Willard “Willie” Schlegel, 82, a former Elgin resident, died June 26, 2003, at Emmett Rehab & Healthcare in Emmett, Idaho.
The family invites all of Willie’s friends to join them in a memorial celebration of his life on Saturday, July 26, at 2 p.m. at the Stampede hall on the rodeo grounds in Elgin.
The oldest son of Velma and William “Bill” Schlegel, Willie was born March 12, 1921, in Whitefish, Mont. He attended school in Whitefish, where he excelled in sports. In high school he was a member of the all-star team in both football and basketball. After graduation, he moved to Astoria, where he worked as a commercial fisherman, using draft horses to pull large nets at low tide to harvest fish.
In 1960, while working for Schrader Construction out of Portland, he met and married Maxine Nicely of Baker City. In 1961 they adopted their only child, Cass. The family moved all over the Northwest, wherever Willie’s job took them, but eventually settled in Elgin.
Willie was very active in his community. He served on the city council in Elgin, was president of the Stampede Rodeo Club, and operated a fish market, Willie’s Fresh Fish, on the Island City Strip. He founded the Eastern Oregon Timber Carnival in Elgin in 1975 and was president of that organization for three years.
He and Maxine later moved to St. Helens, where he fished every day that he could. Neither bad weather nor poor health could keep him away from his favorite sport. If he wasn’t fishing, he was digging clams or catching crabs along the Oregon coast. He was an active member of the Senior Center in St. Helens and looked forward to helping each year with the center’s annual crab feed.
Due to poor health and Alzheimer’s disease, Willie and Maxine moved to Boise in 1999 to live with their daughter and son-in-law. In December of that year, Willie had a stroke while standing on the patio of his daughter’s home. He fell, hitting a table, and suffered a severe head injury. With the trauma caused by both the stroke and head injury, Willie required full-time care. He became a resident of Emmett Rehab & Healthcare, where he lived until his death.
Willie is survived by his wife, Maxine, who is now a resident of Holly Nursing & Rehab in Nampa, Idaho; daughter and son-in-law, Cass and Jay Vaughn of Boise, and their three daughters, Bailey Joe Vaughn, Carlie Vaughn and Megin Hutson of Grand Prairie, Texas.
Willie was preceded in death by both of his parents; and by his brother, “Buck,” who was just 11 months younger than Willie, and who died in March of this year.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, July 25, 2003
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor