Say the name “Verlane” on South Whidbey Island and it will be recognized as that of a man who lived life large, like he was.
Verlane Albert Milo Gabelein was born Sept. 3, 1942, at home on Kramer Road in Langley to Liljen and Lawrence Gabelein. He lived the majority of his life within a five-mile radius of that homestead, and will come full circle when he is laid to rest in Bayview Cemetery. After three days of many heartfelt goodbyes, Verlane died at Providence Hospital on Nov. 16, 2017.
After graduating from Langley High School in 1961, Verlane took to the road. On his way he combined from Nebraska to North Dakota. He spent time visiting family and friends in Minot, N.D., where he charmed Marilyn Elise Fjeld into marrying him on Nov. 12, 1965, at the Fron Lutheran Church, southwest of Minot. The honeymoon was spent driving out west with his new bride and mother. Verlane and Marilyn lived in Kirkland for one year, where he worked at PAC-CAR as a welder. Then a year later he decided city life wasn’t for him and felt like he was just a number so they moved back to the island in 1966 to pursue his own path. They purchased their first home in Ken’s Korner, where he started his own septic tank business saving every last penny to retire in 1981 to raise his daughters, and eventually to build their dream home in Bayview overlooking Double Bluff in 1987.
During retirement Verlane and Marilyn worked hard from the beginning, sharing the hands-on work of land clearing and development, restaurateuring, farming, raising cattle, investing and running a carwash. The friendships Verlane formed in his youth remained steadfast throughout the years, and he was always adding new ones to the list. Whether he was in an airport lounge in Maine, sitting at a slot machine in Vegas or Reno, on road trips throughout the US, visiting his snowbird friends, meeting people in Hawaii or touring Germany, Verlane always knew someone in common with someone he’d just met, and he’d talk until he established that connection.
Verlane loved everyone no matter what their background was. He would give his shirt off his back and donate to any organization in need. And he loved the sound of his own voice and held open house much of his life, with boisterous discussions around the kitchen island, which was later labeled “kitchen-sitting.” Bombastic, funny, life of the party, a sucker for animals or people in pain, with a most retentive memory and an ego to match his frame, tThe Doctor” was a generous man whose currency was friendship. He was a very rich man in that regard.
Verlane’s life got a little larger when his grandson Konnor was born in 2015, and the two peas in polka-dot caps and overalls were best pals. Grandpa would have loved having “Mini Me” shadow his footsteps for many more years, but God had a different plan.
Verlane and Marilyn celebrated 52 years of marriage with their daughters Elise and Emily a few days before his death, toasting each other with candied orange slices, a special treat from their shared past.
Besides his grandson Konnor Verlane McDougall, Verlane is survived by his lovely wife Marilyn and their daughters, Elise Gabelein and fiancé Adam Eckholt, and Emily and her husband Jake McDougall; sister Ruth (Ohm) Primeau and her husband Pete, brother Duane Gabelein, brother Vernon Gabelein and his wife Linda, brother Myron Gabelein and his wife Resa, sister Evelyn Bower and her husband Dennis, and brother Larry Gabelein; many extended family members, foster children and a legion of friends who were like family. Verlane was preceded in death by his father, Lawrence Gabelein, in 1965, and his mother, Liljen Gabelein in 2001.
A burial service was held by the family graveside on Nov. 22 at Bayview Cemetery.
Verlane’s last big party will be held at 2 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2017 at the Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to a scholarship fund set up at any Coastal Community Bank.