Wilburn “Bill” Harshfield


Wilburn “Bill” Harshfield was born December 28, 1916 in Seattle and passed away on December 23, 2008 at age 91. Bill resided in Maple Valley for over 70 years beginning in 1929. He met Mildred Johnston in Maple Valley in the early 1930s and they were married in 1937. They were married for 66 years until her passing in 2003.He is survived by his daughter Florence Emerson (husband, Charles) of Rio Rico, AZ and son Frank Harshfield (wife, Caroline) of Camano Island, WA; grandchildren Aleatha (Moyer), Sharon (Mandlin), Judi (Griffin), and Luann (Baker); great-grandchildren Bill, Lora, Michael, Rachel, Sarah, Tiffany, Garrett, Abigail, Rachel, Zachary, and Grace; and a great-great grandson Dietrick. He was preceded in death by his wife Mildred, grandsons Wesley and Bill Emerson, his parents Frank and Eunice Harshfield, his brother Allen, and many dear friends.Bill graduated from Franklin High School in Seattle and joined the Pacific Coast Railroad in 1933. He retired from the railroad (later called Great Northern and Burlington Northern) as a maintenance foreman after 43 years. Bill and Mildred lived in the railroad section house alongside the tracks on the Maple Valley Highway until his retirement in 1976 at which time the home was sold for $1.00 and burned as a fire department training exercise. The Harshfields then moved to a brand new home at the end of Dorre Don Road along the Cedar River. He loved his little home on the river, and would walk along Dorre Don road each day. In 2000, the Harshfields moved to a retirement community in Stanwood, WA. In the 1950s, Bill was instrumental in establishing the Maple Valley Volunteer Fire Department, which later became King County Fire District #43. He served as the Volunteer Fire Chief of this department for 19 years – retiring in 1970. Just about everyone in Maple Valley knew Bill, and many referred to him simply as ‘Chief.’ A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at noon on Saturday, January 10th, at the Maple Valley Historical Fire Engine Museum located at 22012 SE 248th St in Maple Valley. Bill’s family suggests that remembrances in his name go to the Maple Valley Historical Society at PO Box 123, Maple Valley, WA 98038. His family enjoyed his company immensely and will especially miss his gentle humor and the twinkle in his smiling eyes.