Bill Monroe: For Beaverton veteran, 94 is just another year of venison dinners

Lew Loebe of Beaverton isn’t as easy to contact as most 94-year-olds.

If he’s not busy day-trading on the New York Stock Exchange before it closes at 1 p.m. (our time), he’s hunting or fishing; or getting ready to hunt or fish.

Loebe, an articulate and physically fit 165-pound U.S. Air Force veteran, is a fitting curtain to Veterans Day weekend; a reminder that life not only goes on because of their service, but can flourish in their examples and love of the outdoors.

“Lew encourages all of us old folks that age does not have to be a barrier to doing the things we love,” said Colby Howe, 74, of Portland, a longtime friend and hunting and fishing partner.

Howe led us to Loebe a few weeks ago after the near-centenarian tagged a forked-horn blacktail deer on Dixie Mountain, between Scappoose and North Plains.

At an age when most survivors of retirement are content to watch birds or flowers from the windows of their senior care homes, Loebe just picked out a new chocolate Lab pup to train for duck hunting.

“I try to walk a mile or two a day,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m getting another dog. I don’t like to walk by myself.”

Loebe hunts deer and elk because he loves venison more than antlers (he rarely eats beef).

A research engineer by training, he’s survived three marriages, each lasting 12-15 years, and has three sons, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He’s “lived in sin” for 34 years with a loving partner, Mary Edwards, a retired human resources manager.

Born in Texas in 1929 and raised in Wyoming, Loebe signed up for the Army Signal Corps (which later became the Air Force) in 1945 because he wanted to get in on the fighting before the war ended. …

And was assigned as an aircrew radio operator in Nome, Alaska, just about as far from any war front as possible.

Still, “We ate pretty good and I was warm,” he said. “And I got to catch lots of salmon and shoot some ptarmigan.” And he had several adventures in small aircraft. “I really shouldn’t be alive,” he mused.

A star football halfback in high school and through college, Loebe played for awhile on an Illinois team that was the equivalent of a farm team for the Chicago Bears, but never quite made it to the NFL.

Nevertheless, his athleticism is one of several reasons he’s in such good shape now, he believes.

A successful working career took him across the nation, culminating with a management position at Tektronix in Beaverton. He was lured to Oregon by salmon in Multnomah Channel and elk hunting.

After his corporate stint, he owned several small marketing and communication businesses before becoming hooked on day trading at the age of 72.

“I don’t know if I ever retired,” he said.

Lew Loebe of Beaverton closed out this past deer season with a tasty forked horn blacktail taken on Dixie Mountain, north of North Plains.

Lew Loebe of Beaverton closed out this past deer season with a tasty forked horn blacktail taken on Dixie Mountain, north of North Plains.Lee Loebe

Loebe’s owned a dozen horses over three decades of elk hunting in high country. It’s his favorite hunt, but he’s now down to deer, ducks, geese, two duck boats and a canoe.

“I’ve always wanted to do things myself, to learn myself,” he said. “I never hired many guides unless I wanted to learn something and they knew that up front. I’d pack into Eagle Cap three days early, find a herd of elk, form a strategy, go get one and pack it out on a horse.”

Loebe’s favorite fishing? Trolling for coho at Buoy 10 or in the ocean in son Lee Loebe’s 22-foot Thunderjet. Loebe said Lee is his constant companion and hunting and fishing partner.

A non-smoker all his life, Loebe works out, walks and eats what he wants, but just “within about 80% of being full.” His only alcohol these days is a glass or two of wine in the evening.

Any health issues? Blood pressure? A CPAP? Eyes? Surgeries? Heart?

Loebe paused (unusual for him; he enjoys talking to people) … ”Hmm … No, nothing,” he said almost apologetically. “I do have arthritis, though.” (Doesn’t count. Too common.)

While he realizes he’s not likely to see this new puppy into its peak hunting age, he’s going to train it, hunt for a season or two and then give it to a close hunting partner.

“My life is going to get pretty boring here in two or three years,” Loebe said.

His advice for younger retirees? “No matter what your interests are, it’s important to keep your mind busy on new challenging things. We can always learn more and more about less and less.”

Advice for millennials? “It’s important to stay active, try to keep your weight to something reasonable. Have something you enjoy doing each day. Have a long-term goal (and you can change it). You’ve always got to have somebody you love.”

One last note: Loebe was born on July 4 and you can sense his grin over the phone: “That was a bang,” he said. “I’ve never been gun-shy.”

Bill Monroe for The Oregonian/OregonLive

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