Friends, family remember Burbank couple

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldJune 13, 2013 

Sherri Retterer was the most personable officer in the escrow department at Benton-Franklin Title Company -- her desk was closest to the door so she could greet customers.

"She was just a breath of fresh air," company vice president Casey Hart said. "She was always willing to help. There was not a negative bone in her body."

Now the desk sits empty, with flowers and a family Christmas card on top. On her computer desktop is a drawing from her daughter, Brianna Wallis, which reads "I (heart) you."

Retterer, 43, and her husband, William A. Retterer Jr., 44, died Saturday night in a car accident. They were heading back to their campsite from kayaking on the Little Naches River.

The Retterers' 1996 Chevrolet pickup left the road they were traveling on and landed upside down in the river, according to the Washington State Patrol. Sherri Retterer's body was found in the truck, Bill Retterer a mile-and-a-half downstream.

Funeral mass for the Retterers is planned for 11 a.m. today at Parish of the Holy Spirit in Kennewick.

A memorial fund to help the family has been set up at Community First Bank in the Retterers' names. Bill Retterer is survived by a son, Bret Retterer, 21. Sherri Retterer is survived by two daughters, Brianna Wallis, 14, and Shelby Wallis, 18.

Hart remembers joking around with the Retterers on Friday, before they left the office for a vacation they wouldn't return from.

"She was a star that went out way too soon," Hart said.

Bill Retterer's brother, Lee, 47, said the Burbank couple led an active, adventurous lifestyle.

"They were both really into being with nature -- birding, kayaking, mountain biking," Lee Retterer said.

The brothers always enjoyed activities together, including riding their Jeeps off-road. Lee is president of the Tri-Cities Peak Putters, a four-wheel-drive organization, and Bill was looking to join.

The brothers moved around regularly when they were kids because their father was in the Navy.

"Every new place we'd have to go on an adventure," he said.

Bill Retterer's time married to Sherri was the best he had, Lee said.

"He's had some difficulties in his life, but, for the past four or five years, he's been a very happy man," he said.

One of Lee Retterer's recent memories of his brother came when Bill took Lee's daughter fishing for the first time last year.

"I'm going to miss that he's not going to take her fishing again," Lee said.

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