William “Bill” Chapman passed away peacefully at home on January 21, 2018, surrounded by his loving family, after a short battle with leukemia. Bill was born on January 12, 1936 at the family home just outside of Arden, Washington, to Burt and Annie (Forester) Chapman.
Bill was a wonderful son, husband, father, teacher, and horseman. Horses were a big part of Bill’s life. His first job at the age of 16 was operating a horse-drawn log skidder. Bill spent his life in the woods. As a boy, he hunted with friends, eating everything they shot, running around the woods, getting winter wood. Bill spent his entire life in the forest, working with wood and running his own saw mill for much of his life. Eighteen-year-old Bill met the love of his life, 16-year-old Vonda Williams, in Chewelah. Love quickly blossomed and never faded in the 63 years they shared. One would be hard pressed to pack a life more full of adventure than Bill and Vonda did!
They wed just weeks after she graduated high school and began their life. They would eventually have four children: Tuney Joe, Trudy, Tammy, and Teri, which they raised on their beloved 40 acres. They also cut a rug for much of their lives, dancing the jitter bug at granges and cocktail lounges. There were of course horses, cows, pigs, chickens, and other pets. The children were active in school and 4-H. Bill, always a proud father, was very involved with the children’s lives. Just after little Joe was out of diapers, he had him in the woods, and by about 6 years old, had him learning how to run equipment. They would spend much of their lives working together in the woods and saw mills.
Bill was a natural teacher and loved to make individual projects with his own children as well as their friends. Teri especially caught the wood working bug from her father and still loves working with wood. He had such patience and the ability to know a child’s individual learning style. He made learning so fun. He was also an inventive man; he could modify, mend, and create useful and beautiful machines or things for the home. Bill even made a wood splitter with a conveyor belt that sent the wood into the back of the truck. Bill was a doer, always working or playing and never idle for long. There were many horseback rides and picnic lunches, fishing trips and projects around the house. He and Trudy also shared many memorable rides. She, like her father, had a great love for horses and every spring, when the first flowers would come into bloom, they would ride the trails up Sugar Loaf Mountain. On Father’s Day 2016, they shared what turned out to be their final ride together, up Taylor Flats.
As a young adult, Bill discovered water skiing (taught himself), and there was no turning back. He loved being behind the boat or driving it. He taught many how to ski, and the family spent countless hours on the lakes and river.
Together Vonda and Bill traveled rather extensively for work. They spent some years in Alaska, running a saw mill with Joe. Tammy was not excited about the first move to Alaska, so Bill surprised her with a sled and six dogs so that she would fall in love with Alaska, and she did! The entire family benefited from that decision, in that they all experienced time on Tami’s sled. They also spent time in Oregon in the early years. One year for a family Christmas present, they loaded up all the kids and drove to Mexico.
They drove pretty much straight through in a 1968 Chevy Impala convertible, leaving late in the evening following the school holiday program. They stayed in a little town roadside motel that had a hose running to the sea for showers. They drove back through Reno and Virginia City, stopping to see as many sights as they could. Much of his life was also spent on the road, with many road trips back and forth to Alaska over the years, and in all of that, only one accident with a moose.
As if four kids, animals, full time logging work, dancing, and general life were not enough, they found time for Vonda to own/operate the Addy 395 restaurant for a time when the kids were young. And about seven years ago, Bill decided that Vonda would need a way to make a living if anything happened to him, so he purchased her the Chuck Wagon, thinking she could travel to fairs and festivals cooking her wonderful eats for others. Teri quickly began helping and eventually took over the entire operation, to Vonda’s delight, and still runs it in Two Rivers. During the last year, Bill was really slowed down due to illness, but until that time he was still a very hard working man. In 2002, following his retirement from the saw mill, he was running in Delta Junction, he and Vonda returned permanently to their Addy area 40 acres of heaven, where Bill undertook building her the house of their dreams. He was so talented with wood that the home is filled with his touch. Bill even made wooden outlet covers and decorated each one with a different scene.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents and one daughter, Trudy Bauman. He is survived by wife Vonda; children Joe Chapman, Tammy Powers both of Delta Junction AK and Terri Chapman of Two Rivers WA; 17 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
Bill filled his life with love, family, work and fun. His loving guidance, humor and presence will be greatly missed by all. The family will hold a memorial service/picnic near the river in the summer, per Bill’s wishes.