Obit Rieford Franklin Burch

Rieford “Frank” Burch

Born on August 15, 1935, on Wells Bench above Orofino, Idaho, Rieford Franklin “Frank” Burch departed from this life on March 4, 2022, with fishing rod in hand to that sparkling stream in the heavens where Cut-Throat Trout, Sturgeon and Dolly Varden wait in abundance.

Frank was raised on the North Fork of the Clearwater River by his late parents, Frank and Odetta Burch. In his younger years, Frank attended school at the mouth of Elk Creek. He later attended Orofino High School, where he took up the sport of boxing and lettered in track.

Frank began working the woods at an early age to make cedar poles with his father, who still used a team of horses. He married Norene Plank in 1956 and shortly thereafter began his own logging company. Frank had first run a bald-face dozer to skid logs at the tender age of fourteen. He carefully honed his skills as an operator and eventually gained a reputation as one of the best operators in the area.

Frank worked on the construction of the sludge ponds for the Lewiston paper mill and for Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association during the 1970s.

By that time, he had acquired a herd of 29 Red Herefords which he managed with the help of his trusted horse, Topsy, at the mouth of Jim Ford Creek. But Frank loved his dozer much more than his Herefords. By the early 1980s Frank was working as a contractor for Potlatch Corporation and continued contract work for the company until retirement. During a long career operating his dozer for soil erosion control, road building, forestry practices and fire suppression, Frank became relatively famous for the installation of “whoopie bumps.”

He was very proud of his self-described “whoopie bumps” and, as all of his friends well know, never missed a Twinkie at “tea time” when on the job. If you were special, Frank might even offer to share a Twinkie with you.

Frank was self-taught as a welder and was an extremely talented fabricator. In addition to performing maintenance on his dozer, he could build just about anything with metal, including flat-bed trailers, vehicle bumpers, gates, stairs, railings and tables. For a number of years during the winter off-season,

Frank worked for Bruce Oakes in Clarkston, Washington, where he built aluminum jet boats. Frank personally built several jet boats for himself. His masterpiece was a 36-foot aluminum jet boat, which he designed himself. It features a steering stick rather than a wheel, under-bow sleeping quarters, a galley, two in-board motors and a unique “V” hull shape that lifts the boat to allow it to skim across the top of the water. Of course, Frank’s fascination with his jet boats was closely related to an affinity for catching Sturgeon and Channel Catfish on fishing expeditions to the Snake River’s Hells Canyon.

Frank was one of six children, including four sisters and one brother. He is survived by three sons: Kevin, Kelly and Keith. One son, Kraig, preceded him in death. Grandpa will be dearly missed by all of his many grandchildren.

A graveside service will be held at Sanders Cemetery on Wells Bench at 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 24.

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