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Theodore Vern Coffelt: 1930—2013 | Passages
Vern Coffelt was born in Westsound on Orcas Island to Amos and Helen Smedberg Coffelt.
He grew up on the Smedberg farm on Turtleback Mountain, the third of four brothers. The family worked the farm for a frugal and healthy livelihood, learning old world farming know-how from his grandfather John Gus “JG” Smedberg. Vern’s father Amos worked on the early freight boats and ferries, and died in 1942.
The family was very young. The Coffelt boys were known for being an active, lively bunch who worked long and hard to make ends meet. Vern and his brothers Jack, Amos (Ed) and Russell all attended grade school and high school on Orcas Island.
In 1950, the family moved from the Smedberg place on Turtleback to the fertile Crow Valley farm. Vern stayed with his mother to work the place now known as the Coffelt Farm.
Helen Coffelt passed in 1955. Vern was left with an active farm and full-time operation with sheep, cattle, dairy, poultry and a hay crop to manage. Vern cherished the farm education he had with his grandfather Smedberg on the Turtleback farm.
Family farms were struggling to survive in those years and Vern found it prudent to find other work for several years to support the farm. He worked in logging and construction and then, in 1960, went to work full-time for Orcas Power and Light Cooperative. In the early '60s, he married Florence “Tony” Howard.
In 1977, Vern and Sidney Reynolds were married and formed a life partnership and team that has carried the farm to the successful operation it is today.
1995, after 35 years of service as line foreman and later operations manager, Vern retired from OPALCO. Vern spent the rest of his life doing what he was meant and chosen to do. He seldom left the farm and put each day to his calling of working the farm. He loved his work and was committed to producing the best quality food he could for Orcas Island.
Aug. 20, 2013 was Vern’s last day on his beloved farm. He did the chores and daily work and then suffered a crippling stroke during the night. He was airlifted to the hospital in Bellingham and then to Whatcom Hospice House in Fairhaven where he rested, was tended to by Sidney and visited by family and friends.
Vern earned his final rest after two weeks in the constant care of Sidney in hospice. He passed on to his reward on Sept. 5, 2013.
Vern is survived by his wife Sidney; sons Tim and John (Sarah); grandchildren Brandon, Kendra, Jordan and Rayna; brother Russ (Jan) and numerous nieces and nephews. Vern was famous for being a favorite uncle.
Vern will be remembered for his legendary integrity, wide and frequent smile and his wonderful, keen and sharp sense of humor.
He had a remarkable ability to play with words and deliver a clear meaning - with a twinkle.
A memorial service for Vern will be held on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. at the Oddfellows Hall in Eastsound. Refreshments are being prepared by the Orcas 4H Fur & Feathers Club.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Whatcom Hospice House.
— Family of Vern Coffelt