Wilfred “Pete” Emil Sylvester

VANCOUVER — Wilfred Emil (Pete) Sylvester was welcomed into the arms of his loving savior on April 15, 2021, in Vancouver. He was born Aug. 16, 1922, to John and Adele Sylvester in Harvester, Missouri.

He attended Zion Lutheran school and was confirmed in the Lutheran church at age 12 by answering all 51 questions correctly. At 18 he started working for Harris Lumber and soon became yard foreman.

Then he was drafted into the Army Air Corps in early World War II. He became a drill instructor at Miami Beach before being transferred to Sacramento to be trained as a mechanic on B-25 bombers. After a brief stay in Italy, he was transferred to Karachi, India where he moved up to Flight Engineer and eventually Flight Commander for the Company Officer. He flew over India, Burma, and China for two years.

Upon returning home after the war, he found his former sweetheart married, his job taken by a man with a needy family and a promised car sold out from under him.

Pete took the advice of a wartime pen-pal, Geraldine Paulsen, and moved to Salem, Oregon where he got a job as a window glazier. He also found Miss Paulsen attractive and married her in 1947 on Valentine’s Day! They built their first house and started a family in Salem. He then managed his aunt’s store in Mill City, Oregon until it burned down. Pete then hired on with Oregon Pulp and Paper Company in the Salem office and soon was offered a managerial position at the subsidiary Opaco Lumber Company in Las Vegas, Nevada. He managed this business for 11 years. After a few changes in ownership, he resigned and moved the family back to a small tree farm in Salem, where he owned a second-hand store for a while, and then wholesaled windows in NW Oregon. He finished a GED so that he could be hired by Boise Cascade and chose to manage a lumber yard in Longview, Washington. He turned this faltering business around quickly and moved his earnings to the top 10% of Bestway Building Centers within two years.

Desiring more independence, he purchased his own lumber yard in Seaview, Wash., Pete’s Lumber and Building Supply. Pete and Gerrie worked this business for 16 years with the help of their five children. In spare time during his working years, he remodeled or built seven houses and started two churches.

In retirement, Pete and Gerrie traveled extensively via motorhome and eventually purchased a snowbird home in Yuma, Arizona. They enjoyed their homes in Salem and Seaview as well. Pete’s favorite place was the tree farm where he could play with his chainsaw and tractor. He also enjoyed growing citrus fruits and caring for dozens of rose plants in Yuma. After Gerrie died in 2011, he lived by himself with his beloved cat, Snoopy II, and remained active until the last couple years of his life.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Gerrie, his brother Milton, and sisters Fanita Hofmann, Evelyn Kueker and Helen Koester. He is survived by his sister, Lynola Sylvester; and by his children and their spouses: Stan Sylvester (Carol), Steve Sylvester (June Canty), Dave Sylvester (Christina), Sandi George (Bill), and Sonya Acampora (Merle). He was blessed with eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

A graveside service was held at Belcrest Memorial Park in Salem, Oregon. Memorial contributions can be made to Yuma Lutheran School, 2555 S. Engler Drive, Yuma AZ, 85365.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.hedfh.com for the Sylvester family.

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