In Memory

Alan Gatchell



Alan K. Gatchell 

Salem - Alan Gatchell of Salem died February 23, 2021 after a 18 month battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Born Alan Karl Gatchell on March 29, 1947 in Corvallis, Oregon. He was the only child of Karl Lester Gatchell and Nolia Catherine Walker Gatchell. He was raised in Corvallis and graduated from Corvallis High in 1965. Growing up he enjoyed little league baseball and building and flying model airplanes with his father. And visits to his grandparent's grass seed farm near Tangent. 

He was drafted into the Army in September of 1967 and sent to Vietnam as a medic. He served one tour from March 1968 to March 1969. He spent most of the year attached to the First Cav in the central highlands around An Khe. He made it home and never talked much about his experiences


After the Army, he worked for the Northside Lumber mill in Philomath and eventually went to college on the GI Bill and working part time at the lumber mill. He graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Pharmacy in 1975. He worked for Salem Memorial Hospital for 17 years as a hospital pharmacist. He went to work for Salem Costco Wholesale in 1992 and worked as the Pharmacy Manager for 15 years, then continued with Costco as a part time relief pharmacist for several years until full retirement. 

Alan married high school sweetheart Lynda McFarland in 1968. They had one daughter Traci. They divorced in 1983. 

He was a confirmed bachelor for many years until he re-met Lou Ann Thorsness in 1999. They had worked together at Salem Hospital in the late 1980s. They dated for several years while she raised her daughters. They decided to get married in 2010. He freely admitted she was the best thing to ever happen to him. 

Alan became involved with the Sons of Norway in Gearhart and the Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival with Lou Ann and her family. He became a key member of the lodge's annual lefse making and booth at the festival. He enjoyed becoming part of the Astoria community and treasured the many friendships he made. 

Hobbies included hiking in the Cascade and Coast Range mountains in his younger years. Camping, bicycling, driving back roads, yard work, building and flying radio-controlled model aircraft, photography, reading and woodworking. 

Survivors include wife Lou Ann, one daughter Traci Burton (Mike) of Canby, granddaughters Brianna Nofziger and Haley Nofziger (Jeremy Erickson) both of Oregon City. He is also survived by his stepdaughters Kelly Huckestein (Sam & Oliver Seulean) of Knappa and Erika Huckestein (Jordan Smith) of Philadelphia, brothers in law, Chuck (Carol) Thorsness and Andy (Cathy) Thorsness. 

Memorial contributions to your local animal shelter, OPB, or the  charity of your choice

At Alan's request, no services are planned. 


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03/01/21 11:30 AM #1    

Roger Warren

I am pleased to read of Alan's years involved in Astoria.  I'm delighted to contribute to OPB in his honor.  Thank you all for caring for my friend.


03/02/21 01:30 PM #2    

John McAllister

Saddened to here of Alan's passing. It was always fun to be around Alan as we grew up. He kept the up spirits of the world around him. He, also, had the biggest and coolest baseball glove in town. :-)  I'm also pleased to follow Roger's lead in donating to OPB IN Alan's name


03/04/21 02:58 PM #3    

Neil MacSwan

I did not know Alan well in school.  What I do know is that his experience in the 1st Calvary in Vietnam was some of most intense fighting in the war.  As an Army medic he was involved in saving lives of many fellow soldiers.  He was in some horrific situations daily.  In my humble opinion he is an American hero.

I was not with him, but I have read extensivley on the war and recommend the book "CHICKENHAWK" by Robert Mason for those who would like to know about the war Alan was in.  I am proud to have known him.

After learning the history of that small country in SE Asia I have realized  the enormous mistake our politicians got us into.  The US dropped more bombs on that country than we dropped in Europe in WW II.  We lost over 600 aircraft, every thing from single seaters to giant B-52 bombers flying out of Guam.  The worst part was the destruction of people on both sides, both physicaly and emotionally.  This is why Alan remained silent.  Even I sitting off the coast of North Vietnam on a Guided Missile Frigate returned with emotional scars.

I have been to the Vietnam memorial in Washington DC and I come to tears just thinking about it here as I write this message.

Thank you Alan for your service.

Neil T. MacSwan, Nooksack WA

03/05/21 10:48 AM #4    

Roger Warren

Thank you.

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