Verbon E. “Pete” Houck
August 13, 1919 ~ June 22, 2013
Pete died after a long and productive life that was marked by kindness and service to others, an indomitable and infectious sense of humor, and a positive outlook on life regardless of the challenges he faced. Born in Wenatchee, he survived the 1926 Squilchuck Canyon flood that destroyed his family home and killed 16 people. He delivered newspapers to support his mother during the depths of the Depression. While attending Wenatchee High School, he was on the basketball team and played clarinet in the band… both with characteristically modest self-described results. The quiet courage that he demonstrated throughout life was clearly shown during World War II, when he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a combat glider pilot. On December 27, 1945, he piloted a cargo glider… an engineless steel tube and canvas airplane towed by a twin-engine C-47 aircraft… packed with 2,000 pounds of high explosive artillery shells on a mission to resupply U.S. Army forces in Bastogne, Belgium who were surrounded by the German Army. Flying at low speed and 600 feet above German antiaircraft guns, his glider was hit by ground fire and his tow plane exploded, forcing him to land on a snow covered hillside, where he was captured. On a day when he saw many young American and German men die, he also experienced what he often described as the basic decency that most people possess when one of his German guards saved him from a severe beating by other soldiers. Pete later helped the guard obtain food for prisoners and guards alike from local villagers, who were sympathetic because their own men were receiving good care from their American captors. This appreciation for human kindness led to long friendships with former “enemy” pilots and soldiers, and decades of service to the Wenatchee community through the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. After the War, he returned with his wife to Wenatchee, where their family enjoyed the natural wonders that we have here. Pete is well known and loved for his golf, jokes, persistent smile, and willingness to help those in need.
He is survived by his wife, Mary; son, Peter; daughter-in-law, Hilary Stephens; grandchildren, Ian, Simon, and Jocelyn; and many close and dear friends. While he will be missed by family and friends alike, we celebrate the life of a good man who was at the top of his game right to the end. Who could ask for more?
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 28, 2013, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, with Graveside Service at 2:00 p.m. at Wenatchee City Cemetery with Military Honors. Visitation will be held on Thursday, June 27, 2013, from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. with a Rosary at 7:00 p.m. at Jones & Jones~Betts Memorial Chapel. The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, care of St. Joseph Catholic Church. Please express your thoughts and memories on the online guestbook at jonesjonesbetts.com. Arrangements are by Jones & Jones~Betts Funeral Home, Wenatchee.