A theme of mourning and loss continued in Yakima Valley in 2021. The COVID-19 toll was more than 300 people in 2021 in Yakima County, and many families have delayed memorial services until. to this year due to COVID precautions. Every life lost for some reason left a void that was impossible to fill.
Here is a small selection of some of the notable figures who died after leaving their mark in the Yakima Valley. It is by no means exhaustive.
â¢ Bill wheeler, 86, died December 30, 2020. He came to Yakima in 1976 to become President of Dowty Aerospace, now Triumph Aerospace. He served as president of Yakima Downtown Rotary and served as president and board member of Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital for 24 years. He was also president of the Memorial Foundation.
â¢ Carol Hassen, 77, died on January 2. She was an artist and former director of Larson Gallery in Yakima and Gallery One in Ellensburg which supported and promoted local artists. She launched the popular annual Tour of Artists Homes event and established a foundation at the Larson Gallery. These efforts earned him a Governor’s Arts Award from Washington Governor Gary Locke in 2001.
â¢ Chuck austin, 95, died on January 25. He was an increasingly rare “three wars” veteran, having fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam during his many years as a Navy. After retiring from the Marines in 1967, Austin worked another 20 years for the US Postal Service in Yakima. A new veterans housing project at the old armory that opened this fall bears his name.
â¢ Dr. Douglas corpron died on February 3 at the age of 92. He was a physician who cared for vulnerable populations in rural Thailand and rural Yakima, and helped launch the Washington University Family Medicine Residency at Yakima in 1975. He was a advocate for the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy and Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.
â¢ Local music teacher Jeff martin, 66, died on March 29. He has passed on his passion for music to others, from his own children to countless students in the Yakima Valley. He also did manual labor for community members, contributed to the Yakima Valley College clock tower, participated in the Vintiques of Yakima Car Club, published a children’s book, and helped found the Bible Believers Baptist Church in the early 1980s, where he led songs for years. .
â¢ Sunnyside Lawyer Alex newhouse, 41, died on July 25. He began his legal career in Yakima for the Department of Appointed Counsel in 2007, before entering private practice. His firm, Newhouse & Power, has handled a range of cases, from protection orders to transfers of ownership. He left his mark on the area by painting the Superman Tower on Snipes Mountain, visible from Interstate 82. He loved music, trucks and art, and had a soft spot for people and animals in need. help, his family wrote.
â¢ One of Yakima Valley College’s most successful basketball coaches, Ellwood’s stock, 89, died on July 21. Crosier’s coaching career began in 1958 at what was then known as Yakima Valley Community College. Along with his duties as a psychology instructor, Crosier took over as head coach in 1964 and compiled a record of 292-104, winning the NWAACC titles in 1966 and 1976. As the women’s coach of the YVC, he had an overall record of 231-88, resuming consecutive NWAACC Championships in 1990 and 1991. He was also an orchard, hay farmer, and crop insurance expert, and he and his wife owned several businesses: Residential Fruit Stand, The Magic Kitchen and lots of Christmas trees.
â¢ Florencio Gueta Vargas, known to his family as Jose Cortez Avila, 69, died in 90 degree weather on July 29 while working in a hop field at Virgil Gamache Farms near Toppenish. His death came amid a record-breaking heat wave that scorched the region with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees for consecutive days in June and July. The Yakima County Coroner’s Office said the cause of death was atherosclerotic disease with heat as a contributing factor. His death was among more than 210 in Washington and Oregon attributed to the heat wave, prompting the state Department of Labor and Industry to issue emergency rules protecting those who work in the outside.
â¢ Yakima Police Sgt. Joe deccio, 38, died on August 3 of heart disease, the first YPD officer to die in the line of duty. He was a corporal in the U.S. Army National Guard and deployed on Operation Iraqi Freedom-II as a cavalry scout with the 81st Brigade. During Deccio’s 15 years in the Yakima Police Department, he served as a patrol officer, field training officer and sniper for the SWAT team, and coordinated school resource officers and units of police dogs. His last assignment was to work in the property crime unit as a detective sergeant.
â¢ Carmanita Pimms, 58, died on August 21. She was the executive director of The Campbell Farm, a Presbyterian ministry mission near Wapato, and a citizen of the Yakama Nation. She is remembered for her cooking, her participation in many community events and her caring nature. After becoming executive director of The Campbell Farm, Pimms built strong community outreach efforts that included a feeding program to help children, the homeless and the elderly.
â¢ Leslie RenÃ©e Baer, 66, a well-known St. Elizabeth Hospital employee, espresso stand owner, real estate agent and animal lover, died on September 8. Baer grew up in the Seattle area before moving to the Wenas Valley, where she had a farm and tended the horses. , goats, dogs and cats. She will be remembered within and beyond the regional animal rescue community for her work to save homeless feral cats and dogs through Wags to Riches and My Neighborhood Ferals.
â¢ Doug bettarel, 76, who owned Better All Auto Sales in Yakima, died on September 19. He served in the Navy aboard the USS Kitty Hawk during Vietnam and quietly helped veterans and those in need. He loved motor racing and was a long-time supporter of Yakima Speedway, having operated it for a few years before it was sold out earlier this year.
â¢ Chief of the Yakama Nation and Advocate of the Indigenous Vote Matthew Tomaskin, 58, died on September 21. He was a longtime legislative liaison for the Yakama Nation and served on the Yakama Nation Tribal Council from October 2001 to March 2004. He served in the US military and among the projects he championed was the Legislative Assembly project. 2013 decision to designate March 30 as Vietnam Veterans Welcome Day.
â¢ Blake nelson, 35, died suddenly at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital on October 22. He was a volunteer firefighter with the Naches Fire Department for two years and fought fires across the country for 15 seasons previously as a wildland firefighter with the US Forest Service. He was a devoted father of three and an avid outdoorsman. The Naches fire chief said Nelson died in the line of duty.
â¢ Axel Acosta Avila, 21, from Tieton died Nov. 5 at the Astroworld Festival in Houston. He was a student at Western Washington University, where he studied computer science. He spent his free time building computers, cooking and playing with his young nieces and nephews.