Elmer Wotring Rappé passed quietly in his sleep on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, at Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak.
He was born in the Omak Hospital on Jan. 22, 1926, the youngest child of Elmer Otto Rappé and Ione Iris Wotring Rappé Stumpf. Except for six years in Ferry County, he lived his entire life in the Okanogan/Omak area. Prior to graduating from high school he had enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served from 1944 to 1946. His notice to serve began with boot camp at Farragut, Idaho. From there, he proudly served aboard the U.S.S. Iowa B61 as an Electrician mate, 3rd class (EM3c). His active duty was spent in the South Pacific, where he was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal “2 star,” the World War II Victory Medal and the Philippine Liberation Medal “1 star.”
Elmer had visited the U.S.S. Iowa in 2013 where it is kept in San Pedro, California. While there, he became friendly with the tour guide, explaining to him — for hours — the mechanics of the communication system on the vessel. Elmer’s recollection and stories of the era could keep you spellbound for hours.
Elmer worked for the Ferry County Roads Department for six years, during which time he built his family home in Curlew, Washington. He also worked for the Ford Motor Company in Omak, and moved his family to Omak. While working for Hamilton Farm Equipment for many years, he traveled all over Okanogan County repairing farm equipment.
He and partners Jim Rhemke and Wayne McCorkle formed their own repair service, known as “Machine Clinic,” in Okanogan, where he worked until his retirement. Elmer continued to work outside the home for another 15 years.
In 1982, Elmer and Nora Light Philmon were married. Together they built their log home in the Chiliwist Valley, south of Malott. Building a log home was one of Elmer’s life-time dreams. He and Nora, at one point, kept 17 head of horses and one mule. Horseback riding was a favorite pastime. Many times when family and friends were visiting, every animal was saddled. He and Nora covered many trails, right from their ranch. The ranch was called “Mules Plus.” Mules were raised for a short time and the plus stood for the many cats, dogs, chickens, burros and horses. Together, they made several trips into the Pasayten Wilderness. Other times, weekends were spent over trails leading from the Methow, Chewuch and Twisp rivers. He was a long-time member of Back Country Horsemen.
Elmer was always ready to help neighbors, and many of them checked with him to see if he had what they sought before heading to town.
Elmer is survived by his wife, Nora; children Thomas Rappé, Steven (Kathryn) Rappé, James Rappé, and Karen (Jim) Miller; step-children Dianna Michaels, Dennis (Joan) Philmon, Sharon (Jim) Holland, and Leslie (Michelle) Philmon; 13 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by both parents, sisters Alice and Irene, and brother Charles.
Services for Elmer will be at 1 p.m. on Monday (Jan. 19) at the Okanogan Eagles Lodge, 1820 Second Ave. N., Okanogan, with Trygve Culp officiating. A potluck will follow the service.
In lieu of flowers, contributions are suggested to the Malott Fire Department in memory of Elmer Rappé.