Faith and family: Ron and Tami Stutzman remembered

January 2023 Posted in Community, Obituary

Ron and Tami Stutzman

By James Day

“Can you see Tami without seeing Ron or see Ron without seeing Tami? They were a team. And they touched so many lives.”

That was how Pastor Tom Anderson, Tami’s brother, referred to the couple at a Celebration of Life on Jan. 5, at the Silver Creek Fellowship. A standing-room-only crowd of approximately 500 was on hand for the two-hour event, a mixture of memories, music and prayer.

The Stutzmans, both 71, died Dec. 30 in a car crash in Morrow County in Eastern Oregon. According to authorities, an on-coming vehicle crossed over into their lane causing a head-on collision. It was just 11
days after celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

Ron and Tami met at Silverton High. He was an athlete. She was a cheerleader. They married a year after high school.

“And their love never wavered,” said Teresa Carroll, Tami’s sister.

At times the event took on the hue of a family or high school reunion. Story after story unfolded, mostly from the couple’s early years, and Duane Stutzman’s memories of growing up with his older brother Ronnie.

Many of the stories involved things with wheels, or moving fast.

“The only thing Ronnie enjoyed more than speed was acceleration,” Duane said.

Another story came up in which Ron, on skis, held onto the bumper of a car in the snow-covered Safeway parking lot.

“I can’t believe how much I am learning here,” said Ron’s mother, 93, from the front row.

A couple of stories involved a homeless man named Jim, who slept in a tent under a big tree outside Ron and Tami’s house. For six years. The Stutzmans ran an electric line out to the tent so Jim could run a heater in the winter.

Their extended family grew so big – as was evidenced in the numerous large gatherings (weddings, reunions, graduations) that were featured in a photo slide slow – that both Tom Anderson and Ron’s brother, Duane, felt challenged at coming up with an accurate number for the couple’s grandchildren.

At their 50th anniversary dinner Ron stood up in the middle of the restaurant and announced that “52 years ago I married this beautiful woman.” And when the anniversary party went to pay the bill… they found that another customer already had taken care of it.

Ron and Tami were members of the Silverton High Class of 1969. When Pastor Tom asked members of the audience to raise their hands if they were from the 1969 class more than a dozen did so.

One of those 1969 grads, Don Von Weller, played football with Stutzman and still coaches for the Foxes.

“Ron and Tami were both in my class and I knew them since grade school,” Von Weller said. “Over the years as they aged they were known for their strong faith and deep desire to help those they knew. I was honored to have known them.”

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