The Enterprise, White Salmon, WA., July 19, 1973, page 1


            Vilas C. Bertschi passed away at the Cascade Villa Convalescent Center in Goldendale, Washington on July 14th. He was born in Washington, August 14, 1896 and had made White Salmon his home for many years.
            He was a farmer during his working years and was a member of the Mt. View Grange #98 of White Salmon and the Pioneer Association of Glenwood, Wash.
            Funeral services were Wednesday morning, July 18, at 10 o'clock at Gardner's Funeral Home in White Salmon, Washington. Rev. Mr. Arthur Davy of the Seventh-day Adventist Church of White Salmon officiated at the services.
            Surviving him are three daughters, Doris B. Kelly of Gresham, Oregon; Hazel Parsons of White Salmon, Wa.; LuEllen Ward of The Dalles, Oregon; twelve grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. 


The Enterprise, White Salmon, WA., July 26, 1973, page 8


            Vilas Cleveland Bertschi was a true son of this part of the world for he lived all his life within a radius of 20 miles or less of B-Z Corners.
            He was born August 14, 1885 to Herman and Molly Cole Bertschi in the area of Panakanic, not far from the present town of Glenwood. There were three children in the family -- one girl, Ludell, and two boys -- William and Vila. "Biz", as they called Vilas, was the youngest, and as full of fun and life as any boy his age. Biz met a sweet, petite maiden, Cassie Belle Leaton and it was a case of love at first sight. The wedding bells rang merrily one sunny day in July when Cassie became Mrs. Vilas Bertschi. Biz and William helped their dad on his farm, so when Herman and Molly died, the two boys inherited everything for Ludell had also passed away.
            "You take the homestead, Biz," William offered generously. "You have a family and I'm just a lone bachelor. I'll build myself a cabin not far from your place and so I can feel and if I'm part of your family.
            The brothers were hard-working and frugal and their farm prospered ... in spite of the days of depression. Six sweet children were born to Cassie and Biz, but only four grew up. Sorrow struck. One baby girl lived only a few hours, and sweet Chester died at 6 months. How the loving parents grieved when the cruel hand of death snatched away their precious little ones and they had to lay them away in the cold, dark earth!
            But they picked up the threads of life for they had to care for their three girls and only remaining son. But if they grieved when their babies died, their hearts were broken when their fine, husky seventeen-year-old Herman was killed in a logging accident.
            Luellen and Doris were home-bodies and helped their mother in the house, but Hazel was an outdoors girl. As the youngest she'd always been very close to her father whom she adored. So when Herman died, it was only natural that she'd take her brother's place out on the farm. While her sisters swept and dusted and did such fiddling bits of things, she drove a team of horses behind the plough, milked the cows and helped harvest the hay. Of course father Biz loved all his children, but is was only natural that this girl who did so much to ease his load, who was so much his "right-hand man" should be the apple of his eye.
            Biz lived in the days before there was a road on the north side of the Columbia; before there was even a bridge across the river, so any time you wished to go to Portland by road you had to cross on the ferry at bingen. But Biz didn't often go to Portland by road. Instead he took the river steamer with the imposing name of "The Baily Gatchett" to-do his selling, buying or just plain trading.
            Mother Cassie suffered from arthritis which gradually crippled her so she had to use a crutch. Biz was very tender towards her and did all he could to make life easier.
            In 1963 he decided to move to a lower altitude in the hopes that since the weather would be less severe at BZ Corners it would be easier for his ailing wife. He bought a fine piece of property and built a neat home along the main road between B.Z. Corners and Trout Lake. His beloved daughter Hazel had married Ralph Parsons, a man whom he appreciated, so he let them live on his farm in Glenwood.
            Cassie didn't improve, however, so Biz decided to sell his Glenwood property to the Government as a Wildlife Refuge. But that meant Ralph and Hazel lost their home so the loving father gave his B.Z. Corners home to them and bought a place in White Salmon, near Northwestern Lake. Two years later, in 1967, his beloved wife died, leaving him alone.
            With his wife gone, his health deteriorated rapidly, so Hazel finally persuaded her father to coming and live with her. But the old gentleman was very independent. He bought himself a trailer house and parked it in Hazel and Ralph's backyard so they could care for him. He enjoyed telling his grandchildren tales of the good old days when life was really rough. With age he became extremely deaf. Hazel persuaded him to get a hearing aid, but he just didn't like these new fangled things so seldom used it.
            Granddaughter Bonnie found that he liked rhubarb sauce so whenever rhubarb came in season she made him some of the delectable sauce.
            He took delight in the dainty wild flowers which the grandchildren brought him for he always was a man of land.
            For months he grew steadily weaker. It was with deep anguish that Hazel and Ralph watched their loved one lose his grip on life. It was hard to realize that the one who had always been so strong was slowly becoming more feeble each day. They did everything to try to steady the flickering flame of life, but it was all to no avail and he passed quietly to his rest at the Cascade Villa Convalescent Center, in Goldendale.
            Left to mourn his passing are his daughters Lu-Ellen Ward of The Dalles, Or.; Doris Kelly of Sandy, Or.; Hazel Parsons of B.Z. Corners, Wa.
            Twelve grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.


©  Jeffrey L. Elmer