Abe L. Windle, a lifelong resident of Okanogan County, passed peacefully in Wenatchee on Dec. 11, 2018, with his daughter by his side.
Abe was born on Sept. 25, 1947, to Fay and Jeanne (Shaw) Windle of the Methow Valley. He attended school at Pateros and graduated as a 12-year senior with the class of 1966.
From a young age, Abe was interested in engines and all things mechanical: stock cars, motorcycles, and later airplanes and heavy equipment. Abe’s early career as a mechanic led to work for Brewster-area businesses including Goehry’s Chrysler dealership, Gebber’s farm shop, and with his brother at Bill’s Phillips 66. In addition to working on vehicles, Abe rode his motorcycle in competitive events such as motocross and hill climbs. He also enjoyed riding his dirt bike on backcountry trails.
He married Katherine Johnson at Methow in 1969, and Abe and Kathie had a daughter, Gayle, in 1970.
In the 1970s, the Brewster area saw a surge of interest in flying, and Abe joined the local Civil Air Patrol, becoming a licensed pilot. Abe joined several friends in purchasing a small plane and formed a flying club they called Snoopy Patrol. He enjoyed taking family and friends on flights to get a bird’s-eye view of the countryside.
Abe moved on to new employment in the 1970s, joining the Laborers’ Union and working on Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee Dams. He took union-sponsored classes in blueprint reading, rigging, drilling and concrete. Abe served as vice president of his local union chapter and was elected to represent the local chapter at the international convention in Florida.
In 1979, the family moved to Brewster Flat, and Abe planted an apple orchard. Abe liked to grow things and planted fruit trees, grape vines, berry bushes, and was a lifelong gardener. Many successful harvests were brought in with the help of family and special Brewster Flat farming neighbors, George Driskell and the Jack Shaw family. Also in the work force was a vintage tractor originally owned by Abe’s grandfather, Bill Shaw. Abe kept it in service for many years with his mechanical skills.
Abe spent many years as a competitive trap shooter, traveling around to area shoots, often bringing home a trophy. He was a member of the Omak Fish and Game Club, where he enjoyed trap shooting with friends and his two siblings, Bill and Mae.
Abe developed an interest in water well drilling and became a licensed well driller, starting his business, Windle Enterprises, in 1988. Abe drilled irrigation and domestic wells from Lost River in the upper Methow Valley to Nighthawk at the Canadian border and most points in between, including Bridgeport Bar, Aeneas Valley and Daroga Park. Abe enjoyed finding water for customers and developing a successful well. He expanded his business with a boom truck and added a pump service which included sales, service, repair, and installation of deep well pumps.
Abe was also a machinist, constructing metal parts and repairing broken equipment. He passed on his various skills, including welding, to an occasional employee. He also mentored an apprentice to provide the required supervised hours for licensing.
In later years, Abe and Kathie went their separate ways. Abe moved to the Spring Coulee area near Okanogan, where he continued his well drilling business and met many new friends.
Abe had many projects saved up for his retirement years, such as restoring his vintage Dodge pickup. He wasn’t able to get to all of those projects, but he never stopped helping others by working on whatever was at hand that needed repairing.
He will be remembered for his strong work ethic, honesty, trustworthiness and persistence in pursuing his goals.
Abe is preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Bill. He is survived by his daughter, Gayle (Eric) Swigart, and his granddaughter, Sierra Swigart, all of Tumwater, Washington. Also, his sister Mae Thomas of Pleasant Valley and three nieces and two nephews.
The services will be announced at a later date in the spring and will be held when the hills are green at the Methow Cemetery.
Special thanks go to Abe’s dear friends Sheilah Kennedy and Jeff Delfeld for their steadfast friendship and assistance through his medical challenges.