his brother-in-law Ron Johnson.
He is survived by his daughter Kristin Retherford, his grandson Matthew Morse and wife Kathy, and great grandchildren Sophia and Will Morse, his grandson Jack Morse, and his son Greg Retherford and wife Heather, and grandchildren Drea Retherford and wife Haylee (and soon to be born great grandchild), granddaughter Andrea Retherford, grandson Rhett Retherford, and granddaughter Rian Retherford.
The day before Vic passed, he was asked by his neighbor and good friend Carla to send a sign, if at all possible, following his death to let the family know he was okay. For more than 30 years the front porch light of his house has not worked, and for those 30 years it has been a joke between the family that he would fix it any day now. It was so bad that it got to the point that the family tried to fix it themselves. Vic’s son Greg came over and replaced it with a new fixture, switch, and a new bulb. Still nothing. It seemed nothing could get this light to turn on. Vic’s only response to this was a laugh followed by, “Well dammit, I guess at this point it’s just not going to happen!”
When hospice arrived after he passed the porch light still wasn’t working. When the funeral home staff arrived, it wasn’t working. But as they were leaving with Vic and began to close the door behind them, Kristin told them they could leave it open to give them a bit of light. They responded: “It’s okay, the porch light is on.”
The family was shocked. They flipped the switch to see if it would turn off, and nothing. They instantly knew that this was their sign and that wherever he may be, Vic was ok. The porch light shines on, representing the light, happiness, and love Vic brought into all of our lives; and the light that will continue to shine within each and every one of us as we carry our memories of this incredible man with us for the years to come.
Memorial contributions may be made to Best Friends of Baker City through Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel at 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, Oregon 97814