Vernal "Vern" Willcox

Born: Tue., Sep. 16, 1941
Died: Fri., Aug. 10, 2018

Celebration of Life

1:00 PM Fri., Aug. 31, 2018
Location: Grecian Heights Park South

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Vern Willcox was a local boy who never strayed far from his roots. This is not to say he didn’t travel far and wide; he just had a goal of spending life in Eastern Oregon.

Vern was born in Dayton, Wash., on September 16, 1941, to Hazel Alice North and Vernal Clifford Willcox. The family traveled extensively due to his father’s career in construction. High school graduation took place in Bend, Ore. Soon after the family relocated to La Grande, where Vern entered Eastern Oregon College.

After two years at Eastern he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Assignments sent him to Turkey, Germany and California. He developed expert ability with a rifle, earning several marksman medals.

Halfway through his armed forces commitment he married his high school sweetheart, Diane Fish. Upon his honorable discharge they headed back to La Grande. Their future plans were driven by Vern’s goal of becoming an elementary teacher.

Vern was recruited by the Pendleton School District and known as “Mr. Willcox” for the next 32 years, teaching sixth grade at six schools. Mr. Willcox’s love of teaching and working with kids ran deep. Vern lived at his schools, working long hours each day, on most weekends and taking classes during the summer. He wrote many creative programs: Outdoor School (he helped Jim Christensen start) and yearly overnight field trips to Portland (OMSI and the zoo) were his two favorites.

After retirement, Mr. Willcox bravely volunteered to help first grade students navigate their daily assignments in Liz Nirschl’s class. He stayed for 16 years. He also took over the helm of Reading is Fundamental, an organization that distributes a new book to kindergarten through fifth grade students. Being a “hands on leader,” he worked tireless hours with his volunteers. (This incredible program is not available in most other Oregon communities.) Vern was dedicated to his Lord. From helping build the Free Methodist Church to his recent medical challenges, he faithfully served at all levels, from leadership positions to one of his favorites, greeting people at the door.

Serving the Pendleton community in numerous ways, Vern’s favorite activities not only included those mentioned above but the Pendleton Parks

Department and Retired Teachers Association. Working with these groups and many others, this dedicated man was able to help support his home town.

Vern and Diane are the parents of Denice and Clifford and grandparents of Krisstoff Willcox, Jadzia, Ian, and Tristan, all of Pendleton. Organizing family camping and boating outings around Oregon brought much joy to Vern.

There will be a “Celebration of a Life Well-Lived” at Grecian Heights Community Park by the covered/ playground area on Friday, August 31, 2018, from 1-3 p.m. Family, friends, colleagues, and past students are all invited to share stories and enjoy this celebration.

In memory of this outstanding educator, please make contributions to Pendleton Outdoor School Memorial for Mr. Willcox and send it to Pendleton Pioneer Chapel, 131 S.E. Byers, Pendleton, OR 97801.

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Condolence Booklet

   Posted Sun August 12, 2018
You will always be in my heart Vern. I feel blessed to have met you and Diane, and you have touched my life.

Much Love,
Your Flower Girl - Mollie

Judi Emerick
   Posted Mon August 13, 2018
I am so sorry to hear of Vern’s passing. He was an amazing man of many talents with a wonderful sense of humor. My hugs and prayers are with the family. He loved you all so very much. He will be greatly missed.

Tanya Hunt
   Posted Mon August 13, 2018
To all of Verna family I'm sooo very sorry to hear of vern passing he was a great man and he truly will be missed. HUGGS and PRAYERS. May you rest in peace Vern

Dorothy Gay Peterson
   Posted Tue August 14, 2018
Diane so sorry to here of your loss. I know it must be difficult for you right now. I am away helping my son move or I would come see you. You and Vern have been an example of true love throughout your life. I know he is in a better place and you will once again unite with him there. May your memories of him continue to hold you strong in your faith. God is with you always.

John Taylor
   Posted Tue August 14, 2018
I will never forget that fateful time when we were shooting hoops at Washington Elementary one evening and when I returned the ball to my room I discovered that the new sink in Vern's classroom, which was directly above my classroom, was leaking and my classroom was seriously flooded. Great times! Vern will be missed.

Susan Morrow Winter
   Posted Tue August 14, 2018
Diane, I am sending healing and loving prayers to you and your family in this time of loss. Please take pride in your love and dedication to Vern. Although I've never met him, that you chose him as your husband and soul mate must mean he was a great guy.
Maybe I'll be able to attend an upcoming Uke jam again, and we can visit more personally.
Love and prayers, Sue Morrow Winter

James pedro
   Posted Wed August 15, 2018
He was one of my favorite teachers
I will always remember him referring to the circluar file cabinet aka trash can
Great memories of outdoor education
He was special
Condolences to his family

Brad Bixler
   Posted Wed August 15, 2018
Please accept my heartfelt condolences. Vern was a friend, an educator, and a mentor, but I know to his family he was so much more. Vern was a man who gave more than he took and because of his humor, passion, and devotion to the education of so many students in the Pendleton community, he will be forever remembered as a wonderful teacher.

Marge Normington-Jones
   Posted Thu August 16, 2018
I will miss seeing Vern at the retired teachers meetings. He was a lively man and we had some great discussions. He gave many volunteer hours to the Pendleton community and he will be sorely missed. I hope your happy memories of Vern will ease your pain. God bless you all.

Scott Moreland
   Posted Fri August 17, 2018
it was a pleasure getting to know both of you recently. I wish I could have known you two throughout your lives.
Remembering Vern's student travel stories and the beaded american flags. Hopefully, someday we can make the tour inside the Pittock mansion. God's speed Vern.

Your friend.

Patti Clark
   Posted Fri August 17, 2018
Vern was a person full of joy and that joy was contagious to everyone around him. He was a wonderful teacher, friend, and family man. Lifting you and your family up in thought and prayer. He will be greatly missed.

Cliff willcox
   Posted Fri August 24, 2018
Dad you were an amazing father,husband ,and teacher I miss you so much you taught me so much and hope one day I'll be half the man you were thank you for being my dad I'll always love and miss you

Jennifer Nice
   Posted Sun August 26, 2018
Grief is a reminder that we loved, and were loved. So very sorry for your loss. May the Pearce, of God, be with you.

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