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Day: December 2, 2011

I nor the Governor can support death penalty

A Box of Soap

Governor John Kitzhaber has said he won’t sign the execution order for Gary Haugen.  That ignited a firestorm of discussion, and it is welcome.

Some say it is an autocratic move ignoring the will of the people.  The most recent vote on the death penalty was in 1984.  A little over 60 percent of registered voters turned out. Of that group, about 56 percent voted for Ronald Reagan over the 44 percent favoring Walter Mondale.  The death penalty measure passed by a nearly identical ratio.  It is not preposterous to think that Oregon’s death penalty measure was passed by conservative voters who also favored Ronald Reagan.  You cannot argue that the measure didn’t pass, but you could be forgiven for believing that it may not have passed in a year where Democrats had the stronger voter turnout.

I would argue on a smaller scale.  Putting a prisoner to death ignores the will of this person.  Whatever the justification is for killing a criminal, I can’t support it.

If we are to believe that murder is the most vile sin against an individual or a society, how does it make sense to repeat that sin, then rename it justice?  Killing is bad unless good people do it, which makes it good.

Many people try to bring it closer to home – how would I feel if my wife or daughter were the victim?  The most honest answer is, I don’t know.  Sitting here, I can’t think how putting to death a man who has slain one of my family would make me feel fulfilled.  Talking with my friend Paul today, he reduced that scenario to its most honest depiction – revenge.

And in that gruesome scenario, I would have to wonder if either my wife or daughter would have wanted that.  I gain nothing that I can think of from revenge, and I think they feel the same.

If we reexamine the death penalty it is not right to let Gary Haugen steer the conversation.  He does raise the question of how we might prevent a convicted murderer from subsequently murdering an inmate or prison employee.  Maybe convicted murderers should be strictly isolated, as long as they are incarcerated.  Their prison experience should be unpleasant.

There is a lot of huffing and blowing about Gov. Kitzhaber’s refusal to sign a death warrant.  All of that coming from people who don’t have to sign one.  Kitzhaber is the only one who has, twice, signed that order in the last 50 years.  That makes him the only Oregonian who knows that burden.  I wonder if requiring a more personal and active role for those clamoring for revenge would change the picture.

In 1984’s modest turnout it only needed about one third of Oregon’s registered voters to reinstate the death penalty.  That doesn’t even consider the many Oregonians not registered to vote.  When we talk about the will of the people, let’s see if we can get more people to make their will known.

Don Vowell lives in Keizer.

Thank you community

To the Editor:

Gubser Elementary School Parent Club would like to thank the following Keizer/Salem businesses for their donations to this years Jog-A-Thon. The event was a great success because of their generosity.

Allied, Bi-Mart Cascade Gutters, Costco, DeMoss Enterprises, Fred Meyer, J.C.’s Pizza, King & King, Dr. Lady-Jean Ramsey D.M.D., Roths-Keizer, Safeway-Keizer, Target-Keizer, Town & Country Lanes, and WinCo Foods.

Glenna Flesch

The right decision on death penalty

To the Editor:

I am pleased that Governor Kitzhaber has decided that he will no longer support the death penalty in Oregon.  At the same time, I am dismayed that so many Oregonians disagree with him.

How can these people, those that disagree with the governor, countenance the fact that over two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty, putting the United States, in its refusal to do so, in league with China, North Korea, Iran and Yemen? Are they not aware that many countries now refuse to honor extradition requests from the United States because of it?

There are many reasons to abolish the death penalty, not the least of which is the fact that, in almost 40 years, 138 people throughout the country have been released from death row due to wrongful conviction. One wonders how many more should have been.  I consider this gutsy decision on the governor’s part to be, perhaps, the high water mark of his administration.

Art Burr

Letter of reference

To the Editor:

I have known Roland Herrara for 25 years.  When I was president of Keizer Little League, Roland was a tireless volunteer and member of the board of directors. For many years he volutneered as an umpire and a coach.

Roland volunteered at McNary High School sporting events. He has always displayed a great positive attitude and is a contributor to our Keizer community and youth.

I am proud to regard Roland as a close personal friend of myself and my family.

John Doneth

Robert A. Park

R. Park

Mr. Park, of Keizer, died Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. He was 79.

Born Jan. 13, 1932, in Yakima, Wa., he later moved to Oregon and was part of the last senior class at Monmouth High School in 1950. With the U.S. Army he served in Korea and witnessed atomic testing in the Nevada desert. He was awarded several medals for his service.

He obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oregon College of Education and taught at Cloverdale and with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Minto and Nenana, both in Alaska. He also taught in Lebanon, Kinzua and Hebo. He was principal at Griggs Grade School.

With the Department of Defense he also taught at several schools in Germany, Japan and Guantanamo Bay.

He wed Nancy Cross on Oct. 5, 1954; they divorced in 1957. He married Martha Lancaster on Nov. 9, 1959; she died in 2003. He married Ethel Burns on June 18, 2005.

He was preceded in death by his son, John Edward; second wife, Martha Lancaster; brother, William Park; and his parents. Survivors include: his wife, Ethel; children, Anna Marie, Russell, Willie and Doug; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Services were held Nov. 26. Arrangements by Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

Herman R. Smith

H. Smith

Herman R. “Smitty” Smith Jr., of Keizer, died Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. He was 94 years old.

Born May 31, 1917 in Richie, Ill. to Herman R. Smith Sr. and Helga Wenstrom, he’s a graduate of Wilmington High School and the University of Illinois. He served as part of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army during World War II, and landed on Utah Beach. He also was injured in combat during the Korean War. He was awarded numerous medals.

He married Elaine Kern Sherfy in Columbus, Ga. on March 3, 1948. He worked in marketing after his retirement from the U.S. Army and later founded Gulf Winds Trucking.

He was a Freemason and Keizer Elk, and his hobbies included volunteering for the Red Cross, crossword puzzles, coins, reading and ham radio.

He was preceded in death by son James. Survivors include: his wife, Elaine; children, Geoffrey of Keizer, Melanie L. Hornback of Vine Grove, Ky., Mary Ann Cooper of Grovespring, Mo. And Herman R. III of Kent, Wa.; six grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

A remembrance reception was held at Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service, and interment will full honors was at Willamette National Cemetery on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

Memorial contributions may be made to United PAWS of Tillamook, PO Box 159, Tillamook, OR 97141.

The family wishes to thank Dr. Barath Krishnamurthy and staff, Dr. Gloria Alexander, Dr. Nancy Boutin, Salem Hospital and the Keizer Fire District.

Arrangements by Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.