Vance Witt

Celebration of Life

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Saturday, July 28, 2018
Peterson's Red Barn
1605 Caples Road
Woodland, Washington, United States

Obituary of Vance Witt

Vance W. Witt

Battle Ground, Washington

November 3, 1925 ~ July 8, 2018

Vance William Witt was born November 3, 1925 in Mill City, Oregon to Wilma and Wilhelm Witt.  In 1927 Wilma remarried to Ernest Johr.  Vance spent his childhood on Sauvie Island on dairy farms that his parents operated. 


Grades first through fourth, Vance rowed a boat across the Multnomah River channel to go to school in Scappoose.  Fifth through eighth grade Vance attended the two room school house on Sauvie Island.  Vance and 4 other students graduated from the eighth grade in 1939. 


In 1939 due to Ernest’s poor health after a fall from the barn roof, they moved to Milwaukee where Vance went to high school for a few years. Not happy with city life, they started looking for a dairy in the area.  This is when they moved to Woodland in December 1941. 


Vance at 16, decided not to attend Woodland High School because it didn’t offer classes, like engineering, he had been taking in Milwaukee HS.  He continued his education by correspondence courses, and got his GED.  He kept very busy working on the dairy and farming.


Ernest, Wilma and Vance operated the dairy until 1947 when Vance married Lillian Banholzer March 22, 1947.  Vance purchased the dairy from his parents and the Johrs retired to Portland.


In the 1940’s the dairy had the typical two story wooden barn with the hay loft on top and the milking area below.  In 1949-50 Vance built a concrete milk house and milking barn. The barn housed 32 cows and still stands today.


In 1946 Vance had purchased a surplus amphibious Duck just for the fun of it.

The day before the 1948 flood in Woodland, Vance took his Duck to Kalama and spent all day and part of the evening helping remove belongings from homes that were flooding along the Kalama River.   That evening Vance was too tired to stay in Woodland to stand watch on the dike, so Joe Zumstein Jr. spent the night patrolling the dike with the Duck.  It was in the early morning that the dike broke and Joe took the Duck out on the flooded Bottoms to help where he could.  For the next few weeks before the water receded, Vance and his Duck were available on an on-call basis.


In 1962 Vance and Lillian bought an 80 acre farm 2 miles from Woodland.  It used to be the Zybach dairy.  Having the extra barn and pasture allowed Vance to increase the herd size and raised replacement heifers.


In 1967 Vance sold the herd and the dairy farm.  For a year he tested milk for DHIA (Dairy Herd Improvement Association), a federal government program for dairymen  to help improve production.  Vance went to their dairy farms and collected the milk samples for each cow.  The results were recorded and analyzed taking into consideration the feed the herd was being fed and recommendations were made to the dairymen for better production. 


During this year with the DHIA he met many of the dairymen in southwest Washington.  He saw a need for a steady, reliable supply of quality alfalfa.  He bought a truck and trailer, and became a bonded dealer so he could buy and sell alfalfa. At one time he had 4 trucks operating.   He commercially bought and sold eastern alfalfa for 25 years, retiring in 1994. The secret to his success was “knowing” quality alfalfa hay, the growers, the dairymen, milking cows, and always being honest.  He put over a million miles on the road in those 25 years.


From 1994 until 2014 Vance with the help of family in the later years, still operated the beef operation on the 80 acre farm. 


In 2013 he moved to live with Lucy for three years and two years in an adult care home, The Elders Nest.  Many thanks to Cherene and Michael Beatty and staff of The Elders Nest for the wonderful, loving care they gave Vance these past few years.


He was preceded in death by his father, Wilhelm Witt, stepfather Ernest Johr and mother Wilma Johr and his loving wife Lillian in 2009.  He is survived by his sister Elinor Benjamin and numerous nieces and nephews and his cousin, Ursula Bassett.  He is also survived by his five children: Lucy Witt (Don Tingley) of Yacolt, Eileen (George) Soli of Shelton, Vince (Vivian) Witt of LaCenter, Roy (Mary) Witt of Woodland, and Kathy (Will) Wisbeck of Mukilteo;14 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren, 


Vance was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.  We all have memories of him spending time with us, batting a baseball to practice catching the ball, swimming after a long day haying, playing card games, especially pinochle, and Mexican Train, a domino game.  He loved to travel on long RV trips exploring the US west of the Mississippi River.  We can remember making hay and getting it in the barn or filling the wood shed with fire wood. We worked but it was fun. He was a disciplinarian and we all knew our boundaries.  Chores were assigned.  We grew up in a loving, supportive family,where there was lot’s of laughter.


In 2013 he moved to live with Lucy for three years, then two years in an adult care home.  Many thanks to Cherene and Michael Beatty and staff of The Elders Nest for the wonderful, loving care they gave Vance these past few years.


He will be laid to rest at the IOOF Cemetery (Kerns-Bozorth) in Woodland at a private family service.


Friends and family are invited to a Celebration of Life Saturday, July 28, 4 p.m. at  Peterson’s Red Barn, 1605 Caples Rd. Woodland, WA.  Casual, blue jeans welcome

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