From birth, William ‚ÄúBill‚ÄĚ Vanis Bacon lived the cowboy life. One of nine children, he was born in Oklahoma, July 25, 1925, to Willy Alonza and Atoka (Harris) Bacon, and passed away in Colville on Sunday March 11, 2012. The 1920s and 1930s were hard times in our country and, after ranching in Oklahoma dried up, the kids were loaded into the back of a flatbed truck and they headed West, eventually settling on a ranch in Ellensburg by the mid-1930s.
Bill grew up with rodeo in his blood. His father and grandfa¬¨ther both ran cattle and had rodeo stock. The Bacon family even ran their own rodeos during the Depression. Bill won his first bull riding competition at the ripe old age of 12 and followed with bronco riding, roping and bulldogging.
When World War II broke out, he enlisted and was proud to serve his country. He fought in Germany and was awarded a Bronze Star for his courage and outstanding service in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army.
After he returned from the war, Bill was happy to be back do¬¨ing what he loved, ranching and rodeoing. He moved to Moses Lake, married and had four children. The children worked out, the marriage didn‚Äôt, and when a rodeo brought Bill to Colville, he fell in love with the area he would soon call home. He bought land and set down roots in Ferry County.
It wasn‚Äôt long after that, he met and fell in love with his great wife, Betty, and they married in 1974. They were partners in eve¬¨rything they did, from logging, operating their meat-cutting business, and running ‚ÄúBill & Betty Bacon‚Äôs Saddle Shop.‚ÄĚ They became known for their leather work, including handmade sad¬¨dles, bridles, reins, chaps and hand tooling.
In addition, if there was anything Bill enjoyed as much as rid¬¨ing and working in his leather shop, it was playing music. He played guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, and fiddle, and hosted many get-togethers and barn dances, which were at¬¨tended by lots of you reading this.
Both Bill and Betty became local legends and received the great honor of being named ‚ÄúGrand Marshals‚ÄĚ of the Colville Pro-West Rodeo Parade in June 2007. Bill got a kick out of riding in the mule-drawn wagon, and there were few dry eyes in the house when they rode into the arena that first evening.
Bill is survived by his loving wife, Betty, at home; one daugh¬¨ter, Kathleen Duncan, Colorado; and three sons, William Todd Bacon, Olympia; Gary Bacon, Seattle, and Jeff Bacon, Florida. They all grew up knowing what it meant to perform an honest day‚Äôs work.
He is also survived by five siblings: Juanita Olivette, Wanda Harmon, Barbara Wheatley, and Don Bacon, all of Ellensburg, and Nancy of Federal Way; and four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and three other sib¬¨lings: Lanora Crites, Bob and Jack Bacon. He also leaves behind many loyal friends made over the years that he and Betty valued tremendously.
As you ride on out, our much loved husband, father, brother and friend‚Ä¶enjoy the wind on your back, the sun on your face, and loyal dog at your side. Please save us a place at the hitching rail--we‚Äôll all be joining you by and by.
A memorial service and potluck dinner will be held Friday, March 23 at 5 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Kettle Falls. All friends and neighbors are invited to come help us celebrate Bill‚Äės life.