Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Velma Sayles

May 25, 1922 - Apr. 19, 2019


May 2, 2019

Velma Martin Sayles

Velma Martin Sayles

The Lady with the Million-Dollar Smile...

Velma Martin Sayles was often described by the smile she showed the world, right up to her death on April 19, 2019, just five weeks short of 97. Velma passed away at Regency Assisted Living in Pullman, Wash. She arrived on the Palouse by train from Montana to Union Flat in 1926. When she was five years old, her family moved to Pullman and she has been an active resident ever since, documented by her and her husband Ivan's plaque on the Pullman Walk of Fame. Her most recent home was at Regency Senior Living Center in Pullman where she was cared for in a most loving way.

Velma started her education at the original Franklin School and graduated from Pullman High School in 1940. She attended Washington State College on a Union Pacific 4-H scholarship. She could sew and tailor with the best of them, but really found her artistic expression with the art community's Wednesday Painters. She had work accepted in juried exhibits and sold art through Nicole Taflinger's former business, the NICA Gallery in downtown Pullman.

As a young woman, Velma was instrumental in assisting her parents, Ralph and Mattie Martin, as they opened one of the earliest (if not the original) commercial greenhouses in Pullman. She gained floral design training in Seattle and provided financial support to help birth Martin's Flowers on the corner of Spring and South streets. Their shop provided all of the nursery items for the annual Garden Fair, which benefitted Pullman Hospital. Her baked goods at that event were often proclaimed some of the finest; as residents learned what her family already knew ... she made the best pies and "gushy rolls" around!

Velma met Ivan Sayles when she worked for him at the Pullman Grain Growers, and continued to help him build Sayles Insurance that eventually consolidated into AIA and is now HUB. They married and had four children. Concordia Lutheran Church, Pullman, was her church home. Many of her volunteer contributions involved the kids, as well as supporting Ivan's business activities. She spent 28 years in PTA, was a 4H and Campfire Girls leader, was a member of the Pullman Hospital Auxiliary and was a charter member and past president of PEO chapter FZ. She enjoyed summers at Priest Lake, decorating for holidays including the Christmas display in the office window, gardening and the Statler Brothers.

She was married to Ivan for 61 years and lived to enjoy three generations of offspring! Her children are Gary Sayles, Sherry Varkonyi (Vic), Carol Sayles Rydbom (Mike), and Donna Sayles-Lundy (Mike). Her grandchildren are Jamie Smart (Josh), Jenni Warren (Justin), Drew Varkonyi, Krystan and Aydan Lundy. Great-grandkids, who will fondly remember her stash of peanut butter M&Ms, are Brendan, Evan, Kylee and Adalyn. Velma's husband, Ivan; son, Gary; brother, Glenn Martin, and sisters, Lois Alberts and Shirley Cochran preceded her in death.

Mom, Grandma, Gigi ... We have no doubt you are with the Lord and we will see you again. That you died on Good Friday is not lost to us. You and your smile will be greatly missed! We now have one more reason to look forward to seeing you in our forever home! Love, your Family

At Velma's request, there will be a private family celebration of her life. Kimball Funeral Home of Pullman, WA, has been entrusted with arrangements. Online condolences may be left at http://www.kimballfuneralhome.com.


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