Aaron (Butch) Van Vleck died May 2 in Burns.
He was born Sept. 20, 1941, in Placerville, Calif., and was the second of four children born to Elmer G. and Thelma (Pierson) Van Vleck, descendants of long-time pioneer families.
Butch grew up in the small railroad town of Roseville, Calif., and at an early age developed his love of hunting and fishing with the guidance of his father, himself an expert fly fisherman. He also learned the skills that would become his lifelong profession by working alongside his building contractor father from the time he was 10 years old. When Butch’s father died in 1956, his mother and siblings moved to Sacramento, Calif., where he completed his education and graduated from Hiram Johnson High School in 1959. Butch was immediately hired by Granite Construction Co. as a carpenter’s apprentice. By the age of 23 he had already become a superintendent.
Butch married Carolyn Sandage in 1963 and by 1969, with their three children, they re-located to Gaston. Soon after they welcomed a fourth child (Butch’s fifth). Thereafter, he became partners with his brother-in-law Shirley (Jr.) Sandage and Jack Armes to form Armes & Associates, specializing in new construction as well as large additions & remodels. One of Butch’s last jobs before his retirement was supervising the construction of the science building and the dormitory at Pacific University in Forest Grove. Much earlier, he was also very proud of his work on the Little Creek Cove Condos in Agate Beach.
From the time Butch and Carolyn went to Oregon in 1969, their annual vacations were spent camping and hunting in the Eastern Oregon area of Izee. It was there over the years that Butch developed a friendship with cattle rancher Jerry Brown and his wife, Sandy, and their daughter Amanda Zgraggen. When Butch and Carolyn divorced several years ago and after his retirement, Butch moved onto Jerry’s ranch and went back to work — mowing and baling hay, mending fences, branding cattle and helping Amanda in the barn with her pigs. Butch was a great friend to all, worked very hard and truly enjoyed every minute of it!
Butch was preceded in death by his parents.
He is survived by his children, Amy Pardini of Stockton, Calif., Robin Ramirez of Lathrop, Calif., Sherri Spears of Forest Grove, Mark Van Vleck and Jeff Van Vleck; former wife, Carolyn Van Vleck of Cornelius; sisters, Anne Gant of Forest Grove and Adah Haskins of Roseville, Calif.; brother, Allen Van Vleck of Seal Rock; 11 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; one niece; two nephews; and many cousins.
A memorial in celebration of Butch’s life is being planned for later this summer at the ranch in Izee at which time his ashes will be scattered over the country he loved.