Former Oakdale Irrigation District Director Jack Alpers died Thursday in Oakdale after a long illness. He was 79.
Alpers was first elected to the OID board in November 2001 to represent District 5 in southwest Oakdale. He was re-elected in 2005, 2009 and 2013, but resigned in February 2015 because of health issues.
Alpers was remembered Friday as an astute businessman who asked insightful financial questions and played no favorites during more than 13 years on the Oakdale Irrigation District board.
OID General Manager Steve Knell applauded Alpers for his support of policies and decisions that allowed OID to deliver more water to its growers than most agencies in Central California, especially during the current four-year drought.
“Resource management takes vision. Jack had that vision, plus a passion about OID,” Knell said. “He advanced the district through his efforts and guidance in meeting that vision. He'll forever be a memorable player in the history books at OID.”
Steve Webb served longer with Alpers than any other OID director.
“Jack was there to take care of all of the constituents in the district,” Webb said. “He was very quick with financial information. He could figure out percentages in his head.”
“The guy was an absolute mathematics whiz,” said Director Herman Doornenbal, recalling Alpers’ uncanny ability with numbers. “When we talked about financing or the budget, he was a wonderful asset. I asked him about it one time. He said, ‘When I went to college, I wanted to be one of two things: either a vet or a mathematical engineer.’ I thought to myself, ‘It doesn’t matter. He was a really good vet, but he would have been a good mathematical engineer.’ It was no effort in coming up with the answer. It was a gift.”
Director Al Bairos said Alpers “brought a lot of thought to the board, especially in the financing area.”
“Jack was very dedicated to his role as a director,” said Director Frank Clark. “He had his convictions and stuck to them. He played no favorites and called all issues by the book. He was a good friend and will be missed.”
Alpers was a retired large animal veterinarian who grew up in Oakdale. He had a long history of civic involvement, including terms on the Oakdale Joint Unified School District board, the Oakdale Planning Commission and the Riverbank City Council.
Webb, who was friends with Alpers for decades, said he last visited him two weeks ago.
“I’m sure Jack’s up there fly fishing with his beer in the stream, cigar in his mouth and whiskey at his camp,” Webb said. “He was a helluva man. He had a good heart. He’d do anything for you. He was one of kind.”
When Alpers left the board this year, Gary Osmundson later was appointed to replace him.