If you like the Bend of today, among the people you might thank is J. Pat Metke, who died recently in Florida at the age of 91. He was among a group of Bend residents who, in the 1950s and 1960s, worked hard to lay the groundwork for what was to come.
Until he moved to Florida to be near his eldest son, Metke was a lifelong Bend resident. He was a graduate of the University of Portland and was an owner of Lumbermen’s Insurance. He served in the state Legislature from 1959 to 1961, a Republican from what was then House District 2, Deschutes County.
He served on what was then the Oregon Game Commission (now Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission) and was a member of the federal Pacific Marine Fisheries Commission.
He was also a strong supporter of what was then Central Oregon College, the state’s first community college. Without Metke and other businessmen in the community, the college, established by the Bend school district in 1949, might not have survived.
And, arguably, had COC not become COCC and grown from a tiny night school with classes in Bend Senior High School, OSU-Cascades, which becomes a four-year college in 2015, might not be here today.
Metke helped shape Bend’s future in other ways, as well.
He was a young businessman here in an era when many young businessmen here were actively involved in the community in a variety of ways.
There was no such thing as “economic development” in the modern sense during the 1950s and early ’60s, and businessmen took up the slack. They worked to bring in manufacturers of things that did not rely on timber. Among their successes was Nosler Bullets, which moved here from southern Oregon. They also persuaded a mobile home manufacturing company to make Bend its home.
Metke, who served as the Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for industrial development in the late 1950s, helped steer those efforts.
Metke moved to Florida 13 years ago. In addition to his wife, three children and various grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he leaves a community richer for his presence.