The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

Velma Van Aelst


Velma Van Aelst was born on April 5, 1946 to Don and Lydia Craker in Boise, Idaho. Her father became a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene the following year so she grew up in parsonages around the State of Washington—1947 Carson, 1950 Pullman, 1956 Goldendale, and 1962 Zillah. She graduated from Zillah High School in 1964 and after studying for a term at Northwest Nazarene College (NNC) in Nampa, Idaho she moved to Los Angeles and remained there for 20 years. She worked in the franchise department of IHOP, and then ran a print shop. She married Charles Hile II in September 1968. The couple later divorced.

In 1984 Velma had surgery for a benign brain tumor but the surgery resulted in partial paralysis and she limped for the remainder of her life.

She came home to the Northwest to care for her dying mother in 1985. Then she returned to NNC to study for a time. While reflecting on her childhood, she realized Goldendale represented a peaceful place to live and moved here in 1988. She worked at the Sentinel for a year as the reporter for the girl’s high school teams as well as doing art and layout. She then worked for Senior Services and became the in home care supervisor.

She and Neil Van Aelst were married on December 28, 1991. They spent their summers in Goldendale and ran their RV Park in Bouse, Arizona during the winter months.

Velma became a Reserve Deputy for the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Department in January, 1992. She was very proud of this as well as her work with Neil as part of the Klickitat County Search and Rescue team.

The couple celebrated their 25th anniversary just days before Velma’s death. Her homegoing occurred at their home in Goldendale on January 10, 2017.

Her husband Neil; a son David Young, of Los Angeles; a brother, Randy Craker of Spokane; and numerous nieces and nephews survive her. She was preceded in death by her parents Don and Lydia Craker and her brother Gilbert Craker.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, January 14th at the Goldendale Church of the Nazarene at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers donations, in Velma’s honor, can be made to American Cancer Society.


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