Robert (“Bob”) Eugene Vietzke, 77, passed away after a brief battle with cancer on Friday, Dec. 2, in Othello, Washington. His son was by his side.
Born in Ellensburg, Washington on April 7, 1939, Bob was the son of Robert and Hazel (Richeson) Vietzke. He was the middle of three children all born close in age, with his brother Jerry being a year older and sister Shirley Jean a year younger.
He lived in Ellensburg until 1950, when the family moved to Othello. After graduating from Othello High School in 1957, Bob entered the Navy where he served active duty until July 1961. He served his last year on the carrier Coral Sea in the Pacific Ocean. This is where he started his love affair with the water.
Upon returning state side, he attended Washington State University where he was a walk-on to their football team. He played nose tackle for the Cougs and enjoyed talking about the Apple Cup games, especially the 1963 game. He graduated from WSU with a degree in Education in 1965. He met Sandy Gray while at college and they married in November of 1967. They lived in Seattle for a short while before settling on Orcas Island in the San Juans in 1969. In 1971, the couple welcomed their only son Christopher, whom he adored.
Bob was in construction when he first moved to the island. The first project he did there was cleaning up Moran State Park after the big storm of 1971. He did construction for 6 or so years until he bought a tugboat. Most of his time on Orcas was spent doing tugboat and crane work all over the island. He also did jobs as a Charter Skipper and a stint packing fish in Alaska. He was a man who enjoyed odd jobs, informal days and a love of being outdoors.
In his spare time over the years, he enjoyed riding his BMW motorcycles, sailing, learning to fly (getting both his private and commercial licenses), cheering on his Cougs, traveling to foreign places and spending time with his family and many friends.
Bob is survived by his son Chris (Sally) Vietzke and grandchildren, Blake, Travis and Emma all of Ellensburg, his sister Shirley Jean McCullough of Othello, and numerous nieces and nephews. His parents, his brother, and a niece precede him in death.
He will be greatly missed and thought of often, but he will live on forever in our stories and memories of this wonderful man.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later time on the island. This will be a time for people to share their memories, hugs and laughs, and celebrate life just as Bob would have wanted.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bob’s name to the Orcas Island Senior Center P.O. Box 1653, Eastsound, WA 98245) or to a favorite charity of your choice.