Alvin Kesterson 1929-2013

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Alvin KestersonOn Thursday, June 27, 2013, Charles Alvin “Big Al” Kesterson of Elkton, Ore., founder of The Big K Guest Ranch peacefully passed from this world into heaven.

Over the past 20 years, thousands of our guests have been welcomed with Alvin’s warm smile, sparkling blue eyes, and massive but gentle handshake.  Many were fortunate to hear Big Al’s wonderful tales from his adventures working and hunting on the ranch, and fishing the famous Umpqua River Loop.  His love, understanding and relationship with nature was evident throughout his life.

In addition to founding the Big K Guest Ranch, Alvin was a partner in Kesterson Brothers Logging Company, livestock rancher, farmer, timber manager, hunting and fishing guide, community leader, and served on several service organizations and boards throughout Douglas County.

He was born, raised and lived his entire life at the family ranch near Elkton. He grew up alongside his father Keith, mother Myrtle, brother Virgil, and sister Vera.  After marrying his beloved wife Wanda, together they raised five children; a son, Charlie, and four daughters, Charlene, Kathie, Shirley and Linda.  Alvin felt endless pride and joy in experiencing six generations of his family living and working together, and their legacy of hard work and strong family bonds.  In addition to his core family, Big Al was known to offer and provide his loving home to others in need.

Alvin Kesterson Alvin Kesterson Alvin Kesterson Alvin Kesterson Alvin KestersonAlvin loved the small town, country lifestyle and committed his life to the stewardship of his family ranch.  After 84 years, few in this world can claim that they took their first and last breath in the same room – in his case, the century-old family farmhouse located near the entrance of the ranch.

Alvin was a rare individual who was not only a dreamer and visionary, but also had the extraordinary ability to make things happen.  As a result, he generated an endless circle of friends and family who respected and trusted his wisdom. His legacy and memories will live on in their hearts forever.

The Big K families and staff would like to thank you for your prayers and would love to hear your favorite memories and stories with Big Al. Please share them below.

A Celebration of Life in honor of Big Al will be held at the Big K Guest Ranch Lodge near Elkton on Sunday, July 28, at 5 p.m.

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  1. kares4kats says

    What a wonderful legacy. I was most fortunate to attend a Casting for Recovery retreat, as a participant breast cancer survivor. This was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Being at the Big K Ranch for those 3 days was all apart of the healing. Thank you and please know my prayers for comfort are being said.

  2. Amber Williamson says

    I’m grateful to this man for so many reasons and will always cherish the memories and experiences we shared. Fishing the Umpqua Loop with Alvin was more than fun – he told amazing stories and always knew where the fish were biting. Teaching me how to cook a decent pan of gravy as a newlywed. Holding each of my newborn babies in his enormous hands, weathered and worn from years of ranch work. Visiting him and Virgil at the ranch house – they shared a true brotherhood and love that was exceptional and which I feel so fortunate to have witnessed.

  3. Charlie Prince says

    I just learned of Alvin passing. My heart is overwhelmed with sadness–but so thankful to have spent so many hours in the company of this gentle giant of a man.
    I could write an entire book based on the things he taught me about life, hard work, loyalty, the Umpqua River Valley, hunting, fishing–I could go on and on…
    You made my life and those of so many others richer for having known you Alvin. God Bless and rest your soul…you earned it.
    With love,
    Charlie Prince

  4. Ruby Haskell says

    So sorry to hear of Al’s passing. I know he will be missed by family and friends. He was always such a wonderful, happy person when people came to visit. My heart goes out to you all. Hugs

  5. Mike Nelson says

    I’m am honored and blessed to have been touch by Alvin during my life – from assisting me on my first wild turkey to the countless stories he shared with me and most of all giving us a such a wonderful place in the Big K and the loving & generous family that runs it. Alvin may you rest in peace and you will not be forgotten by me and many others.

    Your Friend,

    Mike Nelson

  6. I’ll never forget the day back in 2001 I was sitting in Roseburg, OR DMV office. I took my call ticket and decided to site in the back near the door. I knew I was going to wait quite a while. So in walks this big guy with a black cowboy hat on. His face was red and weathered. I thought to myself this must be one of the original cowboys. Low and behold he sat down right next to me and after a spell we struck up a conversation. Being from another part of the country I had heard stories about big salmon in the Umpqua. So I thought I’d share that there are some big fish in the river. The guy replied, “You know something about fishing?” I said oh yea you can catch some big one down near Elkton. I mentioned the Clemo hole and he chuckled. He replied “Yea I heard about fishing on the Umpqua”. I said, “You know about fishing?” He said, “I know a thing or two. I own the Big K Ranch”. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe I was sitting next to Big Al Kesterson. My parents had told me stories back in the 1980s about the Big K Ranch. In my mind those stories were what legends were made of. That was a good day.

  7. Jim Buckley says

    Oh my. I worked for Alvin during and right after high school in the early 70s. Alvin was a good man, always quick with a smile and praise, ALWAYS fair yet stern when it was called for. He was a mentor and like a father to me. I’m so sorry I lost touch for so many years and now saddened that I didn’t have the chance to tell him how he influenced my life. I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I had not had the experiences on the ranch and later logging in the Coast Range. His trust in me as a person, my abilities, and my judgement encouraged me to be better and to strive to do the right thing. God Bless you Alvin. May you watch over your little piece of Heaven here on earth.

  8. Bill Birkholz says

    I met Al for the first time more than 25 years ago. I was 14 at the time. The Big K was my first exposure to real rural ‘small town’ America. Every few years since then I think about ‘big’ Al. I am not sure why. I probably had less than 20 conversations with him over the years. He was just the kind of kind man you remember (especially as a kid). Anyway, my dad and I returned to the ranch every summer of my high-school years. Some of the best memories of my life. This July I am taking my son to the Big K for the first time. What a legacy Al left!

  9. My wife and I spent our Honeymoon at the Big K Ranch in October of 1993. Alvin and the Kesterson family treated us like family and made our stay wonderful. Will always remember Salmon fishing on the river with him and the great stories that he told. May he rest in peace.

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