Dale Allan Tonseth 82, of Twisp, passed away in Brewster, Washington, surrounded by loved ones on Dec. 28, 2022. Dale was born on Sept. 12, 1940, to Helen and Carrol Tonseth in Methow, Washington.
After graduating from Pateros High School in 1958, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served at Fort Bliss earning commendations for Sharpshooter, Marksman, Good Conduct and Letters of Appreciation. He was honorably discharged in 1965 and he returned to the Methow Valley and went on to have three children, Daniel, Michael and Katrina Tonseth. In 1978, Dale married his wife, Judy, and became a beloved step-father to Lori Northcott.
Dale spent his career working for the U.S. Forest Service, beginning in 1969 with the Pasayten Ranger District, which later became the Winthrop Ranger District, until he retired in 1994. During that time, Dale spent many summers in the Pasayten Wilderness running trail crews, and later in his career he oversaw the mining permits in the district. Lori was lucky enough to spend time with Dale riding in the Pasayten. He was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the mining history of the Methow Valley. He served on the Okanogan County Historical Society and the Shafer Museum Board.
It was Dale’s vision and creativity that was the origin of the Shafer Museum mining display. He and a small crew of likeminded characters were able to locate, disassemble, move and reassemble most all of the mining equipment one can see at the Shafer Museum today. After retiring, Dale built a small cabin on a mining claim in the Slate Creek area and spent many hours there with Judy, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was happiest when exploring those old mines, creeks, and claims and then sitting on the deck of the cabin reflecting on the beauty and history of that special place.
Dale was the kind of person who could build a house, operate heavy equipment, shoe a horse, pack a string of mules through the wilderness, identify every mineral found in the state of Washington by sight, cook a steak over a fire, and build clubhouses, wooden toys, and parade floats for grandchildren. He was curious about how things work, history, and weather: and would often watch the weather at Harts Pass to check the snow depth and temperature. Dale was a member of American Legion Post 143 and the Methow Valley United Methodist Church.
Dale was predeceased by his parents Helen (Hole) and Carrol Tonseth and his brother Richard. He leaves behind his wife, Judy; children Daniel, Michael, Katrina and Lori; grandchildren, Jade, Mariah, Aspen, Zane and Reed; and three great-granddaughters. He also leaves his brothers William (Doris) and Robert (Fannie). Dale had a special connection with his niece Grace, and nephews Sam, Nolan, Josh, and Milo. Nolan was a kindred spirit and spent many hours at the cabin with Dale exploring and taking in the Grandview. Nolan was by Dale’s side during his final hours and eased the hearts of our entire family.
A service will be held in the spring, and donations can be made in Dale’s memory to Aero Methow Rescue Service or the Methow Valley United Methodist Church.