by Crystal Colley Dull
Berl Lynn Colley, 77, of Lacey, Wash. passed away at St. Peter’s Hospital on the morning of June 28, 2020. He was born in Walla Walla, Wash. Sept. 1, 1942 to Edward Lynn Colley and Virgene Hess Colley (Talbott).
He is survived by his wife, Denise Marie Colley, and his three daughters, Starla Jean Colley of Tumwater, Wash. and his twin daughters, Crystal Lee Colley Dull and Tena Lynn Colley, both of Soap Lake, Wash., as well as his sister Vicky Colley Yates, his seven grandkids and six great- grandkids.
He was preceded in death by both his parents, Ed and Virgene, his brother Wesley Eugene Colley, and his stepbrother William Alvie Dietz.
He grew up in Lowden, Wash. and graduated from the Washington State School for the Blind. He attended college at Washington State University from 1960-1965. After obtaining his degree in sociology and data processing, he became a software developer. He worked for the state for a few years and then moved on to a private company, working for WLN, the Washington Library Network, until he retired in 2003.
During the late 1970s, he was director of the Client Assistance Project, serving the Washington and Oregon Commissions for the Blind. Over the years, he was involved with the Intercity Transit Community Advisory Committee. He was president of the Washington Council of the Blind, as well as president and treasurer of the Capital City Council of the Blind, where he was honored with a lifetime membership. He was involved with the Thurston County Toastmasters Chapter, where he went every Tuesday for decades. In January of 2016, Gov. Jay Inslee officially appointed him as a member of the Washington State School for the Blind Board of Trustees. The last several years, he was involved with the Thurston County Auditor’s Office on the Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee, working to make independent voting accessible to all. He also worked diligently with city and county officials to make all of Olympia/Lacey’s talking crosswalks go statewide.
Nationally, he was a member of the American Council of the Blind after attending his first national conference in 1988, in Little Rock, Ark. He became an official member in 1990. In 2012 the American Council of the Blind awarded him a lifetime membership. Through the years, he was on the ACB board of directors for eight years, he chaired the DAISY conversion committee, the Idaho Task Force, and the Leadership Institute Committee. He was on the ACB budget committee for three years. He co-chaired the resource development committee for several years, as well as co-chaired the health issues task force. He was involved in the technology resource management committee and the walkathon committee, and was chair of the history committee. He was most proud of his five years as the American Council of the Blind national convention tour coordinator. He also served for many years on the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee.
Berl Colley was an amazing man. He was kind, generous, loving, noble, quick-witted, and humble. He had a gentle soul full of light. He was a wonderful father, teaching me to ride a bike, swim, shoot hoops, play softball, racquetball, bowl, and so much more. He loved to swim and go on walks. He loved to listen to music and sports games. I don’t think he ever went a day of his life without listening to some kind of game. He loved adventure and exploring, especially historically. He loved to travel, and had been on 16 cruises, taking him all over the world. He told me recently that he especially loved being on the water during a storm or rough waters.
My dad was my moral compass. He was never inclined to let his blindness hinder him from every enjoyment life had to offer. He will be extremely missed by friends and family.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a small viewing and service was held. He will be cremated and sent to rest at his daughters’ property in Soap Lake, Wash., where a Berl Colley tree is to be planted in his honor and memorialized, as a present of love from a good friend of his.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Washington Council of the Blind at P.O Box 675, Yakima, WA 98907 or to the Washington State School for the Blind at 2214 E. 13th St., Vancouver, WA 98661.