Gary Buttice, 69, left Columbia Basin College in the early 1960s to work as a welder on Ice Harbor Dam. Three dams and 50 years later, Buttice is among a few who remember the recording-breaking 115-degree heat, toil and camaraderie among the workers when building the John Day, Lower Monumental and Little Goose dams.
In his off time, Buttice competitively raced trials bikes. His collection of about 20 motorcycles includes the 1957 250cc Greeves that he rode in his winning Tiger Canyon run. He also owned a 1963 Plymouth Sport Fury, which he traded in with a couple thousand dollars for the 1967 model that he still owns.
"I worked with a lot of interesting fellows that had been all over the world," Buttice said. "That's what I figured I'd do too. I had a brand new '67 Plymouth and my trailer and I was still single and I thought I'd move around on these construction sites and see the world, (but then) I got tied up at (Walla Walla Community College) and that's where I spent the rest of my career."
Buttice headed the welding department at Walla Walla Community College for 32 years before retiring in 2000.
Buttice is the focus of this week's Voices from the Walla Walla Valley at wallawallavoices.com.