When Leslie “Roger” Falen’s heart stopped, his amazing trip to heaven began as the most powerful angels he’d ever felt grabbed him on December 8, 2019, surrounded by his loving families at Gritman Medical Center, Moscow, Idaho, from complications of a fall before Thanksgiving at his hobby farm/home. Roger was a son, a brother, a soldier, a husband, a father, a grand-dad, a friend, a work-a-cholic, a peaceful person, an animal nutritionist, an avid reader of all paths of history including politics, a civic and community servant, and a support person to all those around while always trying his hardest to “make things happen” in his own way.
Roger was born April 27, 1938, at Caldwell, Idaho. He was the middle son of Leslie Roger Sr. and Letha Lucinda (Phipps) Falen. Roger spent his formative years on a cattle ranch in the remote region of Owyhee County, Idaho. He rode horses with his brothers to a one room school house at Cliffs, Idaho, from April to October except during haying season. Since Roger was left-handed, he sometimes had difficulty roping because some horses did not work for a left-handed roper, i.e. Cricket. Roger worked cattle with his family, but also helped his mother. He had a passion for chopping wood for the stove in the family log cabin until 1959, when a fire destroyed their home. A modern home was built that still used a wood stove, but propane and a generator were used for power part of the time. Roger never lost his passion for chopping/working up wood or shoveling snow. He attended and graduated from Marsing High School in 1957, while batching with his brothers in a rented house and worked occasionally at the Sunny Slope fruit orchards. Roger was Marsing FFA chapter president (2-years) and won a trip to Utah’s Pillsbury’s plant.
Roger’s mother, Letha, inspired all her sons to read and learn about the world as well as seeking further education. Roger graduated from the University of Idaho in 1961 with a degree in Animal Science (special emphasis on beef production/meats). He was president of the UI-Block and Bridle Club. Roger went to work as a county agent in southeast Idaho, but was drafted into the Army ending his employment.
Roger was in the Army from 1961-1964, when he was honorably discharged and remained on the reserve list for 10-years. Roger said he missed the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was a veterinary specialist at Walter Reed Army Hospital working with a variety of laboratory animals; medical field serviceman at Fort Sam, Houston; instructor’s assistant for mass causality training of doctors; 6-week training for fallout using dogs at Mercury, NV; and he spent most of his time in Germany providing veterinary care/training to German Shepard’s for the U. S. Army Dog Training Center, Europe. While on leave in Germany, Roger and his parents toured Germany, then France, Austria, and Netherlands visiting historical sites. One of his favorites was seeing the Lipizzaner horses on the hillsides in Austria. Learning about local history was a highlight of the family European adventures. He came home with treasured memories on tons of slides and photos, a reel to reel player for taped music, and books.
Roger continued his education at the University of Idaho receiving his Animal Science MS degree in 1968 (emphasis on ruminant nutrition/biochemistry). He presented his thesis work at the western section of the American Society of Animal Science. He also developed a publication on the utilization of minerals by livestock, which was used in county nutritional workshops for county agents and veterinarians.
While Roger was completing his Animal Science MS degree a UI-freshman girl eager to work started titrating his laboratory research samples because he was color blind and could not see the titration endpoints. Well, after many square-dancing sessions and adventures with Anita Lynn Gridley, they were married July 27, 1968, at Glenns Ferry, Idaho. After getting married, Roger studied for a calculus exam while Anita drove back to Moscow, Idaho. This marriage started their lives together, 3 children, and many adventures.
Roger was a work-a-cholic and went above and beyond in his employment to make sure everything was perfect for all clients and work assignments. After college, the Army, and Master’s degree, Roger’s life-long dream to be a manager/nutritionist of a large feed plant led him on a 16-year journey (1980-1996) to many parts of the country, which included local, regional and national companies. In 1996, he returned to Genesee and his family. Even when Roger was gone, he made it home to strategic events like graduations, holidays, family sickness or health problems, marriages, and other family accomplishments or trips.
Roger’s talent’s for nutrition and formulation of rations as well as his love for laboratory work continued when he went to work at the University of Idaho Animal Science department with Dr. Mark McGuire (1998). Roger managed the nutrition laboratory (Biotech Bldg.) and did research in several areas with students: lactation on cows/women, dairy nutrition, human nutrition, milk synthesis, milk fat and protein synthesis, role of milk production in the human diet, and mastitis until he retired in 2008 (age 70). Roger’s name appeared on several research publications.
Throughout his adult life, Roger was a passionate history collector. When Roger and Anita moved to Genesee in 1978, it became apparent Roger had a more than the average history collection. His collection highlighted paper back novels, historical/political/health magazines, books about animals, science, politics, wars, presidents, and health.as well as history/music DVD’s. He even tried to restore his reel to reel tapes from Germany, when his player was stolen. He was asked what he was going to do with all his books. His reply, “I am going to read them when I retire.” He faithfully read at least 4-5 books a week. The mutual joke about the Falen basement was he had one side with all his books piled higher/deeper and Anita had her side with rocks, bugs, soils and horse/animal materials.
Before and after retirement, he supported and attended sports, school, and club functions for his children and grand-children, when he was available. Roger spent his “spare” time doing community service/projects, civic affairs, reading, memberships in local and state community organizations, and helping with events in Latah County as well as at the state level.
Roger belonged to the Young Republicans in college and in 1998 he became involved with the Latah County Republican group and has been the Republican precinct chairman at Genesee for 21-years as an elected official. He attended meetings concerning political party endeavors around Latah County and at state meetings. He loved to take his shift at the party booth at Latah County Fair talking to fair goers and campaign head-quarters for yearly elections, handing out brochures and helping set-up and tear-down the booths, Latah community parades, party picnics around the county as well as the state Lincoln Day celebration with state candidate speeches usually held in February at Moscow each year.
In service to his community, Roger joined the Genesee Planning and Zoning (P/Z) committee in January, 2002 and was still meeting on city P/Z requests.
Latah County AARP was another organization where Roger could make a difference for others. He joined the county AARP chapter in 2002 and was president 2003-2004, vice president 2016-2018 and on the board of directors 2005-2019. He liked learning through all the AARP programs presented at meetings, music and listening to discussions.
In 2003, Roger joined the Genesee American Legion and was a member for 16-years as he liked talking with members about military history and their participations. He was not an officer as he already had too many irons in the fire, but enjoyed meetings/outings, attending Veteran Day presentations at the Genesee School and other places. The Legion was a good fit for Roger to talk about all the military history he knew and studied nearly every day.
The Grange was an important organization to Roger, various services to the community by participating in events and youth programs. Latah Pomona Grange #17, Moscow Grange #452, and the Latah Pomona Park were revitalized by Roger and some other Latah Grange people. The Moscow Grange re-chartered in 2004 he was instrumental, with the help of Carl Hulquist. Roger was Latah Pomona and Moscow Grange master from 2005-2019. Roger tried to continue the legacy of the Latah Pomona Grange food booth providing family-friendly foods at the Latah Fair (2006-2015). The Latah fairgrounds Grange building, built by Grange members and others, has been home to many years of food enterprises. He single-handed ran the food booth during the day when everyone else was showing livestock, running shows or working while chatting with fair goers. Moscow Grange did Genesee Community Day celebration lunch menu for 2-years on main street, fairgrounds Christmas bazaar and gun show food booths. Roger helped the Moscow Grange do an annual 4-6th grade school farm safety poster contest (2009-2014). Grange members picked winners from local schools and overall winners that went on to the Idaho State Grange meetings. The Latah Pomona Grange owns and maintains a rural park in Latah County. Roger, as Grange master, was the project beneficiary representative for a Latah Pomona Park Eagle Scout project (2018-2019) to renovate the Pomona Park entrance, burn slash piles and re-do the outhouse so the park could be used by members, families and others for picnics, camping, looking at native plants, viewing wildlife, and bird watching. Since 1951, the Latah Pomona Grange has given Latah Extension funds for 4-H awards each year. Roger continued the legacy of the green 4-H Pomona incentive ribbons for youth and the Gerald/Grace Ingle Memorial scholarship award each year for Latah County 4-H’ers.
Roger ran for Latah County state representative on the Republican party ticket against Shirley Ringo in Latah County (2006). He wanted to be more involved in the Idaho legislature and campaigned throughout Latah County. He found that the political scene was not for a quiet and peaceful person even though he loved to debate topics, agendas, and programs any time. He knew every US president, their office terms and about their personal lives or special virtues each had done. He enjoyed going door to door, community to community campaigning and talking to people about his ideas. He lost to Shirley Ringo, but Roger enjoyed his experience campaigning.
Roger received a certificate of appreciation for his 10 years of service (2007-2017) on the Latah County Preservation Commission formally known as the Latah County Historic Preservation Commission. He enjoyed working with the Latah County Historical Society and on undertakings of preservation around Latah County.
Roger joined the Genesee Civic Association (GCA) in 2007, that conducts the Genesee Community Day celebration the 2nd Saturday of June each year. GCA holds a community fund and yard sale each year, Halloween and Christmas parties, and Easter egg hunt for youth at the school park. He was president from (2013-2019) and he loved serving pizza and drinks to families that attended the Halloween and Christmas parties. He was the person that ran all the meetings and he liked being involved with the Civic Association.
Livestock, horses, and agriculture had an impact throughout Roger’s life. Roger was a member of the Genesee Rim Riders (GRR) 1996-2002. After 2002, Roger and Anita formed their own saddle club - C Bar F Saddle and Equine Youth Club (C Bar F) and currently still pay dues to the Idaho Horse Council (2002-2019) and are active members of the Idaho Saddle Club Association (ISCA). The C Bar F was named after Roger’s grandfather Charles Falen and members are from the Falen families and/or friends. Roger’s role was support, the man that made the trips and outings successful for everyone. Roger served as GRR president one year and C Bar F since 2002. He was a voting delegate for the ISCA state meetings (1998-2019), helped at spring roundup and ISCA state O-Mok-See. He helped secure silent auction items, helped in cook shacks, and caring for critters.
Roger was a Genesee 4-H Livestock Club project leader for 21 unofficial years (1998). He led several different projects, provided leadership, transportation for youth/animals, and food for anyone hungry. Roger helped 4-H horse leaders with fund-raising and to replace pipe panel fencing at the fairground’s arena. Roger served on the Latah Market Animal Sale (LMAS) committee as Latah 4-H Leader Council representative for 4-years (1998-2001), president (2000), and LMAS treasurer (2001) accounting for revenue and dispersal of livestock checks to youth competitors. Roger helped LMAS secure a bank to back the livestock sale so checks could be dispersed in a timelier manner. Roger never complained when it was time for the Model Horse Show and carefully loaded up tons of Breyer horse boxes, so his grand kids, club members and others could participate in a “fun” horse show. Roger was a faithful supporter of Latah County 4-H Extension and the Latah Fair.
Roger was president (1956-1957) of the Marsing FFA Chapter. All three of Roger’s children obtained their American FFA degrees while in the Genesee FFA Chapter with SAE projects done on the family 2.5-acre hobby farm and/or work experiences with livestock or soils. Roger supported FFA by buying raffle tickets, plants at their spring sale, and fall produce (onions and potato). Daughter Eileen received her American FFA degree (1990) at Kansas City, Kansas. Roger and Anita attended the Kansas City National FFA Convention, when son Eric received his American FFA degree (1991). When daughter, Aletha, received her American FFA degree (2000) at the Kentucky National FFA convention, Roger stayed behind so Anita and grand-mother Aleita Gridley could attend. Roger attended grandson, Kevin Lassiter’s Pullman FFA functions, helped transport animals, bring food to meetings/contests/fairs and brought the roto tiller/supplies Kevin needed for his SAE agri-science project at Pullman Koppel Community Farm. Roger attended the WA State FFA convention (2018, 2019) to see Kevin receive his plaques for his top FFA agri-science poster and agri-science proficiency awards. He had hoped to see Kevin receive his WA State FFA degree in May, 2020.
The scouting program made an impact on Roger’s life as he supported his son and grandsons in their treks to obtain their Eagle scout ranks. His son Eric received his Eagle scout/2 palm awards at Genesee (1986) with an Eagle project done at the Latah County Fairgrounds. Kevin Lassiter, grandson, finished his Eagle project (2019) at the Latah Pomona Park. Roger was influential in helping get supplies, worked on his project, provided transportation and served food to many hungry scouts. Roger helped grandson Charles with his scouting events and he recently received his Star rank. Roger wanted to attend Kevin’s Eagle scout court of honor.
Roger is survived by his wife Anita (51-years at Genesee), daughter Eileen Rowan (Orofino), son Eric (Christi) Falen (Caldwell), and Aletha (Kyle Shelly) Lassiter (Pullman); six grand-children Allen Rowan, Alyssa Rowan Brotnov (Sam), Aleita Falen, Kevin Lassiter, Cole Falen, Charles Lassiter; brothers John Falen (Sharon), Loyd Falen (Debbie), brother-in-laws Wade Gridley and Evan Gridley (Carey), and sister-in-law Maria Roldan Gridley and many nieces/nephews, numerous cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, grand-parents, brother-in-law Gary Gridley, 8 aunts and 8 uncles.
Missing YOU always – You never said I’m leaving, you never said goodbye. You were gone before we knew it and only God knows why. In life we loved you dearly, in death we love you still. In our hearts we hold a special place for you, that only you can fill. It broke our hearts to lose you, but you did not go alone. A part of us went with you the day God took you home. All accomplishments of Roger’s wife, children, and grand-children were because Roger was the “make it happen” person. He tried not to miss events for his children/grand-children, attended concerts, listened to them play instruments, sing and watched them dance. He liked to chit/chat with anyone, listened to his favorite musicians and music, read his books or watched videos. He supported everyone in all their endeavors. Our Roger is missed, but we know he is playing pinochle or debating history/politics in heaven with other family members.
A memorial service will take place in the spring at Genesee and a military burial at the Genesee City Cemetery by the Genesee American Legion.
Since Roger had many civic interests and organizations he loved and worked to promote, the family suggests memorial gifts be made to a charity of your choice.
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