William C. Laverty died quietly at home in Pagosa Springs, Colo., surrounded by family, on Aug. 26. “Papa Bill” had a good run; he was 97.
Bill was born Feb. 24, 1923, to Luther and Roberta Laverty in Waterloo, Iowa. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Princeton, Ky., where he grew up. Graduating from high school in 1941, he studied two years at Georgia Tech before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force during WWII. Serving in the China-India-Burma theater, he worked as a radio operator/mechanic, flying “The Hump” on C-46 and C-47 transport aircraft.
Upon his discharge from the Air Force in 1946, Bill returned home and enrolled at the University of Kentucky, but his time spent flying over the Himalaya mountains had “struck a nerve.” After a year of school, he packed up and moved to Denver, Colo., deciding he was going to learn how to ski. He worked a little, attended a few classes at the University of Colorado, but mostly (we think), he “ski bummed,” taking only enough time off from that to spend the better part of 1950 on a sail boat in Acapulco, Mexico.
Deciding perhaps that his budding ski career might not offer as promising a future as he would like, Bill returned to the University of Kentucky just long enough to earn a degree in civil engineering and develop an obsession for Kentucky basketball, a condition from which he would never recover.
Back in Denver, degree in hand, he went to work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but then accepted a job with the San Juan National Forest and moved to Pagosa Springs in 1955. In Pagosa, he developed an obsession for a second-grade school teacher named Peggy Ann Zesch (another condition from which he would never recover). They married in Mason, Texas, Peggy’s hometown, in 1957.
Rounding out his Forest Service career in 1973, which included assignments in Colorado, California and New Mexico, Bill, Peggy and family moved back to Pagosa Springs for good to operate the KOA (Pagosa Riverside) campground they had built two years earlier. He would move on from that to a long third career in real estate as owner/broker of San Juan Realty.
Bill enjoyed his sports and was a good athlete in his own right. In addition to ski bumming, he played tennis and golf until a ripe old age. He never gave up on his Kentucky Wildcats and was known for throwing bricks at the TV during Broncos games and the evening news.
The stalwart patriarch of the infamous “Laverty Clan,” he and Peggy raised three children and were blessed with 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren (to date). He was preceded in death by his two sisters, Roberta Laverty and Kathryn “Kate” Terry, and daughter-in-law Danna Laverty. He is survived by wife Peggy; sons Kurt Laverty, Steve (Kimberly) Laverty and daughter Kitzel (Derek) Farrah.
Bill and Peggy were among the founding members of the local Lutheran Church. A memorial service will be held for Bill at Our Savior Lutheran Church on Sept. 26 at 10 a.m. in Pagosa Springs.