Erwin Bertran “E.B.” Lemon was born July 15, 1889, near Grass Valley, Oregon. Three years before his birth, his parents had left the Monroe area to claim a homestead, build a cabin, and settle on a ranch. They raised wheat and stock, and E.B. helped with the chores as soon as he was able. He started his schooling at the age of nine in a one-room country school built by his father and neighbors. Following high school graduation in 1906, he entered Oregon Agricultural College in 1907 to study business administration. During his senior year, E.B. edited the college’s biweekly newspaper, The Barometer. E.B. was a member of the debate team that traveled around the state and into Washington for intercollegiate contests. Summers found him working on the family ranch or clerking in the Grass Valley Department Store.
Lora Maud (Hansell) Lemon was born May 23, 1889, at the Dalles, where her family had first settled; her father came from Iowa and her mother from Missouri. Her father worked in the car shops at the Union Pacific train yard. Five years later they moved to the Willamette Valley, making the arduous, three week-long trip over the McKenzie Pass. Two covered wagons and a hack made up the family caravan carrying the grandparents, two aunts, parents, and two children and all their possessions. Her grandparents settled on the Mohawk River near Eugene, and Lora’s family went on to Corvallis and bought property at Sixteenth and Polk Streets. Her father went into business as a wood sawyer, using the first gasoline saw in the area. “Little Lo” received her early education at home, where she learned to read at family sessions around the wood stove. She started school at the age of eight. After completing the ninth grade, she matriculated at Oregon Agricultural College in 1904. Her major was “literary commerce,” and she graduated in 1908. Lora worked for three years as a bookkeeper for Corvallis Creamery Company on First Street.
The year 1911 was most eventful for E.B. and Lora: E.B graduated from OAC in June and joined the OAC faculty in September. The couple married in December. (Lora candidly stated that when she first met E.B. in 1907 that he was the man she wanted to marry.) The Lemons had two sons: Berlan, born in 1920; and, Mardis, born in 1922.
E.B. was made an instructor at OAC in 1912 and held that rank for six years. He did graduate work at the University of California in Berkeley for several summers, and other summers he worked in various fields of business to gain experience. From 1918 to 1920 he was an assistant professor, and from 1920 to 1922 was an associate professor. E.B. became a full professor and the registrar in 1922 and continued in this dual role until 1943. He was then appointed dean of administration, a position he held until his retirement in 1959. Following his retirement, E.B. continued to be active with the OSU Alumni Association right to the end of his life, attending meetings of the board of directors. The Alumni Association posthumously honored E.B. with the establishment of the annual E.B. Lemon Distinguished Alumni Award, the recipients of which have been such eminent individuals as Linus Pauling, T.J. Starker and Loren L. Stewart, Milton Harris, and Robert C. Ingalls. His son, Berlan, said that although E.B. knew nothing about this great honor, it would have pleased him tremendously because he was extremely proud of Oregon State University and its graduates.
E.B. also devoted much time to community activities. He was a member of the Corvallis School Board from 1932 to 1938, during the years when controversy raged over the construction of a new high school on Eleventh Street, and he served as president of the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce. He was an active Presbyterian and Rotarian. He was president of the Corvallis Rotary Club when BCF was founded in 1953, and he received the “First Citizen of Benton County” award in 1959. From 1959-1960, E.B. served as governor of Rotary District 511 and for three years as a member of the Rotary International Committee on Fellowships. Through appointment from Governor Hatfield he was chairman of the State Scholarship Commission from 1959 to 1968. He also served as a member of Governor Hatfield’s committee on the reorganization of state government. E.B. was a member of the board of trustees of the Oregon State University Foundation. E.B. Lemon passed away on July 13, 1979, just two days before his ninetieth birthday.
Lora was a member of Oregon State Folk Club, and every autumn for thirty years she entertained the wives of faculty members in the Newcomers Club at a reception in the Owl’s Nest, a garden house in the Lemon’s backyard. She belonged to the First Presbyterian Church and attended regularly. During World War II she was a member of the ration board and was recognized as one of the best-informed persons connected with ration boards in Oregon. She was honored as a “Woman of Achievement” in 1954 at the Matrix Table, sponsored by Theta Sigma Phi. Her membership in PEO, a women’s philanthropic and educational organization, occupied her for the last thirty years of her life, once on a state level as chair of the convention. Lora also enjoyed her association with a grandmother’s club, made up of members whose children grew up together. Her five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren were a source of great delight. She always regarded music, reading, and studying as favorite pursuits. Lora’s wisdom combined with her delightful sense of humor marked her distinctive personality. She lived to the age of ninety-two and, as her son Berlan said, she always maintained her gentle and loving disposition.
Annual distributions from the E.B. and Lora Lemon Memorial Fund are used to award grants to Benton County charities during BCF’s annual community grant cycle.