The Obit For Ed Urness

The Dalles businessman Ed Urness dies

By Kathy Ursprung
The Dalles Chronicle, October 18, 2009

Longtime The Dalles car dealer Edward Urness, 76, died Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009 at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City.

He and his brothers Jerry and C.R. Urness long operated Urness Motor Co. in The Dalles, which was founded by their father C.H. Urness in 1946.

He was born at Emanuel Hospital in Portland on Aug. 14. 1933. He grew up in Portland, attending Vernon Elementary School. The family moved to The Dalles around 1946, when his father purchased the Studebaker franchise. He graduated from The Dalles High School in 1952 and signed with the Boston Red Sox organization later that year. He was one of the two “Bonus Babies” signed at that time.

He played in the Red Sox farm system in Durham, N.C., the Coming Red Sox in Coming, N.Y., and the Albany Senators in Albany, N.Y. An arm injury ended his baseball career and he returned to The Dalles to become part owner with brothers C.R. and Jerry Urness in C.H. Urness Motors, taking on the Plymouth, Dodge and Chrysler franchise.

He married Marilyn Lundell on Aug. 7, 1953 and they had four children, Mark, Tim, Mike and Mary.

He served in Nuremberg, Germany, for two years before receiving an honorable discharge in March 1955. During that time, he worked as part of the Army post office, but remained active in sports.

“A lot of people don’t know he was part of a traveling sports team in Germany, where they would play athletics — football, basketball, baseball — against other teams in Germany and across Europe,” said his son, Mike Urness.

Ed Urness was a member of The Dalles Kiwanis for more than 50 years, serving as president and a state officer. He was a Wasco County Fair Board member for 17 years. He served on The Dalles Parks and Recreation Commission.

He was a member of The Dalles Elks and The Dalles Country Club for more than 50 years, and a member of Zion Lutheran Church since 1953, serving on the church council and as an usher and adviser to Luther League.

He was named The Dalles Young Man of the Year in 1966.

He also managed and coached the American Legion baseball team here for 15 years, from 1960 to 1976. He and his brothers were the reason baseball resumed in The Dalles after World War II.

His father was responsible for the reorganization of the American Junior Legion Baseball program, even arranging for the old Vaughn Street grandstands to be transferred from Portland to The Dalles’ Quinton Street ballpark.

Ed Urness was appointed Oregon State Baseball Commissioner for the American Junior Legion baseball program during the 1970s.

He retired from the family business in 2000, but continued to play a role.

“He enjoyed coming down to Urness Motors and interacting with his past customers, but he turned over the duties of selling cars to us boys,” Mike Urness said. “He didn’t want to learn the computers.”

He was also an avid golfer, playing as much as three times a week, and enjoyed hunting and spending time at the family home in Pine Hollow.

Services will be held Saturday, Oct. 24, at 2 p.m. at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in The Dalles.