Charles B. Stegner, 79, co-founder and president of Stegner Grain and Seed Co., died of cancer Monday in the skilled nursing unit at Royal Plaza in Lewiston.

Stegner and his brother, Jack, purchased the Martin Grain Co. in Grangeville in 1952 and e stablished Stegner Grain and Seed. He bought his brother's interest in the company in 1965 and continued to operate the firm with his sons.

Prior to entering the grain business, Stegner owned and operated Western Gas and Power Co. in Lewiston.

He and his wife, Irma, lived in Grangeville for 40 years before moving to Clarkston in 1991.

Stegner was a Republican candidate for the Idaho House of Representatives in 1958, 1960 and 1976 and also made a bid for the state senate in 1978.

He was born Aug. 13, 1914, near Amidon, N.D., to Harry Austin and Ethel Pear Lidstrom Stegner. He graduated in 1932 from West Central School of Agriculture in Morris, Minn., and then farmed in Slope County, N.D., until 1936.

Before joining the U.S. Army during World War II, Stegner worked in Minnesota and Wisconsin as a bank teller, automobile salesman and insurance salesman.

He joined the Army in 1941, attending officer candidate school before serving as a forward artillery observer with the field artilliary in Europe. He served in five major campaigns, including the Battle of the Bulge, and attained the rank of first lieutenant. He was a recipient of the Bronze Star.

He married Irma June Blewett Aug. 30, 1942, in Kendrick.

After the war, Stegner returned to North Dakota and farmed until 1949, when he brought his family to Idaho. They settled in Lewiston, where he owned and operated the power company, and then moved to Grangeville when he purchased the grain business.

Stegner was past president of the Pacific Northwest Grain Dealers Association and an honorary life member of the group. He also served on the board of directors of the National Grain and Feed Association and was chairman of the U.S. Dry Pea and Lentil Council.

He was a member of the United Methodist Church in Grangeville. He also belonged to the Elks Lodge and Lions Club in Grangeville and was a member of the Masons and the Shriners.

Survivors include his wife, Irma, at their Clarkston home; four sons, David C. Stegner of Clarkston and Joseph H. Stegner, Paul D. Stegner and John R. Stegner, all of Lewiston; two sisters, Anne L. Stegner of Minneapolis, Minn., and Idel Frankenberg of Pittsburgh, Pa.; a brother, John L. (Jack) Stegner of Samish Island, Wash.; and 16 grandchildren.

A daughter, Ethel Marie Green, and a sister, Grace Fredrickson, died previously.

The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Vassar-Rawls Funeral Home in Lewiston with the Rev. Patrick Blewett officiating. Burial will follow at Vineland Cemetery in Clarkston.

The family suggests memorials be contributions to the Salvation Army.