Stanley Wilt was born October 24, 1917, on Kiger Island, where his parents Albert and Alma Wanamker Wilt raised four sons—Stanley, Bill, Joe, and Neal. Stanley attended Kiger Island School, then graduated from Corvallis High School and attended Oregon State College. A self-made man with a zest for new challenges and an unerring eye for opportunity, the young Stanley Wilt created his first job when he saw the need for removing the old Mary’s Peak railroad line. He went after the contract to do the work and was successful. He soon became involved in trucking goods and supplies from Corvallis to Portland and later from Corvallis into Idaho. He was one of the original shareholders for the Los Angeles and Seattle Motor Express, which carried war supplies from 1941 through 1945.
On November 11, 1941, Stanley married Virginia Gehrs in Boise, Idaho. Virginia grew up in Portland and graduated from OSC, studying secretarial science. She worked for the Corvallis Montgomery Ward department store. Virginia enjoyed traveling with Stanley when trucking took him out of state.
After the war, Stanley saw another opportunity and took on the challenge of starting a seed mill, located in south Corvallis, called Western Milling. The building burned twice, and was not rebuilt after the second fire in 1959. In the 1940s, Stanley also started a lumber mill, called Dog Face Lumber, on Crystal Lake Drive in south Corvallis. This was the first of several lumber mill operations and logging companies he began over the years. Others included Philomath Veneer, Tri W Lumber Sales, Northwest Lumber Products, and Coburg Veneer, later Coburg Mills, along with other timber interests in Oregon and in British Columbia.
Another business venture took Stanley into major construction projects in the 1950s and 1960s. With Continental Construction Company, Stanley constructed many federal and state highways, including the Winnemucca Highway, the Terwilliger Curves of Interstate 5 in Portland, and the Klamath Falls Highway. His buildings include the Corvallis Elks Club, St. Mary’s Church, the Lincoln Center in Newport, and several buildings on the Oregon State University campus.
Virginia and Stanley raised three sons—Gary, William, and Dana—and a daughter, Lesley. The Wilt children inherited their father’s business acumen and have begun a variety of business ventures, including one joint project, Crystal Lake Storage, on the site of the old Dog Face Lumber Company. Stanley was also very involved in his community, but rarely in the limelight. “He was always helping someone,” Dana recalled. “He worked on the Round Table, and he helped a lot of people with their education, paid their tuition. He believed in the community he lived in and worked in.” “His community efforts weren’t part of joining a club,” Lesley added. “It was more a part of his lifestyle. If he saw a need, he took care of it. ”Stanley’s commitment to the community was expressed most visibly, perhaps, through his work with a group of likeminded individuals to start a YMCA in Corvallis. He was instrumental in getting the building and keeping the organization alive. Virginia worked with him in this endeavor and taught swimming to mentally challenged children at the YMCA pool.
Another important community resource that Stanley Wilt contributed to Corvallis is the Episcopal Church building, which he moved to a new location and donated. It became the current Corvallis Arts Center. He also worked with T.J. Starker to chair the fundraising effort to save the foundation of Good Samaritan Hospital.
Stanley served as president of the Lincoln School Board and was a member of the Corvallis Rotary Club, Corvallis Elks, Corvallis Moose, Orange Round Table, Corvallis Country Club, and the Aero Club of Portland. For fun, aside from starting new business ventures, Stanley enjoyed fishing and hunting. He became a collector of antique cars, but mostly he loved to fly. He was part owner of Corvallis Aero Services. A pilot since 1935, Stanley used his plane to commute to work at the mill in Coburg, and it was as he returned one Friday night from Coburg that he was killed when his plane crashed just five miles southwest of the Corvallis Airport.
Virginia passed away at home in Corvallis with her children by her side. Their son Bill established this memorial fund with BCF to honor his parents. He felt it was a fitting tribute to his father, who cared so much about the community in which he lived and who worked quietly but consistently to help provide opportunities for Benton County’s young people, and to his mother, who supported Stanley in these endeavors.