PROSSER — Bud Hamilton and his sister Joyce Melton grew up embracing Maynard ‘Friday’ Koen as an adopted family member, working by their father’s side as a loyal farmhand.
The 81-year-old Friday disappeared Sunday, Aug. 15, 1993, after leaving Prosser around 7 p.m. Melton intensely recalled how weather conditions had turned nasty with thunder and lightning on that fateful evening.
They both knew a phone call disclosing the whereabouts of the man affectionately revered as their “Grandpa” would come someday.
On Monday, Oct. 21, authorities contacted Hamilton and informed him that the skeletal remains of a man identified by his driver’s license as Koen, had been recovered.
A scuba diving couple near Hat Rock State Park on the Columbia River in Oregon, located a submerged red Ford Ranger truck and reported their discovery to the Umatilla Police Department.
“It was still a shocker when the call came,” Hamilton conveyed. “It’s a bittersweet thing, but we’re glad we know for sure what happened to him.”
The Prosser community all felt they knew Friday and embraced him as their own. Everyone joined in on the early search for him, Melton, a Burbank High School teacher warmly reminisced.
She spoke from outside her classroom remembering how he attended her wedding and was always taking part in their family functions.
As word spread throughout Prosser that Friday would be soon coming home, a sense of closure was found.
“We always thought of him as ours, only to find out many community members also claimed him,” Hamilton stated. “It’s nice to know we weren’t the only ones who missed him.”
Maynard Koen already had a headstone in the Prosser Cemetery. “We placed it there many years ago,” Melton acknowledged. It reads – “He was a great man. Whom the whole community loved.”