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Robert Payne Veness ’37

Robert Payne Veness ’37, November 10, 2002, in Eugene, Oregon. After attending Reed, Robert installed and served theatre equipment, working as a projectionist part time. A response to an emergency call to "temporarily manage" a theatre in Mill City, in the Cascade mountain foothills, resulted in a 20-year residency. After purchasing the theatre, he married Faith Foyer in 1940 and the couple began a "pioneer life" in a town where living conditions were primitive, including in Robert's movie theatre, where a wood stove provided heat and required stoking during show times. An avid ham radio operator, Robert was a member of the Signal Corps in World War II. As the only town member with knowledge of radio and telephone communications, he kept the local telephone company operating. In 1947, he built a new theatre and instituted a "cry room," a Roy Rogers Club, Saturday matinees, and local talent shows. He and his wife helped organize the P.T.A., named city streets, and brought fluoridation to the water system. A special event photographer in town, Robert was the primary photographer for the engineering company that constructed the Detroit Dam in the ’50s. During that decade, he also became a pioneer in cable television, developing and building the Santiam Cable Company. He served as a consultant for cable systems in many towns, including some in Idaho and Washington. Following the death of his wife, Robert married Minerva Carroll in 1980 and the couple resided in Springfield, Oregon, for over 20 years. Survivors include his wife, five daughters, two stepsons, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Appeared in Reed magazine: May 2003

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