Luther Harris Dean
PORTLAND — Luther Harris Dean of Mathews Road, Portland, passed away peacefully at home on Aug. 3, 2021, after months of declining health and is now resting in the arms of his loving savior.
Born June 19, 1942, in Dunkirk, N.Y., the son of Alvan Dean and Marian (Johnson) Dean. Luther graduated from Brocton Central School in 1960 and attended Jamestown Community College.
Luther lived his entire life in Portland, having carried on his ancestor’s tradition of farming. Behind Luther is a great deal of family heritage and local history, the story of an agricultural empire made, lost, and then rebuilt. Luther’s Great Grandfather Gilbert Dean, who served as NYS Supreme Court judge in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., passed away in 1879. Gilbert’s son Luther/Ross Dean, then in his 30’s, moved to Brocton and at the time of his death in 1918 farmed about 450 acres of grapes and was one of the largest growers in Chautauqua County. Ross died at a young age but his wife, Emma Corell, ran the business until everything was lost during the great depression.
Luther’s father, Alvan, was able to buy the farm located on Webster Road, Portland, from the Federal Land Bank. It was here that Luther lived until he was married. When Alvan be-came seriously ill in 1963, Luther left college to take over the family farm that comprised of growing grapes and tomatoes. After 10 years Luther took complete ownership of the business and purchased the former GLF building in Brocton, which served as the packing and shipping plant until 1995.
It was a very tenuous and bold move for young Luther but over the following years he expanded the business to become one of the biggest agricultural operations in Western New York.
From 1973 until 2009 the farming business grew to include 400 acres of tomatoes, 400 acres of field corn, 35 acres of grapes, and a thriving retail and wholesale greenhouse operation.
On Feb. 17, 1968, Luther married “the girl next door,” Eileen Pratt and they celebrated 53 years of marriage earlier this year. They moved into a house that Luther built on Fay Street shortly after they married and lived there for 42 years.
He is survived by his wife Eileen; two daughters, Karen Hall from Eden, N.Y., and Michelle Williams of Pelham N.H.; five grandchildren: Mckenna, Jessica, Trip, Brynn, and Brady; and his sister Evelyn Suppo of Fairport, N.Y.
Luther is a current member of the Tri-Church Parish in Brocton but was raised in the Salem Luth-eran church in Brocton. While at Salem Lutheran he sang in vocal choir and later served on the admin-istrative council and was president of the board for at least two terms. At Tri-Church Parish, he served several years ago as Administrative Board president and was a current member of the trustees.
When he was 18, he joined the Portland Fire Department and remained a member until his death. During this time he served one term as fire chief, was captain of the First Aid squad, taught first aid classes, and served on the Board of Commissioners.
In the late 1970s and 1980s Luther served on the Portland Town Council, serving as Deputy Town Supervisor during his last term.
In spite of being super busy with the business and involved in the community, Luther did take time for re-creation. For over 35 years, he and his family took a fishing vacation up on the French River in Canada. It was these times spent to-gether as a family that meant so much to him. He and Eileen enjoyed sharing the memories of these ad-ventures right up until his passing.
When he was around 18 years old, he bought and restored a 1931 full-sized fire truck that he enjoyed entering in local parades. He and Eileen have always loved the outdoors and enjoyed hiking, cross-country skiing, and canoeing.
He was a kind person that was always willing to help. He was completely devoted to his family and cherished his wife, daughters, and beautiful grandchildren.
The family wishes to ex-press gratitude to so many who have helped them through this difficult time, Dr. Donald Brautigam, Hospice and their unfailing support and guidance, Trina Linn, and their Tri-Church Parish family. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Portland Fire Department, Hospice of Chautauqua County, or Tri-Church Parish.
Visitation will be held at the Tri-Church Parish, 35 E. Main Street, Brocton, N.Y., on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, from 10:30 a.m. until the time of services there at 12:00 noon with the Rev. Clara Wilder officiating. Burial will be private in Portland Evergreen Cemetery.
Funeral arrangements are being cared for and provided by the MORSE FUNERAL HOME, 51 High-land Ave., Brocton, NY.
To leave Luther’s family a condolence or share a story, please log on to; www. themorsefuneralhome.com