His thumb propped under his chin; he ran one finger slowly along the curve of his handlebar mustache. The familiar gesture was reassuring and inadvertently lent an air of charm to his otherwise pensive expression. He was watching, the gate arm had long ago come down in front of him, and the old road switcher was using her 4,400 hp to easily shunt cars onto the neighboring track. Eventually she eased around a gentle curve onward to the railyard or some other destination, leaving only the rhythmic clacking of the rail wheels and the faint smell of diesel in her wake. Michael Ray Vollmer had spent 40 years with Burlington Northern Railroad; the sounds of locomotives still seemed like that of home and he was often pulled by them into reverie. He had been part of the heart of America, the often-forgotten fragment that had run on diesel, sweat, and hard honest work since 1827. For his part, Michael was born on July 31, 1947, nearly 100 years after Cascade Portage opened the first rail line in Washington state but still in a time when the railroad was never overlooked. He was a Washingtonian through and through; raised in Buckley by his parents Clellan and Clara Vollmer, he attended White River High School and Green River College, married Dorothy Conrad of Enumclaw, raised his children here, and as a locomotive electrician helped to repair and maintain the infrastructure of the Pacific Northwest itself. Kind, generous, and deceivingly gifted with a pool cue, Michael was always ready to give his time, heart, and energy to the things and people that needed him. As of May 8, 2019, his work here has been completed and he has clocked out for the last time. Those who will remember Michael every time they cross a set of tracks, see an epic handlebar mustache, or feel their hearts bloom with the kindness of others are his children Mike Vollmer and Vicki (Mike) Brennan; his siblings Terry Vollmer, Kevin (Gail) Vollmer, and Debbie (Doug) Johnson; his 5 beautiful grandchildren and his 6 amazing great-grandchildren. Remembrances for Michael, to continue his habit of generosity, may be made to the Buckley Log Show or Buckley Firefighters Association. A memorial gathering, to remember and share stories about his beautiful life, will be held at the Buckley Eagles Hall at a later date.
To send flowers to Michael's family, please visit our floral section.