Tim Roetman

Tim Duane Roetman, a longtime resident of Rockport, passed away Sun., Oct. 10, 2010, at St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham, Wash.

He was born in Woodstock, Minn., on July 30, 1922. He graduated from Akeley High School. He was just a Minnesota farm boy, Dutch to the core, raised by a father who decided that his four strong sons would be working that farm. So his work ethic was acquired at an early age. He had great “marks” in school, but college was out of the question. The farm came first.

About that time, he met Dorna Lemon at a dance in a neighboring town. Tall, strong, and handsome, he was easy to notice. Mom liked to tell the story about the first time she saw Dad. He was in the parking lot of the dance hall, lifting up cars by the bumper, by himself! Always had to impress the ladies! But of course, the cars were much smaller then. The sparks flew, and the romance began.

But the war got in the way, and he was drafted quickly. He was tested, and again, did very well, so the Air Corps sent him to Ellington, Texas, to flight school. Meanwhile, Mom had become a teacher, had begun teaching in a one-room schoolhouse, and lived for her “fly-boy’s” furloughs. On June 12,1943, they met in St. Louis, Mo., ran down the street (yes, a long gown and a dozen roses clutched in her hands), and got married. Two days together and Dad was shipped overseas to Bungay, England, with the 8th Air Force, 707th squadron, 446th bomb group. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.

He flew in the biggest air raid over Berlin in the history of WWII. He was a navigator and flew the famous Liberator, B-24 (Goin’ My Way?). They had missions all over Nazi-occupied Europe. Right off the farm, scared to death, flying in sub-zero temperatures; those leather jackets were not issued just to look cool. It was really cold in a B-24. For the rest of his life, he blamed the poor circulation in those huge hands of his on frostbite during the war.

He came home in 1944 and began a farm of his own, but Mom’s family had come to Washington, and the young couple decided to make the trip too. By this time they had four children. They settled in Burlington, Wash., and Dad went to work on a farm. The work was hard and the days were long. They moved to Marblemount, Wash., soon after, and have lived there since that time. He worked at several places, and then went into a logging business.

After several years, he began a contracting business, and Roetman Construction was born. He built many of the local state parks, and many buildings, water systems, etc. In the meantime, after 40 years of marriage, he lost Mom. She died in 1984.

In February 1997, he married Rose Casarez of Blythe, Calif., and they lived in Quartzsite, Ariz. He met Rose the same way as he met Mom: One look and she walked out of the American Legion Club in Blythe with Dad, infatuated with the handsome old guy in the cowboy hat. But April 1 would come around, and he longed to get back to his beloved Marblemount, and fish and hunt, and work. Then after Thanksgiving, he would take off for the winter to Arizona.

Dad outlived three of his children. That was difficult for him. He never really recovered after Gary’s passing two years ago. They had worked together and lived together for many years.

He retired two years ago, really, but still did the odd job around town up on that backhoe. Thanks to the Clark family, he was getting up in the morning, whistling while he went out the door, backfilling that water system at Clark’s Cabins. So happy to be “back in the saddle again.” That was just two months ago. How many people would hire an 88-year-old guy to do that? He was always busy, ran when he could have walked just as well, and had the stamina of a much younger man until age finally came knocking at his door. All of a sudden, my big, strong, larger-than-life daddy got old. And it was hard to witness, because he never gave up. He still tried to do it all. He was a child of the Great Depression, and life was hard when he was a child. He never liked waste of any kind after that. He was a member of “The Greatest Generation,” and they didn’t call them that for nothing! Hardly ever without the cowboy hat, he was still the boy off the farm right until the end. He worked hard, played hard, and loved hard. He had a positive outlook, and always tried to find the best in people.

He became very ill suddenly, and was gone in just five days. I laid my head on that big chest for the last time and heard his last heartbeat, and I let my old cowboy go. He was my protector, my confidant, and my daddy. I will miss him forever.

He is survived by his wife, Rose Casarez Roetman, of Blythe, Calif.; a daughter, Vicki (Mike) Frank, of Concrete; four grandchildren, Tim Roetman III and his wife Shanon, Dianne Aamot and her husband Doug, Michael W. Frank and his wife Kimberly, and Danielle Frank; seven great-grandchildren, Ian Roetman, Justin Roetman, Owen Aamot, Gianna Aamot, Jocelyn Krieg, Ethan Frank, and Isabella Frank; two brothers, Marinus Roetman Jr. of Akeley, Minn., Alvin Roetman of Zimmerman, Minn.; a sister, Katherine Elmes of Anchorage, Alaska; and stepchildren Ida Marie Peebles and her husband Bob, and Ray Armenta and his wife Sarah.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Dorna; his daughter, Dianne Roetman; sons Tim D. Roetman Jr., Gary Roetman, and an infant son Terry Roetman; and his brother, Jacob Roetman.

A Life Celebration Memorial Service was held Fri., Oct. 15, 2010, at 1 p.m. at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Concrete with Pastor Marcus Stroud officiating. Memorials are suggested to the Doug Voss Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Summit Bank (now Columbia Bank) in Concrete.

Arrangements and Cremation are under the care of Lemley Chapel, Sedro-Woolley. Please share your memories of Tim and sign the online guestbook at www.lemleychapel.com.

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