Remembering notable Whatcom County people who died in 2013

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 5, 2014 

Before the new year progresses much further, let's pause to remember some of the noteworthy people connected to Whatcom County who died in 2013.

Fred Bassetti died Dec. 5. He was 96.

A Seattle-based architect, Bassetti designed several buildings at Western Washington University from the late 1950s to the early '70s. His creations include Carver Gym, the Humanities Building, an expansion of Wilson Library and the award-winning Ridgeway housing complex for students.

John "Jack" Burley died Jan 17 at the age of 85.

Burley worked for the Bellingham Police Department for 25 years and was police chief from 1973 until 1976, when he retired. But he's perhaps best remembered for his service to veterans. A member of the Merchant Marine during World War II, Burley organized events to mark Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Pearl Harbor Day, Flag Day and Armed Forces Day, and served in honor guards whenever veterans died.

Jack Carver died July 13. He was 95.

An amiable and hard-working photographer for The Bellingham Herald from 1945 to 1981, Carver chronicled decades of growth, change and daily life in Whatcom County. During his years at The Herald he captured more than 57,000 images that are now an important part of Whatcom Museum's photo collection.

His photographs captured moments both tragic and historic, as well as personal and everyday, including homecomings, graduations and the first family to watch television in Bellingham. For many people, he was The Herald incarnate.

Charles "Jerry" Flora died Dec. 22 at the age of 85.

Flora started teaching at Western Washington University in 1957 and was president from 1967 to 1975. During his tenure he co-founded Huxley College of the Environment and helped create what is now the Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes. He also helped found what is now the Institute for Watershed Studies.

A passionate science teacher, Flora also served as a meteorologist at KVOS TV and created his marine life series, "Tidepool Critters."

Glen Hallman died Nov. 16. He was 88.

Hallman played a major role in the development of virtually every important local program for seniors in the late 1950s and early '60s, including Bellingham's three high-rise apartments, senior centers in the county, and the Whatcom County Council on Aging.

He also was involved in the creation of the Northwest Regional Council, which operates as Northwest Washington's Area Agency on Aging; the Opportunity Council, which oversees an array of social services; and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, which became today's Volunteer Center of Whatcom County.

Calvin Hanson of Bellingham died May10 at the age of 87.

Hanson was appointed founding president of Trinity Junior College in Langley, B.C., in 1961, and saw the school grow to several hundred students by the time it adopted the name Trinity Western University in 1971.

Fran James died April 28. She was 88.

A renowned and beloved weaver, James shared her skills with her Lummi Nation community and with many others. She and her son Bill James, traditional hereditary chief of the Lummi people, played an important role in keeping weaving and other traditional practices alive.

Fran James was inducted into the Northwest Women's Hall of Fame in 2002.

Henry Klein of Mount Vernon died March 5 at the age of 92.

An award-winning architect, Klein designed the Performing Arts Center and Mathes and Nash residence halls at Western Washington University, as well as senior centers in Bellingham and Ferndale.

Evelyn Morse died Sept. 20 at the age of 98.

She and her husband, David Morse, the head of Morse Hardware Co. in Bellingham, were prominent civic benefactors. They were strong supporters of Whatcom Museum, and helped raise money to restore the museum's Old City Hall building after a major fire.

She also supported such programs as Mount Baker Theatre, Bellingham Festival of Music, Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, YWCA, Lighthouse Mission and Planned Parenthood. In 2007 the Morse family received the Outstanding Philanthropic Family Award in Washington State.

Art Nordtvedt died Oct. 1. He was 91.

Nordtvedt founded United Boat Builders in 1957, producing pleasure craft under the Uniflite brand on the south Bellingham waterfront. In 1965, the company's name was changed to Uniflite Inc. to match the brand.

At its peak, the company employed more than 500 workers, adding military boats to its product line as the Vietnam War ramped up. Nordtvedt left Uniflite in 1970.

Morris Piha died May 14 at the age of 79.

A Bellevue developer, Piha was the dominant property owner in downtown Bellingham from the early 1970s into the 1980s. He was a strong advocate for downtown at a time when talk of a regional mall in Skagit or Whatcom County filled the air.

Piha organized a nonprofit corporation to help redevelop downtown, with a focus on keeping JC Penney from relocating by providing space for the retail anchor to expand downtown. His hopes suffered a fatal blow when the City Council voted to allow construction of Bellis Fair mall.

Erik Ramstead died Jan. 15. He was 50.

Ramstead served in the Everson Police Department for 28 years, all but three of them as chief. During his tenure Everson police acquired a drug-detecting dog, new headquarters and the latest in police technology.

In addition to his law enforcement duties, Ramstead was a prominent figure in the community. He was active in Everson Lions Club, helped start a program that raises scholarship money for Nooksack Valley High School seniors, and gained a reputation as a smart, funny, go-to guy who could handle situations calmly while reassuring others.

Deke Richards, born Dennis Lussier, died in Bellingham March 24 at the age of 68.

A Motown songwriter and producer, Richards produced many hits for the Jackson 5 and co-wrote the hit song "Love Child" for Diana Ross & The Supremes. Other performers he worked with included Bobby Darin, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, and Bonnie Bramlett.

James Roberts died Sept. 13. He was 86.

A Bellingham native, Roberts worked for Bellingham School District from 1952 to 1984, serving as a teacher, principal, administrator, and as school superintendent from 1977 to 1984. Among many civic activities, he served as executive director of St. Luke's Foundation from 1984 to 1996.

Reach Dean Kahn at 360-715-229 or dean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com .

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