Lifelong resident and fisherman Felix Villarma dies at 90
February 15, 2023
Felix Villarma, 90, passed away on Jan. 22 in Wrangell.
He was born on Feb. 28, 1932, in Wrangell. "He loved Wrangell!" the family wrote.
"From a very early age, Felix was a hard worker. He cut halibut cheeks, sold scrap fish to the local mink farm, and was a paperboy for the Wrangell Sentinel." He graduated from Wrangell High School in 1949, where he was an excellent basketball player. He also worked as a deck hand on several different boats during those years.
In the fall of 1950, he left Wrangell to attend Southern Idaho College of Education in Albion, Idaho. It was there that he met his future wife, Verda Adams, at a high school football game. "Verda was a cheerleader and couldn't keep her eyes off the handsome guy in the bleachers," his family wrote. "Every time she looked up, he would wink at her. That started their love affair of over 70 years."
Felix joined the Navy in 1952 and was stationed in Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. On May 20, 1955, on a 10-day leave, Felix and Verda were married in Elba, Idaho. Felix had one more year to serve and spent it in Australia and Japan. After his discharge in May 1956, the couple moved to Wrangell.
Felix continued to commercial fish, gillnet, troll, longshore and worked in construction. "He always intended to go back to college, but Wrangell was in his blood." Felix and Verda bought a house and started a family and soon after came Carmen, Craig and Jeff.
Felix retired from longshoring at age 62 but gillnetted until he was 80. He never drove a car but rode his bike everywhere. His motto to all of us was, "Keep Movin'," and he did that until his medical issues made him stop.
"We all gathered to celebrate his 90th birthday in February 2022 and it was a joyous celebration for everyone! Felix loved his family. We are all blessed to have had Felix for all these 90 plus years. All of us have special memories. We love you and we'll miss you so much," his family wrote.
He is survived by wife, Verda, of 67 years; daughter Carmen (Dennis); sons Craig (Margaret) and Jeff (Heidi).; grandchildren Michael (Deanna), Michelle, Mason and Eliza; great-grandchildren Emmett and Miller; sisters Dolly (Dar) Walter, Madeline (Blair) Brainard and Alma (Leroy) Fennimore; brothers Winston B. Davies (Renate) and Dewayne Davies (Debbie); and many more nieces and nephews.
Mass was held at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Wrangell on Jan. 30. He was laid to rest at Sunset Garden Cemetery in Wrangell.