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Herbert Carl Bastuscheck

January 4, 1941 September 13, 2019
Herbert Carl Bastuscheck
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Obituary for Herbert Carl Bastuscheck

Herbert “Herb” Carl Bastuscheck was born January 4, 1941, in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, to Burton Charles and Ruth (Peters) Bastuscheck. The family eventually moved to the West Coast when Burton accepted a job as pastor of the Marquam Methodist Church. After Herb graduated from North Salem High School, his father was teaching some classes at Willamette University, so Herb was able to take classes there at a discounted tuition rate. Even after taking many classes, he was unsure of the direction he wanted to take, so Herb decided to enlist in the Army reserves. He soon realized that the Army was not the path he wanted to travel, and after barely missing a deployment to Vietnam, Herb decided to leave the service and return full time to Willamette University. He always said he took enough classed to have earned a Doctorate, but he did end up earning his teaching certificate from Oregon State University.               

Herb had a life-long passion for learning and would dive into whatever he was interested in, immersing himself in the subject and learning all he could, and then he would excitedly teach others what he knew. This made him a much-loved teacher during his 45-year career that began in the Mill City and Detroit school districts from 1964 to 1985 teaching upper elementary. Mr. B as the kids called him not only taught the curriculum but instilled in the students the same love of learning he enjoyed. He would do crazy things like eat grasshoppers, ants, and snakes, even convincing some of his students to try them. Herb loved teaching and the kids sure loved him.               

Herb married and the union gave them three wonderful children. When the kids were young, he worked as a forest fire fighter during the summers. It was a dangerous job and one time he was even forced to wet a blanket and get under it as the fire roared over the top of him. When the kids were about three, five, and eight years old, he worked as a fire lookout. The family would hike three miles to Marion Lake and stay in a lookout tower together. They would hike back out every three weeks to do laundry and shop for supplies, then hike back in.  The family left the canyon for a time and moved to the Bellevue, Washington, area where he also taught school. Unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce, and Herb moved back to the Santiam Canyon to resume his teaching there and even spent time as a volunteer firefighter/EMT. His kids came to visit on holiday breaks and summer vacation and their dad was involved in their activities and was even Scoutmaster for a time. Herb loved the Oregon desert and even took an aboriginal lifestyle course at the Malheur Field Station. When the kids were home visiting, he would take them to central or southeast Oregon to camp and fish. They loved the Steens Mountains, the Kiger Gorge, and the Page Springs campground. So many wonderful memories were made together on these trips, spending time with the kids and teaching them all he had learned about his beloved Oregon deserts. He loved and had so much knowledge of Oregon that he authored two books about it; Echoes of the Desert published in 1983 and Willamette Journey written in 1984 and published in 2014. Willamette Journey contained pictures of many of his students’ drawings over the years.

Herb tried for five years to secure a job in a one room schoolhouse in the Eastern Oregon desert country, but to no avail. Instead, he took a job in Japan teaching English on a two-year visa, but once he got to Japan, he immediately fell in love with the country, it’s culture, and one of his fellow teachers, Sachiko Watanabe. The couple became friends at first, travelling with a group during their time off from teaching. While they were getting to know each other, Herb shared a story with Sachiko about a time when he got two flat tires while way out in the desert with no help around. He told of how he rolled those two tires, for two days, to the nearest town, then rolled them two days back to his car. Sachiko thought about what a strong and faithful man Herb must be to accomplish that, and she knew then that he would make a wonderful husband. The couple were married by Herb’s minister father in Mill City, Oregon, on August 6, 1987.Herb and Sachiko remained in Japan for 22 years until they retired from teaching.

While living in Japan, Herb became intrigued with bonseki, the ancient Japanese art of creating miniature landscapes on black trays using white sand, pebbles, and small rocks. He wanted to take lessons, but it was a female-dominant art form that excluded foreigners. Masa Saito, a bonseki master he wanted to learn from, spoke no English, but Sachiko eventually convinced her to teach Herb. After 14 years under Masa Saito, Herb took the test to become master, becoming the first and only foreigner to achieve the status of Bonseki Master. Upon retirement in 2007, Herb and Sachiko moved back to Oregon and bought a home in Lyons. He showed Bonseki in school, libraries, and rock and mineral exhibitions around the Mid-Valley. He also began teaching his grandchildren the art. A news article was written about Herb by the Statesman Journal, read more at Also, a Japanese television crew flew to the US to interview him about his love and mastery of the art of Bonseki, watch the video at also published a web article about him at

Herb was a very social person, meeting people and making friends wherever he went. He was a member of the Willamette Agate & Mineral Society, North Santiam Historical Society, and Santiam Canyon Community Chorus. Herb and Sachiko joined the chorus together in January of 2008 and sang with them for ten years until Herb became too ill to continue. The two also enjoyed being members of the Stayton Senior Center where Herb was involved with their writing groups, always getting praise from the other members as they loved to listen to his writing and storytelling.               

Herb was kind and compassionate, larger than life, strong-willed and determined, accomplishing anything he set out to. He was quite the jokester, had a great sense of humor, and loved to laugh. He lived a life full of abundant love, world travel, grand adventure, and constant learning. With his beloved wife by his side, Herb passed away at the age of 78, on September 13, 2019, at his home in Lyons. He will be laid to rest near his parents at Maplewood Cemetery in Scotts Mills.               

Herb will be profoundly missed by his wife of 32 years, Sachiko; children Nathan (Julia) Bastuscheck of Bend, Karin (Rob Christiansen) Bastuscheck of Independence, and Lisa Bastuscheck of Klamath Falls; grandchildren Jessica (Steven Blankenheim) Bastuscheck, Allysa Bastuscheck, Derryk Kennedy, Damon Bastuscheck, and Caleb Bastuscheck; twin great-grandchildren Aeliziah and McKennah and another on the way.               

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, October 5 at 1 p.m. at Weddle Funeral Service in Stayton. He will be laid to rest near his parents at Maplewood Cemetery in Scotts Mills, Oregon.

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Previous Events

Celebration of Life




1:00 PM 10/5/2019 1:00:00 PM
Weddle Funeral Service - Stayton

1777 N. Third Avenue
Stayton, OR 97383

Weddle Funeral Service - Stayton
1777 N. Third Avenue Stayton 97383 OR
United States

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