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Raleigh "Bud" Ellsworth Fletcher passed away at the age of 90 on June 22, 2014 in Coquille, Oregon.
He was born on April 21, 1924 to Maxine and Raleigh Fletcher in Dixon, Montana, the youngest of three children. When the children were quite young, Maxine relocated with them to Cle Elum, Washington where they were raised by her and her second husband, Clarence Walgren. They lived on a mink farm near the town of Liberty and Raleigh graduated from Cle Elum high school in 1941. Shortly after graduation, Raleigh enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, in which he served as a pilot from World War II through the Korean War. His military flight experience and love of flying led him to a lifelong career as a helicopter pilot.
Raleigh married Garnet Lucille Wells (1925 - 2004) in Ellensburg, Washington on March 10, 1946. The couple was introduced by Raleigh's older sister Bette, who worked with Garnet at the Washington National Bank in Ellensburg. Raleigh and Garnet had three children: Bruce Alan (b. 1946), Claudia Jo (1952 - 2000), and Carol Lynn (b. 1954). Raleigh's early career took them from Ellensburg, WA to El Toro, CA; Grand Isle, LA; the Florida Keys and finally back to Culver City, CA, where he began working as a test pilot for Hughes Helicopters. He managed the company's move to Carlsbad, CA and remained in management positions there until his retirement in 1979.
Raleigh and Garnet moved to their retirement property outside St. Maries, Idaho in 1979. They spent many Golden years there raising cattle, chickens and horses; enjoying the warm summers and snowy winters; boating down the St. Joe River; playing bridge at the St. Maries Senior Center; and spending time with friends and family on "the Ranch." They also enjoyed making trips to Reno and attending various WWII and Korean War reunions around the Northwest.
In 2007, Raleigh moved to a property near Myrtle Point, Oregon with his daughter, Carol. Raleigh is survived by his son, Bruce, of San Anselmo, CA; daughter Carol of Myrtle Point, OR; sister Bette Smithson of Palm Desert, CA; granddaughter Kyla Fletcher Pessl of Oakland, CA; grandson Eithen Fletcher of Temecula, CA; grandson Greg Ray and granddaughter Bridget Ray, both of Spokane, WA; great-grandson Konner Olsher of Spokane, WA; and great-grandsons Jakob and Owen Fletcher Pessl of Oakland, CA.
A celebration of Raleigh's life will be held by his family at a later date.
Published in Daily Record from July 23 to July 30, 2014