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Obituary: Roskelley, Fenton S.

ROSKELLEY, Fenton S. Fenton S. Roskelley (Ross) passed away on January 30, 2013 at the age of 96. He is survived by his three children, Patricia Loomis (husband Bob), John Roskelley (wife Joyce), and Heather Roskelley, as well as six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. His wife and the love of his life, Violet, preceded him in death by 6 months. Exemplifying the virtues of The Greatest Generation, Fenton was a loyal and loving husband for 67 years, a writer for the Spokesman-Review and Spokane Daily Chronicle for over 60 years, a loving and strong guiding light to his children and grandchildren, and a patriot who served his country during WWII. Fenton was born on January 13, 1917 in Franklin, Idaho to Richard and Alice Roskelley. He was the eldest of five siblings - four brothers and one sister. His father, a dentist and fly fisherman, moved the family from Chicago to Challis, Idaho during the depression. Fenton immediately recognized the wisdom in his dad’s priorities - fish first, everything else second - and proceeded to follow this lesson the rest of his life. He became one of the first members of the Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club (IEFFC), founded in Spokane in 1956 and, as a writer for the Spokane Daily Chronicle and then the Spokesman-Review, he became the first outdoors writer and then outdoors editor for these papers. Fenton also wrote and edited the IEFFC newsletter and edited the fly pattern book, Flies of the Northwest. Thus, Fenton was required to do a lot of fishing and hunting over the years, a life in the outdoors most of us can only dream of. There isn’t a river or stream in the great northwest he didn’t walk and cast a fly from its banks; a lake he didn’t know the depth to the inch; or a Snake River draw he didn’t hunt with his friends, Labradors, and Vizslas. Fenton graduated in Journalism from the University of Idaho in 1938, writing the most column inches for a college newspaper. He was hired by the Spokane Daily Chronicle before the war and worked on the city desk covering regional news. Fenton was proud of his service as master sergeant of the 776th Liberty Bell anti-aircraft battalion during WWII, a division of Patton’s army, serving from May 25, 1942 until December 3, 1945 in England, France and Germany. While stationed in Cornwall, England, he met a charming, lovely English girl serving in the British ATS, Violet May Shipman, and they were married during their leaves in England. At the end of the war, he was asked to set up a journalism school in Germany and published a paper for the troops in allied-occupied Germany, The Rhine Valley News. Fenton was an inspiration to all of his children and grandchildren. He continued to fish into his nineties; completed a manuscript of his life’s adventures; contacted friends and old army buddies on facebook; and was performing tai chi just weeks before his death. His newspaper coverage of outdoor sports over the years encouraged and inspired several generations of hunters, fishermen and loyal readers. A memorial service for Fenton will be held at 11am on Thursday, February 7, at Ball & Dodd Funeral Home in Spokane. Following the service, a military ceremony will be held at 2:15pm at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery at Medical Lake. Memorial donations can be made to Spokane Guilds’ School, 2118 W. Garland Avenue, Spokane, WA 99205 or Hospice of North Idaho, 9493 N. Government Way, Hayden, ID 83835.