Small Town News


William Wise

The Times-Journal of Condon, Oregon

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William Vernon 'Bill' Wise, 93, was born February 3, 1922, in Wyndham, Montana, the son of Vernon and Lela Salter Wise, at the home of his grandparents, Silas and Addie Salter. He died Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 at his home in Madras, Oregon.

He started school in Mikkalo, Oregon at age four as William Vernon Biddle, and later moved with his family to Ione, Oregon. He graduated from Ione High School in 1939.

He went to vocational school in Pendleton, Oregon where he also took personal flying lessons. He said he washed dishes after school for $6 a week and paid $6 a week per flying lesson. He then worked in the shipyards in Bremerton, Wash, before enlisting.

He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942, and earned the ranks of 1st Lieutenant and Captain by the end of the war. He flew B-24 Bombers in the 13th Air Force, Long Rangers over Borneo in the Philippine Islands.

In 1944, Bill and his crew flew the longest flight (at that time) over the ocean with a crippled B-24 with only two of four engines working. For this flight, he and his crew each earned a Bronze Star.

Before he was discharged, he was married to Freda Mae Schaefer. They lived in Pampa, Texas while Bill finished his military service. After his discharge from the service, they moved to Mikkalo, where they became wheat and cattle ranchers. Over the years, Bill and Freda Mae had seven children — Sharla Louise, William Wayne, Wesley Vernon, Robert Charles, Kelly Mae, David Lee and Pamela Delight.

While ranching and raising a family at Mikkalo, Bill developed various interests, such as boating and water skiing, fossil hunting, learning French and Spanish, and reading non-fiction. He studied the wildlife in the area and practiced photography. He enjoyed flying planes as well as playing his guitar. Family was important to him and every two years he and his family would attend a family reunion at Diamond Lake.

He was a solid member of the Mikkalo community. He took part in group projects, helped his neighbors and took his turns on the local school board. He was someone on whom the neighbors could depend.

Bill's wife, Freda Mae, passed away Dec. 24, 1981.

On June 16, 1985 he married Margaret Christian. He retired from ranching in 1988 and they moved to Madras. Both Bill and Margaret liked speaking Spanish and they traveled to Mexico a couple of times. They also enjoyed playing guitar and piano and singing together; and both enjoyed studying geology and collecting rocks.

Bill is predeceased by his sister, Georgia (Joy) Parker in Ridgecrest, Calif.; his half-sister, Dean Weaver in Florence, Oregon; and his step-daughter, Susan Eichler in Gresham, Oregon.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret Wise of Madras; two sisters, Darlene Hoskins of Heppner and Delight Adams of Oregon City; and his children, Sharla Fischer of Portland, Wayne Wise of Weston, Wesley Wise of Irrigon, Chuck Wise of Condon, Kelly Lemay of Grants Pass, David Wise of Mikkalo, and Pamela Moorhead of Albany; and his step-children, Mary Willson of Puyallup, Wash., Barbara Wise of Weston, Dr. David Eichler of North Pole, Alaska, and Kenneth Eichler of Amity.

A family gathering in Madras to honor Bill is scheduled in November. A graveside gathering at the Olex Cemetery will also take place at a later date.

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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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