Towner Menefee was born on March 9, 1926 at the Wilcox Maternity Hospital in Portland - he was not alone. Towner’s twin sister Cornelia quickly followed. They joined their older brother Bruce and were raised by their mother Cornelia Cook Menefee, a force to be reckoned with, as well as by their father PL Menefee.
Towner’s outlook on life was one of unbounded enthusiasm. He regaled his children
with stories from his youth with his Riverdale School friends (who remain close to this day,) to boarding school on Vancouver Island BC (Brentwood College,) a short stint in the army, and then briefly attended Claremont Mens College. Towner returned to Portland where he married Elizabeth Cronin and together they raised seven children.
Weekends for Towner were spent in the outdoors: hiking or taking pack trips into
the Three Sisters Wilderness area, climbing mountains or kayaking down rivers. In the
mid 1960’s Towner happened upon property near Tumalo with a spectacular view of the Three Sisters and Mount Bachelor. The Quail Farm became the Menefee family’s refuge from Portland. Winter weekends and summers, the Quail Farm was a hub of activity as friends gravitated to the Tumalo area with their own families. Throughout those years, while raising an active family, Towner gave his children the gift of unconditional love and his passion for the outdoors. His children remember him as a kind, thoughtful and humble man, with an irreverent sense of humor.
Towner had a love for the John Day River area. In 1970 Towner and a group of
friends purchased Twickenham LLC. The ranch was 2 miles up from the Twickenham
bridge. Strong bonds were forged through the adventures spent with family and friends
exploring this area. In addition, many deep friendships were formed with the ranchers
and farmers from the Twickenham valley. This was one of Towner’s favorite places and
throughout his life he visited often.
Towner was a magnet for his children’s cronies, and after his divorce he was also
a magnet for Nancy James Zeppa whom he considered the love of his life. Nancy readily embraced Towner, his gaggle of children & grandchildren as well as his joy of life and adventurous spirit. Towner found in Nancy a soul mate and traveling companion. Nancy’s love and devotion was never more evident than in the last few years as she selflessly and compassionately cared for Towner as his health declined.
In the 1960s, Towner was a board member of the Catlin Gabel School and one of
the founding board members of Pacific NW Outward Bound. Over the years his volunteer involvement also included the Juvenile Diversion program in both Port Townsend and Vancouver Washington, and the Portland Providence Hospice Bereavement program.
Towner was an active member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral where he served on the
endowment committee and as an usher.
Towner is survived by his wife Nancy James Menefee, seven children: Sally Moore of Portland, Caroline Sheahan of Edwards, Co, Cookie Lafferty (Michael) of Eugene, Betsy Rickles (Norm) of Portland, John (Sheila) of Bend, Christine (Wes) of Bend, Peter (Ginnis) of Bend, seventeen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Towner was predeceased by his son, John Brian, in 1959.
A service will be held on Wednesday March 6th at 11:00am at Trinity Episcopal
Cathedral, Portland, OR. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to The Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Outreach Program (147 NW 19th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209) and the Oregon Historical Society.