Freddie Russell Vessey, 87, of Stites died Dec. 22, 2019, in his home with his family by his side. Freddie was born Jan. 17, 1932, to Fred and Nelly Vessey in Lewistown, Mont. He had three brothers and one sister.
In Freddie’s younger days he lived with his parents and siblings in between the Patronic Homestead near the Andrew Fergus Horse Ranch. Their home was located near his grandfather JC Vessey’s ranch in Fergus, Mont. Freddie attended the Fergus schoolhouse while he lived there for about five years. Then sometime in 1937, Freddie’s father Fred, and grandfather JC, both decided to sell their cattle ranches and move. They all ended up moving one mile east of Roy, Mont., to what was known as Armells Creek. While living in Roy, Freddie used to help his father haul water to the Roy school, for drinking water where Freddie attended.
One day, Freddie and Fred went to the Roy Depot to fill up the tank on the 1925 Chevy truck they drove, and they were informed that the train would be coming through at any time. Since there were no baffles in the tank, they were only allowed to fill it up halfway. While headed to the school, they went around a corner and turned the truck onto its side, causing Freddie to get shot out of the canvas top. He also ended up with battery acid all over his brand new pants that his mother had just bought him. Freddie’s classmates witnessed the truck on its side and they all ran out of the building and helped tip the truck back over. When Freddie and Fred got home that afternoon, Freddie’s mother discovered that his pants were completely ruined. She was not happy and told Freddie he wasn’t allowed to go with Fred anymore to haul water.
In 1947 Fred and his family decided to locate to Stites. Some of Nelly’s family lived in Idaho and she missed it very much. When they got to Stites, they bought the old Joseph Teft Farm on Battle Ridge Road, above Stites. Freddie ended up finishing his school years at the Stites Schoolhouse, where he met the love of his life Patricia Vessey (Skinner).
In 1949 Freddie graduated the 8th grade and decided he had enough of school and went straight to work with his dad at the Twin Feathers Mill in Kamiah, even though he was quite too young at the time.
In 1951 Freddie married his sweetheart Patricia Skinner. They ended up being married for 57 years. Shortly after they were married, Freddie got drafted into the Korean War. Luckily, he got sent to Germany for occupational services for two years.
When Freddie got home in 1953, he decided to go back to Twin Feathers Mill for a while, until he got a job at a planer mill in Kooskia, owned by Gwen Shear. Shortly after that, he was hired on to do concrete work on the Dworshak Dam in Orofino. He spent five long, hard years working there and even received two coins for having worked so many hours.
During the time he worked at the dam, he was blessed with his first son, Russell, then Robin, then soon after Reuben.
In 1981, Freddie and Russell bought the Cory Lumber Company in Kooskia, also known as South Fork Lumber Company. Freddie and Russell spent a lot of years and time running that mill, and it ran pretty steady up into the early ’90s.
Freddie is preceded in death by his wife Patricia, two brothers, Jay and Danny, parents Fred and Nelly, uncle Donald, and his highly talked about grandfather JC Vessey.
Freddie is survived by his sons Russell, Robin, and Reuben, his sister Donna Holliman, brother Rodney Vessey, six grandchildren, Nick Vessey, Danielle Main, MaryAnn Vessey, Alan Vessey, Marie Edelman, and Michelle Raymick, and two great-grandchildren, Madelyn Camden and Scarlett Main.
Freddie was a simple man; he worked hard for everything he owned. Freddie was the kind of man known for helping anyone in need, even if he was quite busy himself. You could always find him, even up into his early 80s, helping his son Russell with his cattle ranch, or out tinkering on Model T cars. He sure was a jack-of-all-trade.
The funeral service will be held at noon Saturday, Jan. 4, at Trenary Funeral Home in Kooskia. Burial will follow at Fairview Cemetery near Grangeville.