Willard John Kellie, also known to his friends as Willie, passed away peacefully on October 7, 2019, at his home in Stevenson. He was 89 years old.
Willard was born in Wauneta, Neb., on April 27, 1930, to William Joseph Kellie and Alta Viola Skinner Kellie.
Willard served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War from 1951 to 1954. He also served in Texas and Washington State with his brother William “Bud” Eugene Kellie.
Willard started working as a cabinetmaker with his father and brother, Bud, in Selah/Yakima.
In the 1950s, he moved to the Stevenson/Carson area.
He worked at the Stevenson Co-Ply while using his carpentry skills for Nels Meagher at the local Chevrolet dealer. In 1957, he then started working for the Columbia River Log Scaling and Grading Bureau, where he worked as a log scaler for 33 years and 6 months.
He then retired on Sept. 1, 1990 and enjoyed 29 years of retirement.
On June 30, 1973, he married his love Betty Louise Brigner Hildenbrand at the Lutheran Church in Stevenson, where they made their loving home for 45 years. Willard and Betty were joined at the hip until she passed away on Jan. 9, 2019.
After retirement, Willard enjoyed using his exceptional carpentry skills to help his family and others whenever asked.
His greatest forte was collecting wood burls and making them into his characteristic clocks.
He was very meticulous and precise with every project he created, and this is how he lived his life.
He enjoyed his family and always “said it like it is.” He was a strong, honorable, and dedicated man. He could be best described as “tough as boiled owl.” He loved visiting with his friends and called it “cussing and discussing.”
Willie was an avid fisherman. He would get up at 2 a.m. to hike out to Kellie Point at the mouth of Wind River, and here he could be seen fishing for several hours.
Willie and Betty fished several areas in the Columbia River Gorge in their boat, and on the banks.
The highlights to their fishing were the trips to Alaska, staying in Ninilchik, as well as fishing the Cook Inlet, the Kenai, and the Little Su River in the Wasilla area.
He is survived by his sister, Shirley Jean Kellie Diagneault,; son, John Kellie, wife Aggie, Wasilla, Alaska; daughter, Mary Kellie, Carson; daughter, Susan Kellie Gross, husband George, Underwood; step-son, Robert Hildenbrand and wife, Hetty, Carson; step-daughter Carole Hildenbrand, Vancouver; grandchildren: Laurie Kellie, Chad Gross, Doug Gross, Michael Kellie-Follings, Nathan Gross, Nikki Gross, Victoria Kellie, Cordelia Kellie, Whitney Kellie, Joseph Kellie, Kimberly Kellie, Maurice Hildenbrand, and Amanda Hildenbrand Dales, and several great-grandchildren.
Willard was preceded in death by his father, William Kellie; mother, Alta Kellie; brothers, Ed, George, Bud, sisters Charlotte and Alta; wife, Betty Kellie; and son, Steve Kellie.
A memorial service will be held at Gardner’s Funeral Home Chapel on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, at noon; 1270 N Main Ave, White Salmon; reception to follow.