Some closure after body of grandfather is discovered

Amanda Wolfe had been studying in the Hannon Library Sunday when she received news that a five-month search for her missing grandfather was over.

Her dad called to tell her, but spotty cellphone service prevented her from getting the whole message at first.

"All I could hear was that they found grandpa," Wolfe said.

A 20-year-old sophomore studying elementary education, Wolfe ran outside to confirm. The body of 87-year-old Truman Tollefson had been found, five months to the day after he'd gone missing.

A Rogue River man on the hunt for firewood spotted Tollefson's vehicle, a 1981 Buick Century, near milepost 9 of Upper Grave Creek Road at 11 a.m. Sunday.

A body, whom police believed to be Tollefson's, lay nearby. Authorities do not suspect foul play. The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office is expected to confirm the body's identity this week.

"I'm doing OK, just because it's good to know that everything's over," Wolfe said. "It's also really sad to find out he isn't alive."

Tollefson disappeared on Dec. 5, 2012. He'd gone on a couple of errands, first to the bank, then to Safeway. It was a routine he'd done many times before. The last known image shows him in Wells Fargo Bank at 5:13 p.m. When Tollefson failed to return home, Medford police and Jackson County Sheriff's Department's Search & Rescue combed rural areas across the region, from the ground and air, looking for him.

"All evidence indicates that it's a situation where he got disoriented, confused, drove up into the middle of nowhere and died as a result of exposure," said Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.

"I don't think we're ever going to know why he took a right or a left," Budreau added.

As days turned into months, Wolfe said she and other family members began to come to terms with Tollefson's disappearance.

"We kind of moved on. Now it's like we have to relive this all over again," she said.

"It's really hard for me to picture him and understand that's how he died."

Family members said Tollefson was lucid and did not exhibit signs of dementia prior to his disappearance.

"That's the only part that you're like, 'What the heck happened?' How he got from point A to point B in such a wrong manner," Wolfe said.

Wolfe added she and her family can now start to move on, though Tollefson will be missed. She remembers him as a selfless man and hard worker who loved sports and his family. He was a chocolate fan and shared that love with chocolatey gifts he gave to family members.

"He always had something for you," Wolfe said.

Wolfe also remembers riding in Tollefson's old Chevy pickup, the one he named Walter. Because of that, many of Wolfe's family members have also named their own cars.

"I think that's probably my biggest memory of him," Wolfe said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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