Ronald D. Wailes Jr. was born and raised in Edmonds, Washington and when he was 15 years old he earned his Eagle Scout badge under the guidance of Phil Smart. He continued his studies at the University of Washington excelling as an oarsman at the UofW. Rowing consumed a great portion of his life continuing at Yale for his graduate work, and was proud to be given the opportunity to coach the freshman crew. These freshmen made him proud when they beat their arch rival Harvard 2 out of 3 races.
His business took him around the world. But first he settled down and married Bonnie, and as often happens, first daughter Jeannie was born followed by son David. This responsibility kept him grounded for some time, but it wasn’t long before he was filing a claim to dredge for gold on the Frazier river. His hard work was washed out in a flood, but his curiosity that there “indeed was gold in them there hills” took him on a long hike over the Chilkoot Trail.
While working in New York he had the thrill of a lifetime. His expertise was waterproofing and he had to climb out on the ice shield at the very tip top of the Empire State Building to inspect his company’s application. Shortly thereafter he was invited to go on a hike in Nepal under the expert guidance of Phil Erschler. He and his friends made it to the top of Kala Patar in the Himalayas at 18,300 feet. They looked down on the base camp of Mount Everest marveling at the mountains’ beauty.
In 2000 he finally retired. He and Bonnie sold the llama ranch and the log home they had built in Duvall and moved to a modest 3 acres in Cle Elum. The first structure to go up was the blacksmith shop he had been dreaming about for years. A corner of the shop was temporarily cordoned off for them to live in while the main house was being built.
Whether it was designing the tool to create the perfect acorn; or putting just the right pressure on the hammer to create the vein in an oak leaf, his forge was his friend.
The ring of his treasured Hay Buden anvil is silent now and he’s missed.