John ‘Tom’ Hyer

Tom Hyer passed away peacefully at the age of 97, surrounded by his family. His was truly a “life well-lived.”

He was a descendant of one of Sweet Home’s earliest pioneer families, the Thompsons. As a youngster, he attended Beulah Land School on Pleasant Valley Road with his brothers, Jim and Karel, and sister Mona. There, he met lifelong family friends including Blair Smith, Bill, Jerry and Keith Gabriel.

At the height of World War II in 1942, he left high school on his 17th birthday and enlisted in the Navy, joining his older brother Jim. His younger brother, Karel, would enlist two years later.

Tom was trained in underwater demolition as a diver until he was severely injured. He was reassigned to an aircraft carrier as a torpedo man.

There, he developed his life-long passion for flying. While he dreamed of being in that “first seat” as a pilot, that wasn’t an option, since he didn’t finish high school.

Tom returned to his hometown and began a lifelong career in logging. Soon, he would partner with Jerry Gabriel and start G&H Logging.

Over the next decades, G&H would log some of the most challenging timber stands from the Coast Range to the Cascades.

In 1952, he married Betty Devlin. She was the love of his life and three children followed: Melissa, Valerie and Tom.

Tom and Betty had a passion for traveling and visited many countries.

Tom was known far and wide for his work ethic, his generous spirit and kindness. His generosity extended from family to friends and throughout the community.

He was instrumental in fundraising for the Boys & Girls Club, and assisted with the Weddle Bridge project, the high school’s turf field and many other community improvements.

He also had a passion for milling lumber and cutting firewood, and even into his 90s he provided many loads of wood to people in need. He loved fishing, hunting and his beloved dogs.

At the age of 84, he rekindled his love for flying with his first powered parachute. His rainbow-colored chute was a familiar sight around Sweet Home.

In 2013, he was awarded an honorary high school diploma alongside his youngest grandson. He was proudly named First Citizen by the city in 2008, and Linn County Veteran of the Year in 2018.

He is survived by daughter Melissa and her husband John; son Tom and his wife Carolyn; six grandchildren: Luke (Emily) Schmidt, Ben Schmidt, Allison Hyer, Kyle Hyer, Zane (Lacey) Wise and Quin Wise; and four great-grandchildren: Leo, Sasha, Avery and Henry.

Tom was preceded in death by his wife, Betty; his daughter, Valerie; brothers Jim, Karel and Del Bryant; sister Mona Waibel; his mother, Audrey Bryant; and step-father Floyd Bryant.

A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at the Sweet Home Elks Lodge.

Sweet Home Funeral Chapel is handling the arrangements.