William Daniel Colley was born in Washington County, Virginia, on Nov. 10, 1925, to Joe and Elsie Colley. He was known as “Bill.” He had two brothers and two sisters: Robert, Thomas, Joanne and Susan.
As a boy he camped, hunted and fished in the hills and rivers of the Rogue Valley and attended school in Central Point. He described walking three miles to school, hiding a shotgun and shells in a ditch so he could hunt pheasant on his way home. He became an expert marksman often winning contests, including a turkey shoot. Opponents declared they didn’t have a chance if “Bill showed up.”
At 17, Bill joined the Navy for the duration of the war, serving in the Asiatic Pacific Campaign aboard the USS Livingston. He earned the expert badge in marksmanship. Prior to entering the service he herded cattle on a ranch near Klamath Lake. He met Mary Louise Gribble in Central Point and they were married in September 1946. They had three boys: Bill, Steve and Dan.
Bill supported his family as a millworker, a real estate broker and fishing guide. Being in real estate gave him headaches, and working in the mill wore him out, so he spent most of his time on the wild and scenic Rogue River doing what he loved; guiding, fishing, hiking and teaching others, including his sons how to fish. With his sons, he hiked the Sky Lakes the first year it was designated as wilderness.
He guided an Apollo astronaut who walked on the moon in 1972, then sat in dad’s boat for four days while marveling at the beauty of the river and its canyons, wildlife, and night sky. Bill and Mary retired to Brookings where they walked the beach, fished and boated. After Mary died in 1999, Bill married Joy Hicks, the second love of his life, in 2005. She died only two years later.
He is survived by his sisters, his sons, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. There will be no funeral. The family plans a celebration of his life later in the year.