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R.D. Fortner Sr.

January 16, 1925 - December 12, 2019

U.S. Veteran

R.D. “Red” Fortner, Sr.


R.D. “Red” Fortner, Sr., a resident of Gresham since 1977, passed away December 12, 2019. He was born January 16, 1925, in Childress, Texas to Lee Roy & Hattie (Oates) Fortner. He was the fourth of six children and second of two sons.

After his father’s death when Red was only six his mother soon remarried and had a daughter before moving the family to Wichita Falls, Texas, where three more sons were born, for a total of five girls and five boys.

Red started school there, but left after fourth grade. He earned money with odd jobs and as a street corner paper boy to help feed and clothe his sisters and brothers. He never returned to school to further his education. As a young teenager he joined the 3C’s, Civilian Conservation Corp. After traveling and working his way to California with the 3C’s he and another home sick young man hitch-hiked their way back home.

When Red turned eighteen he received a draft notice from Uncle Sam to join the Army. During WWII, he served in the US Army from April 1943 until January 1946 as a Combat Engineer in England, France, Belgium and Germany. He always liked to tell people, “I never had to shoot anyone and nobody ever shot at me.”

Upon his return from the war in January 1946 he met the love of his life, Shirley Ann Weller. Since she was only seventeen at the time she had to ask her mother if it was okay for them to get married. Her mother said, “Honey, you better marry that old boy ‘cause he’ll take care of you for the rest of your life.” And sure enough he did. They were married August 18, 1946 and had 53 wonderful years together before the Lord called her to her heavenly home after a short battle with cancer.

They had their first child, R.D., Jr., in 1948. The next year they moved to California where they lived for about two years. That is when Red began working in the tire business which he continued for another thirty years. Their second child, a daughter, born in 1950 only lived for one day, dying from a collapsed lung. Their third child, Dorothy, was born in 1952 and soon after Red moved his family to the beautiful Pacific NW, making the Portland area their “forever” home, adding two more daughters, Wendy in 1955 and Tamara in 1959.


In the 1960s the family began attending Powellhurst Baptist Church, where Red became the Sunday school bus driver and served on the board of deacons and headed up the Kings’ Sons program. He later became a member of Bible Doctrine Church of Portland in around 1980 where he attended regularly until this last year.
After thirty years as a Teamster tire service-man Red retired and started his own janitorial business in the Gresham area. He and Shirley joined the Gresham Chamber of Commerce where he was voted Gresham’s “Man-of-the-Year” in 1988.

Red was preceded in death by his parents, three sisters, a brother and three half brothers, his wife, and their first daughter, Starla. He is survived by his sister, Norma Combs of Wichita Falls, Texas, and his half sister Freida Nance of Laguna Nigel, California, his four children, R.D. Fortner, Jr (Carol) of Portland, Dorothy Brown (Robert) of Portland, Wendy Carter (John) of Gresham, and Tamara Peterson (Paul) of Little Rock, Arkansas, 12 grandchildren, Titus, Jeremy, DJ, Delight, Dallas, John, Justin, Kaylen, Steven, Yasmin, Nathan and Esther, and 16 great grandchildren.


A graveside service is scheduled for Thursday, January 16th, Red’s 95th birthday, with military honors at Willamette National Cemetery. Please arrive by 12:30 at the office. CLICK HERE For directions to the graveside.


A memorial service is scheduled for 11:00 AM, Saturday, January 18th, at Bible Doctrine Church, 805 Jackson St, Oregon City, 97045. A reception will follow, For directions to the memorial service- CLICK HERE.

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