With a new year on the horizon, it’s time to pause and remember notable Whatcom County people who died in 2015.
Carl Akers, donated historic building: In 2005, Akers and his wife, Nickie, donated the oldest brick building in Washington state to the Whatcom County Historical Society, which has restored the structure. A taxidermist, Akers’ business once occupied the building at 1308 E. St., in Old Town.
The Richards Building was named after brothers who backed its construction in 1858 to serve as a store and warehouse during a gold rush. The boom soon collapsed and the building later became a Territorial Courthouse. Akers died June 28. He was 91.
Harry “Hub” DeJong, youth sports advocate: A truck driver for LTI, DeJong organized and actively supported youth sports in Whatcom County for five decades. He helped start the Whatcom County All-Star Baseball Tournament, was the Cal Ripken Baseball state commissioner for 11 years, lobbied the city of Lynden for more sports facilities, including Bender Fields, and helped expand Lynden Youth Sports from just baseball and basketball for boys to offering volleyball, softball, soccer and football for both boys and girls.
An inaugural member of the Lynden High School Athletic Hall of Fame, DeJong died Sept. 26. He was 87.
Emil deWilde, founded nursery: Born in the Netherlands, deWilde served in the Dutch resistance during World War II, engaged in actions against the Nazis and sheltering Jews. In 1951, he started deWilde’s Nursery in Bellingham, and later expanded the business to include landscaping and a wholesale nursery. The business still operates. Emil deWilde died Nov. 20 at the age of 91.
Robyn du Pré, environmental leader: Du Pré was known for her leadership role at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, her work with Futurewise and Whatcom Land Trust, and her involvement with Chuckanut Community Forest Park District, which southwest Bellingham voters approved to help pay for the purchase and protection of Chuckanut Ridge. She died March 10 at the age of 53.
Albert “Al” Froderberg, WWU president: Froderberg, the mathematics professor and administrator who suddenly became president of Western Washington University after G. Robert Ross died in a plane crash, died Oct. 22 at the age of 80. Froderberg served just 10 months as interim president after the 1987 crash, but he’s credited with running the university with a steady hand during the traumatic period, until Ken Mortimer was named the new president. Froderberg later became director of planned giving for Western Foundation. He retired in 2009.
Lois Garlick, environmental activist: Garlick was much-honored for her support for environmental issues in Whatcom County and the state. She worked to protect shorelines and Lake Whatcom, and helped preserve Scudder Pond and Protection Island, a seabird preserve near Port Townsend.
In 2003, she and her husband, George, were among the first people named Environmental Heroes by RE Sources, in part for helping to found the local chapter of the National Audubon Society. Garlick died June 28. She was 95.
Dave Hansen, co-founded Lummi Island Wild: A sport-fishing guide, Alaska bush pilot and commercial fisherman, Hansen helped found Lummi Island Wild, a salmon reefnet business, in 1992. In 2011, Sustainable Connections honored Hansen with its Leader in Promoting Healthy Environment award. Hansen died Nov. 12. He was 62.
Don Hansey, legislator, County Council member: Hansey represented Whatcom County in the Legislature as a Republican for much of the 1970s, and then served on the County Council for more than a decade.
In 1977, he was elected to, and chaired, the county Board of Freeholders that drafted the county’s home rule charter. Voters approved the measure, which created the county’s seven-member council and its elected county executive form of government. Hansen served three terms on the council, from 1979 to 1992. He died April 3 was the age of 85.
Harold Heiner, WCC president: The president of Whatcom Community College for 24 years, Heiner died Oct. 17 at the age of 76. Heiner came to WCC in 1978 and became dean of instruction. When he became president in 1983, the school did not have a main campus; instead it operated with various facilities around the county.
During Heiner’s tenure, the college acquired land in the Cordata area and began building a campus. By the time he retired in 2007, WCC encompassed 70 aces and had 7,000 students. He also helped launch WCC’s international program and the college’s foundation.
James Jarrett, WWU president: The president of Western Washington University from 1959 to 1964, Jarrett died Sept. 11 at the age of 98. During his tenure several new programs and departments were added, including an honors program, physics department and chemistry department. Buildings added during his presidency were Haggard Hall, the Student Co-operative bookstore and Viking Commons.
Clark “Corky” Johnson, county commissioner, County Council member: Johnson was a prominent figure in Whatcom County politics as county government shifted from three full-time commissioners to a seven-member, part-time council with an elected county executive. Johnson died March 10. He was 89.
Johnson served as a commissioner for eight years, then served on the new council for 10 more. He also served on numerous civic, charitable and state boards.
Joanne MacKay, started child care center, owned Tony’s: Credentialed in California to teach and direct nursery schools, MacKay moved to Bellingham and helped start Bellingham Day Care Center, now Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center, and served as the center’s director from 1968 to 1975. She also owned, ran and expanded Tony’s Coffee House in Fairhaven from 1977 to 1987. MacKay died Aug. 21. She was 93.
Patrick Desmond “Des” McArdle, BTC president: McArdle, the first president of Bellingham Technical College, died Dec. 12. He was 76. When he came to the campus as a counselor in 1972, the school was Bellingham Vocational Technical Institute and was part of Bellingham School District. He became president in 1991 and retired a decade later, but was brought back in 2006 to serve one year as interim president.
During his presidency, the school became an upgraded, accredited institution with a new name, Bellingham Technical College. The school’s technology classroom and lab building is named for him.
Joe Moser, WWII pilot, camp survivor: A Ferndale native, Moser was a fighter pilot who was captured and narrowly avoided death in a German concentration camp. He was captured in August 1944 after his plane was shot down over France. The Germans called him and other captured Allied pilots “terror fliers” and sent them to Buchenwald, rather than a humane POW camp, as called for by the rules of war.
A quiet man, Moser’s story was later revealed in a memoir, “A Fighter Pilot in Buchenwald,” and a documentary, “Lost Airmen of Buchenwald.” Moser died Dec. 2 at the age of 94.
Fred K. Polinder Jr., horseman, fair supporter: Polinder, who died Oct. 31 at the age of 87, was a Northwest Washington Fair board member for 32 years. He was nationally known for his work as a farmer and for his hobby of driving and showing his prize-winning Clydesdales. He held state and national leadership positions in the dairy cattle industry, and was a horse judge at major shows in North and South America and in Scotland.
Carol Rondello, recycling advocate: An early organizer for recycling and other environmental programs in Bellingham, Rondello died June 16 at the age of 66. She helped put together volunteer curbside recycling in Birchwood neighborhood in the 1980s, an effort that led the city to adopt curbside collection as a service for all of Bellingham. She also served as executive director of Environmental Resource Services, now RE Sources, for many years.
George Williams, started Old Town Café tradition: Williams was the owner, manager and chief cook at Old Town Café in the early 1970s when he began serving free Thanksgiving meals to the community. The tradition continues to this day. Williams died Jan. 3. He was 68.