Grady Auvil: 1905 - 1998

Lillie Auvil: 1909 - 2005


Grady Auvil was born December 7, 1905 in Yeager, West Virginia, to Llewellyn and Ida (Ashworth) Auvil. The family relocated to Entiat when he was two and remained in the community throughout Mr. Auvil’s school aged years. Mr. Auvil graduated from high school in 1922 and continued his education at Washington State University.

Lillie Brandt was born July 6, 1909 in Mesa, Washington, to Louis and Anna Brandt. Her family moved to Withrow, Washington, not long after her birth where her father had purchased a wheat ranch. Her mother died when she was two and Lillie moved to Illinois to be with her Germanspeaking paternal grandparents. English did not become her primary language until she was school age. She remained in Illinois through her youth where she participated wholly with her extended family and became active in the Lutheran Church.

Following her graduation from high school, Lillie returned to her family in Washington and began college at Eastern State College (Eastern Washington University). She graduated in 1930 with a degree in education. She taught at Dyer Hill (Douglas County) and later in Withrow. She dedicated her salary to helping her younger sister complete her own education at Eastern State College.

In 1928, when Mr. Auvil was 22, he moved to Orondo and founded the Auvil Fruit Company. Four years later he met and married Lillie Brandt and together they made their home near the company offices in Auvil. Mrs. Auvil was instrumental to the Auvil Fruit Company throughout their marriage, even cashing in her teaching vouchers valued at $2000 to help the company get started.

Mr. Auvil was considered a visionary in the tree fruit industry. He introduced many new fruits and innovations beneficial to growers. Mr. Auvil brought to the Northwest the Red Haven Peach (1941), Red Gold Nectarine (1960), Granny Smith apple (1972), and successfully marketed commercial Rainier cherries (1975). In 1948 he introduced the use of grass to cover orchards; in 1952 he identified poplar trees for windbreaks; underground sprinklers for frost control followed in 1967; in 1972 he pioneered use of M26 rootstocks; and in 1981 double-row planting for Granny Smiths. He was also instrumental in establishing the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission in 1968.

Mr. Auvil was awarded Grower of the Year in 1954, 1960, 1981 and 1990; he was named Cherry King in 1986 by the Washington State Fruit Commission; and the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival named him their inaugural Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 1981. In 1998 Governor Locke recognized Mr. Auvil’s outstanding achievements when he presented him with the Washington State Legislature’s Washington State Medal of Merit.

Mr. Auvil served as president of the Washington State Horticultural Association (1953). He was a fifteen-year member of the Orondo Public Schools Board and a twenty-year member of the Douglas County Schools Reorganizational Committee. He was elected to the Douglas County PUD Commission for six years and was a long-time member of the grant committee of the WSU Tree Fruit Research Commission. He was a 50-year member of the Orondo Grange.

Mrs. Auvil’s established her priority to raise the couple’s three children and care for the home, though her input and encouragement was frequently sought on matters pertaining to the business. Additionally, she was a 66-year member of the Orondo Grange and Auxiliary and a long-time member of the Wenatchee Garden Club and Ladies’ Club.

The couple was survived by their three children, Deanna (Bert) Navone, Allen (Patti) Auvil and John (Pam) Auvil, and many grand- and great-grand children.

Proceeds from the Grady and Lillie Auvil Memorial fund support education at Washington State University (WSU), development at the WSU Tree Fruit Research Station, and horticultural scholarship at Wenatchee Valley Community College.