Velda Virginia Werner Sutton was born on Oct. 29, 1935, in Normal, Illinois, to William Henry Werner and Ivy Lewis Werner, and moved to Battle Ground at age 5. She passed away unexpectedly on June 28, 2021, in Yuma, Arizona, at the age of 85. She was the youngest of seven children and the last to pass. She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings: Evangeline “Vange” Rose Smithline (1988), William “Bill” David Werner (2002), Oliver “Ole” Wendel Werner (1987), Ivy Louise “Peggy” Pylkki (2003), Theodore “Ted” Lloyd Werner (2021) and Daniel Duane Werner (2012).
Velda married Keven D. Sutton of Amboy on Feb. 7, 1954. Keven passed away in 2007. They were married 54 years.
She is survived by her three children, Velda “Cindy” (Stan) Sawyer, Vivian (Vince) Witt, and Wayne (Suzanne) Sutton. Grandchildren, Josh Joner, Gretchen Brown, Casey Witt, Lucas Witt, Keven Sutton, John Sutton, Kent Sutton and numerous “great grands” which she dearly loved in addition to numerous nieces, nephews, and their families.
Velda developed a strong work ethic at a very young age, working on the family dairy farm and picking crops for the neighbors’ farms. While at Battle Ground High School, she excelled in academics and was a Twirling Majorette, marching in numerous parades including the Rose Parade each year. She worked full time while attending high school as a waitress and short order cook at a local restaurant. After graduation in 1953, she worked as a corporate secretary in Portland. Upon marriage to Keven, she continued to work at everything from picking berries and beans, to hoeing mint and driving truck. Once her children were in school, she became the room mother, Girl Scout leader, and president of the PTA. In 1965, she started driving school buses for the Battle Ground school district and within a couple of years decided to go to college to become a teacher. Three years later with a near 4.0 GPA, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from University of Portland. Neil Armstrong spoke at her graduation. She immediately started teaching while simultaneously working on her master’s degree. Eventually, she earned several master’s and an honorary PHD from the University of Indiana.
While teaching school, she taught at Kenton and Ascension Schools in Portland, Oregon, Lewisville Middle and Battle Ground High School, where she served as a math teacher, rally adviser, athletic director, assistant principal, and eventually principal. She also served as principal of Lewisville Middle School, Amboy Middle School and Prairie High School.
Velda received national attention several times through the years, but none quite as interesting as when a bomb had been planted in the newly renovated Battle Ground High. After calling authorities and clearing the building, she was not going to let her new building be destroyed. She searched out and found the bomb, deciding based on her knowledge of blasting to disarm it. She did just that and then carried it out to a large dumpster and threw it away. By the time the bomb squad arrived, she was ready to get everyone back into school. Beyond helping and working with others, she enjoyed playing piano, stitchery, calligraphy, crossword and sudoku puzzles, clam digging, making incredible food, and cheering for her favorite teams and athletes.
As a mother, teacher, mentor, friend, role model, and leader, Velda was always the very best and literally thousands of her “students” loved her and are better off because of her never-ending drive and energy. She was a pistol and will be greatly missed.
A celebration of life will be held July 23, 2021 at 10 a.m in the Battle Ground High School cafeteria at 300 Main St., Battle Ground, Washington 98604.
flIn lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Amboy Territorial Days Association and Park, P.O. Box 203, Amboy, Washington 98601.