Remembering Whatcom County residents who died in 2012


With the new year ahead of us, let's stop for a moment to remember some of the noteworthy Whatcom County people who died in 2012:


Capt. Bartle of Ferndale was among six Marines killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Jan. 19. Bartle, 27, had graduated as a valedictorian at Ferndale High and had been decorated with two Air Medals and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, among other awards. It was his second deployment to Afghanistan.


Choat, who served as the Port of Bellingham's aviation director during years of dramatic growth at Bellingham International Airport, died Nov. 27. He was 63.

Choat joined the port in 1982. He became aviation director in 2002, when the airport had fewer than 100,000 outbound passengers per year; today, the airport has more than half a million.

His earlier port duties included being harbormaster at Squalicum Harbor and director of marine services. Among other things, he oversaw the expansion of Blaine marina in the 1980s.


Clark, who wrote histories of Point Roberts and the Peace Arch, died May 26 at the age of 82.

A man of wide-ranging interests, Clark was a clergyman and a teacher before he became an editor and columnist for The Record-Journal in Ferndale. He also taught piano and was an advocate for the arts and for world peace.

Clark once proposed that Blaine change its name to Peace, because of the Peace Arch. Fittingly, his memoir was titled "Riding the Carousel with God."


Cummings, principal at Blaine Elementary School for a decade before she became director of curriculum and instruction for Blaine School District, died April 6. She was 46.

An award-winning educator, Cummings was known on the lighter side for encouraging children to dress up as their favorite book characters and for organizing elementary school students in Blaine to ride unicycles.


DeNeui, The Bellingham Herald's in-house movie reviewer for 24 years, died March 28 at the age of 83. A lifelong Bellingham resident, he began working for the Herald in 1950 as a typesetter and proofreader, but is best remembered by readers for his clearheaded description and assessment of movies.


The owner of Ebright Animal Hospital in Bellingham, Ebright also served on the City Council, was president of the Washington State Veterinary Association and was a Whatcom Public Utility District No. 1 commissioner for 43 years.

He died Jan. 24 at the age of 88.


Engels, an assistant area port director for U.S. Customs & Border Protection, died Dec. 22 after a fall while retrieving holiday ornaments from the rafters of her Lynden home. She was 51.

Engels grew up in Whatcom County. For much of her early career she worked as an inspector. She rose through the ranks of U.S. Customs in Blaine before moving to Seattle for several years. She returned to Lynden in 2009.


Bellingham native Follis was shot down during a B-17 mission over Germany in World War II and spent eight months in a POW camp before being liberated by Russian soldiers.

After the war, he joined William T. Follis, Realtors, his father's business. Follis Jr. was a broker and real estate appraiser who served on professional boards and committees at the national level.

He also was active in numerous civic, business and veterans organizations. Follis died Nov. 12. He was 88.


Kaemingk, whose community service included 14 years on the Lynden City Council and four years as Lynden mayor, died April 20. He was 81. During his years in city government, he supported efforts to provide and expand trails, open space and parks, including Bender Field and a trail that runs through the city along Fishtrap Creek and was later named in his honor.

After serving in the Army during the Korean War, Kaemingk began a 34-year telephone company career. He also was a board member of Lynden Christian Schools, a church deacon and elder, a charter member of Lynden Kiwanis Breakfast Club and a member of Puget Sound Antique Tractor and Machinery Association.


Mullen, who became a dogged researcher of local history after his education career at Western Washington University and Meridian School District, died Aug. 1 at the age of 81.

He published several works, including a collection of news articles about World War II aviation history in Bellingham, a history of Arlington's airport, and a roster of early post offices and postmasters in Whatcom County.

Colleagues hope to continue his legacy by publishing Mullen's nearly finished books about life on Bellingham Bay in 1893 and a history of railroads on Bellingham Bay.


Nugent, who died July 26 at the age of 91, joined the faculty of Western's psychology department in 1961, retiring as professor emeritus in 1986. While at Western he co-founded and directed the college's counseling center and created master's degree programs in school counseling and mental health counseling.

He also served on the boards of local mental heath clinics, was president of the Washington State Psychological Association and helped found the Washington Mental Health Counselors Association.


Raymond served in the Bellingham Police Department for 25 years, rising to the position of acting police chief until Terry Mangan was selected to fill the post.

After retiring from the department in 1979, Raymond sought election as county executive, but lost in the primary. He then served as personnel director for Whatcom County from 1980 to 1989.

An ardent chess player, he directed a chess tournament for Lynden schoolchildren for 25 years. Raymond died Feb. 25. He was 83.


Spring, who died July 3 at the age of 93, moved to Bellingham in 2000 to be close to family. Decades earlier, he gained fame as a mountaineering photographer in the Northwest with his twin brother, Ira.

After serving in World War II, the brothers continued their love of photography and the outdoors and became freelance photographers. By the 1960s their pictures graced pioneering Northwest guidebooks published by The Mountaineers.

Bob Spring and his wife, Norma, later pursued a separate, joint career creating travel articles, brochures and books that spanned the globe.


Steffens, the son of famous writers Lincoln Steffens and Ella Winter and an accomplished journalist himself, helped to found the journalism department at Western Washington University in the 1970s.

During his nearly three decades at Western, Steffens organized a program to teach journalism to members of Lummi Nation and other tribes. He died Aug. 23 at the age of 87.

Contact Dean Kahn at or 360-715-2291.

Reach DEAN KAHN at or call 715-2291.

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