William Roy “Bill” Veroske


1943 – Entry into Army Air Corps

Wilma and Bill Veroske 2002

Bill at Echo Valley 2006, age 82

Bill & Wilma, May 2019. 75 years married

William Roy “Bill” Veroske  

(8/22/1924 – 9/18/2019)

Born in Chelan, Wash., August 22, 1924, to John and Ina Pearl (Anthony) Veroske 

Passed away in Boise Idaho, September 18, 2019, at age 95. 

Graduated Chelan High School - 1942. 

Married Wilma Helen Cox February 23, 1944.  75 years married.  

Bill was raised in the Ardenvoir region up the Entiat River, Entiat, Wash., in the North Cascades mountains. Father, John, a Polish immigrant, farmed and worked at the nearby Harris Mill. Mother Pearl, from North Dakota, tended to the home, poultry, food animals, the garden and raised five children.  Pearl was active in establishing a public school every 5 miles in the region. Bill attended one of those 1- room schools through age 13, the 8th grade.  That fall, he moved to Chelan with his high school aged brother, Jack, where they rented a small home and attended Chelan schools. Bill spent summers in the Ardenvoir where he gained a Dept. of Labor and Industries permit at age 13 to work in the Harris Mill as “handling box shook”. This was a prized possession that he displayed proudly on his office wall throughout his life.  In Junior High School, he met his future wife, Wilma Helen Cox. A ticket seller at the Ruby Theater, Wilma would let Bill in to sit in the last row where they would hold hands when Wilma wasn’t selling tickets or candy. These Junior High School sweethearts married on February 23, 1944, a marriage that flourished with love and adoration for over 75 years. 

Bill always claimed that in school he wasn’t a very good student. Report cards showed otherwise.  In high school, he was Class President and ASB President. He also excelled in football, baseball and track where he set a Chelan High School record for the shot put at over 50’, a record that stood for 52 years.  In 1994, he helped mentor another CHS student, Michael Young, who then set a new record. He also won a Golden Glove boxing award in 1941 at an Elks/A.A.U. boxing tournament in Yakima.

After high school he attended the University of Washington in Seattle for a semester before entering the army on Dec. 1, 1943.   He served our country for two years in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a B-17 turret gunner, honorably discharged as a Corporal on December 21, 1945.

Following discharge from military service, Bill spent two years in bed rest due to a rare lung disease contracted in Georgia. He busied himself and provided some income by making small pipe cleaner animals  (rabbits squirrels skunks etc.) that local Chelan merchants sold. Following recovery, he worked as a clerk at Chelan Hardware.   He often quoted his father’s financial advice: “Son, always save 10% of everything you earn.”  He credits his discipline to this single statement to his saving enough to make a down payment on the purchase of a decrepit 12-acre apple orchard on the north shore of Lake Chelan in 1950.  His determination, hard work and skills at apple farming became evident when he cured the orchard’s ills in his first year, resulting in success that allowed him to pay off his purchase after his first crop. 

This was the beginning of a 38-year career in the apple industry.  As a land developer, he acquired a succession of land parcels, developed them into highly productive apple orchards and then sold each in order to develop the next orchard.  Throughout this time, he provided summer employment for numerous Chelan junior high and high school kids teaching job skills, accountable work ethics and respect.  He worked closely with Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Experiment Department including dedicating several acres of one orchard to development by its students for experimental planting and tree cultivation. His success led to visits from apple growers all over the world, a cover article in “Grower” magazine, and to his visiting the USSR in 1991 with a contingent of apple growers from the U.S. and around the world. On this trip, he gained a greater appreciation of our free-market system as they visited high quality government orchards but also saw crops rotting in the fields and could rarely find fresh fruits in city markets. Throughout his life after this experience, he liked to quote one resident who stated, “We pretend to work and the government pretends to pay us”.  In 1988 he and Wilma sold their last orchard, 37 acres above his first orchard, to Joe Snyder, Bill’s key employee of 30 years. That property is now the site of Benson Vineyards Estate Winery, one of Lake Chelan’s finest wineries. 

With the support and energetic help of his wife, he contributed extensively to their community.  Many of the organizations they started or contributed to exist today.  Roughly:

1950s:  

Helped establish and grow Echo Valley ski area.

1959 helped establish Cub Scout Pack 59,  acting as its first scoutmaster. Wilma was one of its first den mothers . 

Chelan City Planning commission, City Council.

President of Echo Valley Ski Area

1960s, 70s and 80s:

Mayor of Chelan

Helped establish the Apple cup unlimited hydroplane racing on Lake Chelan.

Coach and occasional umpire for Chelan Little League baseball 

Seven years on National Ski Patrol at Mission Ridge 

Helped established a volunteer ski patrol volunteer program and training at Echo Valley.

Help acquire and install the Echo Valley Poma lift.

Chelan-Douglas Country Farmers Home Administration Loan Committee

Wenoka Credit Corporation Loan Committee

Trout, Inc., Board of Directors

Lake Chelan Recreation Association  

Chelan School District Maintenance and Operations School Levy Committee

President of the Men’s Division of Lake Chelan Golf Club 

Motivating force behind creating the Chelan High School boys and girls golf program.

Helped start a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, drawing teams statewide, to benefit the Chelan High School athletic program.

 1990s and 2000s:

Trustee on the Lake Chelan Community Hospital Foundation Board.  Instrumental in securing a large contribution from Edna Bragg to establish the Bragg Scholarship Fund.  The fund has given over $1,000,000 in healthcare education scholarships to Chelan residents so far.

Helped mentor promising shot put Chelan athletes, helping to guide Michael Young who broke Bill’s 52 year record in 1994.

Was the first and inductee into Lake Chelan High School Hall of Fame along former State Senator Linda Parlette Evans and three others.

Recipient of North Central Washington Educational Service District’s Friend of Children award. 

(Note: True to Bill’s spirit, he entered a BioGift Anatomical Donor program, desiring to give even after his passing.)

In late 2008 (age 84), Bill and Wilma left their home of nearly 30 years on Lake Chelan and moved to Portland, Oregon, to be closer to son, Nick, and their sole grandchild, Ariel Veroske. Bill remained active, golfing in the summer, skiing in the winter, daily exercise walks and gardening. Still an expert skier he made his last run off the top of 9800 foot Mount Bachelor, Oregon, at age 86, still making his signature parallel turns.  He, Wilma and Nick continued returning Chelan twice annually to maintain their lakefront property and visit friends as the recession ravage values, until the property sold in 2014.

Bill had suffered from increasing hearing loss from his time in the Army Air Corps and years of operating orchard equipment. In 2016 he was diagnosed with early stages of dementia. The combined effects of inability to engage socially begin to take their grip. In late 2018 it became necessary to move Bill and Wilma into separate memory and assisted-living facilities. They achieved 75 years of marriage on February 23, 2019. In August, 2019, Bill moved to Boise, Idaho, close to Wilma and their daughter. Wilma was with him at the time of his death holding his hand one more time - and no doubt feeling the love from their junior high school days when they would hold hands in the Ruby Theater, and of a beautiful lifetime together.   

________________________

Survivors include his wife of 75 years, Wilma, age 96 of Boise, Idaho,  son Nick Veroske of Portland Oregon, daughter Sally Hunt of Boise Idaho, and his sole grandchild, Ariel Veroske, of Denver Colorado. 

Bill was preceded in death by his four siblings, brothers Jack and Fred “Fritz” Veroske, and sisters Helen Beamguard Fitzpatrick and Susie Olson Hendrickson.

Precht Rose Chapel, Chelan Wash., is in charge of arrangements.  

Services will be announced later.  Inquires and memories can be sent to Nick Veroske, 3870 NW Banff Dr., Portland, OR 97229; email nick@willamette-equities.com; Cell/Text: 503-577-6903.

Bill wanted this statement in his obituary:

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush, 

I am the swift uplifting rush 

Of quiet birds in circled flight. 

I am the soft star that shines at night. 

Do not stand at my grave and cry. 

I am not there. I did not die. 

(Author unknown)

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