Gene Raymond Verley, age 94, passed away at “Welcome Home” (AFH) in Chehalis, Washington, on April 29, 2023. The family is grateful to owner Jessica Colin, and to the Assured Hospice team, for their gentle and compassionate care of Gene in his final days.
Gene was born on August 31, 1928, in Yakima, Washington, to Earl Edward Verley and Julia Nimsic Verley, and grew up in B.Z. Corner, Washington, where his parents built “The Logs Lunch” café in 1932 (The Logs Inn is still there today). Gene attended Husum Grade School, then Columbia High School in White Salmon, graduating in 1947. He lettered in football and baseball all four years. After high school, he served in the Merchant Marines, worked in the local timber industry, and sporadically attended Central Washington State College (now CWU), accumulating two years of credits.
In 1950, he married Shirlie Jeanette Tebbs, a 1949 Columbia graduate. They started a family and put education on hold while they worked and saved. In 1957, the family moved to Ellensburg so both Gene and Shirlie could attend college full-time. Gene graduated in 1958 with a B.A. in economics and minor in education. He also played two years of varsity baseball.
The family then moved to Castro Valley, California, where Gene began his teaching career at Parson’s Elementary School, while also attending San Jose State University evenings and summers to earn his Master’s Degree in Business Education in 1964.
Gene taught business courses (typing, bookkeeping, accounting, business machines & computers) at W.F. West High School from 1964 to 1988 and was Department Chair for most of those years. He coached Bearcat Baseball for five years and served as ASB Advisor, overseeing ticket sales and crowd control for all Bearcat home sports events.
When he wasn’t at school, he was working outdoors. The Verleys bought 45 acres from Robert Kennicott in 1965 and Gene built the family home atop Kennicott Hill. Gene managed his 37-acre tree farm for 50 years and ran a small saw mill and planer, turning blow-down and thinned trees into useable lumber. He harvested the timber in 2019 and re-planted in 2020.
When the work was (mostly) done, Gene loved camping with his family, fishing, hunting and skiing in the Washington Cascades, digging razor clams and surf fishing on Washington beaches. After retirement, he and Shirlie spent winters in Arizona where he fished for bass in Lake Havasu and researched his family history. Gene was an avid sports fan his entire life. He was a voracious reader, and even learned to navigate a Kindle during the Covid-19 years. He was a lifetime member of F.O.E.(Eagles) and B.P.O.E. (Elks).
He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Shirlie (in 2010), his youngest son, Shane (in 2017), and almost every other relative of his generation.
Gene is survived by his daughter, Susan Kay Verley, and son Steven Ray Verley (Debbie); grandchildren, Zane Ray Verley (Erin), Adam Eugene Verley and Sara Lynn Hinkey (Jacob); 11 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren (which afforded two 5-generation photo opportunities in 2021/2022) and scores of nieces/nephews, great-nieces/-nephews and cousins.
Gene’s legacy lives on through his descendants as well as the hundreds of young lives he impacted in the classroom for 30 years with his wry wit, easy-going and relatable style, and indefatigable passion for the power of education.
In lieu of flowers, consider donations to Assured Home Health & Hospice, the Parkinson’s Foundation, or Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
There will be a public memorial celebration at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 10 at the Chehalis F.O.E. (Eagles). A private family inurnment will take place in White Salmon, Washington.
Arrangements for disposition through Cattermole Funeral Home.
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