Wayne Thomas Clasen, loving husband, father, and friend to many passed away peacefully at his family home on February 29, 2020.
Born in Yakima October 16, 1945, Wayne was the youngest of 3 children. He was a sweet and kind child that gave new meaning to “curious.” Wayne tended to walk a fine line of facing thrill or injury on a regular basis. He was very involved in the Youth Group at Wiley Heights Covenant Church and attended West Valley High School where he was on the cheer squad. He continued his education attending YVC and then attended Whitworth College in Spokane where he was involved in photography, founded the University Ski Team and graduated with a BS in Business Administration with a minor in Psychology.
After college, Wayne entered the US Marine Corps as an Engineer Officer in 1968. He graduated from basic training in 1969 from Quantico, VA. Wayne advanced in his military training as Superintendent and Foreman of his architecture and contracting units. He later served in Vietnam for nearly a year as a 1st Lieutenant and was later promoted to Captain before he received an honorable discharge in 1974. At the time of his discharge, Wayne was a decorated officer and awarded many medals for his service, including: National Defense Medal for service during a National Emergency, Vietnam Service Medal, as well as a Meritorious Unit Award for valorous achievement in service. Wayne kept his military service stories close and shared little, but he was very proud of his service to his country.
After Wayne left the US Marine Corps, he returned home to Yakima where he joined the family business as Co-Owner of Clasen Fruit and Cold Storage. This family business was incorporated by his father and uncle in 1935 as they managed their own orchards, and opened a storage and shipping plant in the 1940s. While in active duty, the family business was growing with support of other family members. Wayne initially oversaw the company orchards and land owned by his siblings as well as took part in public relations to facilitate new business with growers around the Yakima Valley. Later, his position as Vice President included managing operations of administration as well as the supervision of other land investments. Wayne’s deep appreciation of the employees and staff who were part of Clasen Fruit never went unnoticed. Wayne always found ways to express his gratitude for their commitment to help the business succeed. Wayne was dedicated in his work helping to manage and grow the family business and also took immense pride in the roots his parents planted in the Wiley Heights and Yakima Valley. Wayne’s heritage extended to Wiley Heights Covenant Church from a young child and he continued to be involved and volunteered much of his time serving on many boards throughout his adult life.
Wayne’s real passion in life was to always find fun. He loved traveling to sunny destinations, boating, water and snow skiing, golfing, and he even experienced a few epic white-water rafting trips to the Colorado River with friends Steve and Mac. Wayne was always picking up the newest edition of “Auto Trader” and enjoyed working on his classic car collection (especially Chevys and Corvettes). Every summer was a highlight in Priest Lake, ID or any lake, where Wayne could show off his sun-tanned skin while driving his decked-out boat. It was always a thrill for his kids, their friends, nieces, nephews and family to watch Wayne water-ski like a pro and command the attention of the whole beach while he humbly walked off the dock to bask in the sun.
Wayne’s family was a source of tremendous pride to him. He spared little when it came to ensuring everyone felt welcome and always “had a good time.” Wayne’s life was full of fun, laughter and smiles. This was usually accompanied by a mischievous prank or an inside joke that was typically retold multiple times. Wayne’s playful nature and endless shenanigans made for countless memories and stories that usually started with, “Remember when Wayne suddenly disappeared and…”
Wayne was a very kind, patient (sometimes stubborn), generous man with tremendous class. It would be difficult to share a story about Wayne without a smile or a laugh… he will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved him.
Wayne is survived by his wife of 43 years Sandy, daughter Wendy (Mike) Heit, son Gavin (Crystal) Bepple; grandsons Steven and Samuel Snipes, Billy and Brandon Pool and Michael D. Heit; sister Nancy Grimes; brother Gene (Sherry) Clasen; brother in law Reese (Connie) Harper; seven great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, and many dear friends.
Preceding him in death are his parents Gotfred Clasen and Joyce Clasen Thorssen, stepfather Al Thorssen and brother in law and great friend, Randy Grimes.
Visitation will be March 20, 2020 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Keith and Keith funeral home. A Funeral service will be held March 21, 2020 at 11:00 am at West Hills Memorial Cemetery with military honors.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a church or charity of your choice.
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