William Wagner Blake
William Wagner Blake, 88, died July 8, 2009. Bill was born February 4, 1921, to William Calvert and Emma Wagner Blake at the family home, where he still resided at death.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Georgia; his brothers, Harlow, Douglas and Arthur Blake; and sister, Grace Ferguson.
He is survived by his daughters, Deborah and Bonnie; son, Bill (Sarah); grandsons, David and Billy; cousin, Frank Green, in Snohomish; and nephews, Herb Blake, of Puyallup, WA, and Chet Blake, of Walla Walla, WA.
Raised during the Great Depression, Bill started out working to help the family early on. During these years he also honed the skills of fishing, hunting game and fowl and wine making. He learned the art of meat cutting while working at the Snohomish Fruit Growers Association, and acted as the band teacher while attending Snohomish High School, graduating in 1939.
As a boy, he enjoyed many happy times in old Snohomish, fishing in the river and ranging the town and undeveloped hillsides with his good friends, Kerm Stroh, Ned Redmond, and Harry Carleton.
Before enlisting during WWII, Bill worked on war ships in the Seattle shipyards, where he suffered a 30-foot fall into the hold of a ship before volunteering for Army service. When he landed on the beach in the Philippines in 1943, he was selected to be a Medical Aid Man, serving with the 32nd Infantry Division, 128th Infantry Regiment, Medical Detachment, in the Pacific Theatre. Bill was in combat on Papua and Dutch New Guinea, Leyte, and earned the Bronze Star when severely wounded on May 18, 1945, while evacuating another soldier under fire in the Villa Verde Mountains of Luzon. He spent over nine months in military hospitals healing until he was strong enough for surgery. It was this experience that launched Bill into his lifelong role as a humanitarian serving those in need.
Returning to Seattle to continue healing after the war, Bill lived in the Green Lake, Seattle area, acting in community theatre, where he met Georgia, who was volunteering with costume and set design. Georgia was the love of his life until his last breath; he spoke of missing her so often the past year, and we know they are catching up now on what they missed over the past five years she's been gone (well, maybe right after he and Kerm Stroh have a cold one together).
Dad was a gifted orator and thespian -- continuing with community theatre productions in Snohomish in the early 1950's after he and Georgia married. They raised their family in the old Snohomish home, tending their yard and garden, looking out over the farmland at Mt. Rainier, the coming and going of planes from Harvey field, and seasonal flooding of the valley below.
As a newlywed, Bill initially worked for Puget Sound Power and Light out of Snohomish, driving an open jeep on a meter-reading route. That job transitioned to a 17-year stint in the meter room of the Snohomish County PUD, after which he took the position of Manager in the Arlington office, a job he loved. In 1973, he transferred south again as East County Manager until he retired in 1977. He was proud of the fact that today there are 17 job positions doing what he did as an individual. Leadership by example was key throughout Bill's life; in every trade, volunteer group and even at home, he was always a thinker and doer, as comfortable carrying the boxes or waiting on others as at the head of the table and making the final decision.
Over the years, Bill was a member of the Arlington Kiwanis and Chamber of Commerce, Snohomish Chamber and Tillicum Kiwanis, Snohomish County Good Roads Committee, served as a Cascade Valley Hospital Commissioner and on the Snohomish Civil Service Commission (1981-1986), serving as Chairman for a time. Over 55 years ago, Bill and Georgia were founding members of The Snohomish Community Food Bank, where he volunteered regularly and served on the Board until his death. In addition to the community service he loved so much, Dad's passion was traditional church music, both hymns and classical pieces. He volunteered as a choir director and member at Christ the King Lutheran, Our Savior's Lutheran, and other churches; directed the Norwegian Male Chorus, and assisted with Snohomish Light Opera productions. Dad was also a wonderful resource for accurate local name, place and event history, sharing many of his father's Three Lakes and Nome, AK railroad experiences and photos. With Georgia, he petitioned to save Averill Field from development, then with the Tillicum Kiwanis helped build the popular "Tot Lot" area (dedicated 2004). He greatly enjoyed the times he was Grand Marshal in the Arlington 4th of July and Snohomish Kla Ha Ya (2007) Parades.
Bill was always encouraged to become an elected official but felt he was better able to advocate for those in need by working in the roles he chose. He was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather and surrogate "Uncle Bill" for many over the years. A gardener, furniture and wooden boat builder, cook, fly fishing and tying enthusiast, and philanthropist. Most of all, Bill was a friend to all people with a good heart and the willingness to share in a smile.
The family is having a private graveside service, followed by a memorial service at 1 p.m., Thursday, July 16, 2009, at the Snohomish Presbyterian Church. Arrangements through Bauer Funeral Chapel, Snohomish.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Snohomish Community Food Bank.