David Monte Decker, 84, passed away peacefully February 24, 2023. Born in Middletown, New York, he was the son of Samuel and Mary (Lyman) Decker.
In high school, Monte became a lifeguard and competed in football and basketball. He was a state champion pole vaulter. While in high school, he met Marianne Scaglione. They married in 1958 and were together 65 good years. He received a Congressional appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy and passed the exams with flying colors, but his less than perfect hearing disqualified him. He attended Orange County Community College and SUNY Binghampton, majoring in mathematics, and began his career as a draftsman in Endicott, New York.
Monte and Marianne had three children, all born in Endicott. The family moved to northern Michigan in 1965 which was, for Marianne, a huge culture shock after growing up near New York City. Monte, however, was thrilled to be living on the shore of Lake Michigan and was soon entertaining customers with trips on the company boat. He took annual deer hunting trips with his friends and hunted pheasant and partridge with his faithful English setter.
Monte made a career for himself in America's industrial heartland, becoming vice president at several companies. He didn't do it alone, crediting his wife as a big asset in his success. He worked in the steel forging business, a competitive industry that required long hours and TLC for his customers. Executives at some of the biggest corporations in the world came to trust him as a straight talker. He was instrumental in convincing Honda and Toyota to begin manufacturing in the U.S. Even after he "retired" in Portland, he remained in demand. Walker Forge in Wisconsin convinced him to join them in a sales role and he made monthly trips back to the Midwest.
Monte was an avid outdoorsman and nature lover throughout his life. As a child, he enjoyed hunting and fishing and loved going with his father to their cabin in the Adirondack mountains. He would later take his family there for vacations, but the rustic cabin left them less than enthused as they ran to the outhouse trying to escape black flies and mosquitoes. He could not have been happier because he was in “God’s country.”
The 1975 move to Cleveland didn’t allow for much outdoor recreation, so he began taking his two young sons on yearly backpacking trips, a tradition that lasted 26 years. They traveled to New York, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Alberta, Canada. He also started sailing and was part of a crew for the Chicago to Mackinac race for several years. It was during this time that he acquired his pilot’s license, realizing his long-held dream of flying.
In 1994, Monte and Marianne, now retired, moved to Oregon to be near their family. He took his grandchildren camping and backpacking, teaching them to fish and cook over the campfire. With his new canoes he made many trips to lakes near Mt. Hood and southwest Washington. He sailed on Lost Lake and backpacked Mt. Adams and the Wallowa mountains. Once backpacking became too difficult, he bought a camper and made as many trips to the Lostine River as he could. He was always searching for “the greatest trout stream in the world.”
After he became interested in genealogy, he and Marianne took a trip to Scotland and England to explore his roots. He regularly attended the Highland Games in Portland and developed a love for bagpipe music. They also made trips to Hawaii and Italy.
Monte was a gentle, honest, intelligent, funny man who loved his family, his hunting dogs, good whiskey, his wife’s spaghetti and meatballs, Ernest Hemingway and Sudoku. He enjoyed nothing more than a competitive game of Pinochle where his analytical mind gave him an edge.
As Monte’s health declined, he remained appreciative of his wife, who nursed him through several long illnesses and surgeries. He would often remind her that he’d had a wonderful life. His optimistic outlook and sense of humor stayed with him until the end. When asked how he was doing, he usually replied, “They haven’t buried me yet.”
Many days he would step outside, look at the sky and exclaim “God, what a beautiful day.”
Survivors include his wife, Marianne Decker of Beaverton, OR; children, Colin Decker and wife, Andrea of Scottsdale, AZ; Michelle Decker and husband, Jeff Manning of Beaverton, OR ; Glenn Decker and wife, Anne of Rockbridge, OH; grandchildren Colleen Manning, Eric Manning, Jillian Decker and Sam Kula; brother, Jan P. Decker (Lynda); brother-in-law Salvatore Scaglione (Pat); sister-in-law Ida Scaglione; sister-in-law Margaret Scaglione; sister-in-law, Joan Dunn (Randy); and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by sister, Joyce Evangelista; brother, Stewart Decker; brother-in-law, Francis Scaglione; and brother-in-law, Ferdinand Scaglione.
Interment will be held at Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Portland, Oregon.
In memory of Monte, please consider donations to Legacy Hospice, the Nature Conservancy or Alzheimer’s Association.