Palmer J. Trettevik (age 86) died peacefully on Friday, November 16, 2012. He was at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle that morning with his family by his side when his six-year struggle with bladder cancer came to an end.
Palmer was born in Margie (Koochiching County), Minnesota, to Alfred Ananias Trettevik and Amelia (Skorpen) Trettevik, on December 3, 1925.
Alfred was a pulpwood logger and found work in Neah Bay shortly after Palmer was born. In 1926, Alfred moved his wife and seven children to the Skorpen farm in Hatton, North Dakota. Amelia and the children stayed there with her parents, Lars and Anna Skorpen, while Alfred was in Neah Bay building a house for them.
When the house was ready, Amelia, Edith, Lewis, Constance, Ruth, Thelma, Robert and Palmer traveled by train to Seattle. In Seattle, they boarded the coastal freighter the Comanche for the final leg of their journey to Neah Bay. They arrived in Neah Bay on November 29, 1927.
On that November day in 1927, the Norwegian-American Trettevik family was one of five white families living on the Makah Reservation. Later, Palmer would grow to feel like a Norwegian-Makah-American. This pride in growing up as a Makah revealed itself many years later when his granddaughter reported to her kindergarten class that she was part Makah.
When he was 5 years old, Palmer entered the first grade at the all-white C.L. Woods School. By the next year, the schools were consolidated, and Palmer entered the second grade at the Neah Bay school. There, he met his "Best Buddy" and lifelong friend Hubert Markishtum.
The two of them spent many hours in the canoe — practicing survival techniques, going out to Waadah Island for fire food for Hubert's mother or just having fun riding the waves at the mouth of the Hobuck River. Hubert's mother taught Palmer how to eat the local foods such as sea urchins, barnacles and hard-smoked salmon dipped in seal oil.
Great honor was bestowed upon him when he was asked to represent a Makah family by dancing their personal family dance (the wolf dance) at a community function. Growing up as a Makah included gaffing fish in the creek, playing group kid-games on the beach late at night and being a member of the Makah "bone game" team, in which he was often selected to hold the bones or be the pointer.
Palmer graduated from Neah Bay High School in the spring of 1943. His plans to attend the University of Washington were changed when he received word that he was about to be drafted. Instead of waiting to be drafted, he went to enlist in the United States Air Force. But his dream of being a pilot came to an abrupt end before it began when it was discovered that he was colorblind.
On January 20, 1944, he joined the Army and served in the Philippines during World War II. Palmer was attached to the 276th Signal Heavy Construction Company, serving as chief line foreman in New Guinea, the Southern Philippines and Luzon. During his service time, he earned the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal with two bronze Service Stars as well as a Good Conduct Medal and a Victory Medal.
In spite of the war, Palmer had fond memories of his time in the Philippines because of the friendships that he formed with the Duque family members. The Duque family lived in Manila. They opened their door to Palmer and his Army buddy, Silva, and were offended if the two of them did not show up each night for the evening meal. At his death, Palmer was a proud member of the American Legion Post 0062 in Sequim.
Back to the States in February of 1946, Palmer went to work for Crown Zellerbach in Neah Bay. He worked as an oiler for Archie Larson, who was building logging roads with a Northwest shovel.
Normally, Archie would not let anyone touch his machine, even to do the maintenance work. But Archie liked Palmer's work ethics and attention to detail, so he trained him to operate and do the required maintenance on the machine. This allowed Palmer to fill in for operators during vacations and raised his pay level. He took immense pride in his road-building skill.
With a little money in his pocket and a good summer job to come back to, Palmer registered for classes at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, in the fall of 1949. That is where he met his wife, Maxine Lenore Aarstol. They were married on September 2, 1950, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Lawrence, Washington, and both returned to WSU to continue their schooling.
At the end of his second year, Palmer transferred to the University of Washington, where he majored in metallurgical engineering. During his working years, Palmer spent 20 years with Crown Zellerbach in Neah Bay building logging roads with a Northwest shovel and later loading logs.
The next 20 years he worked in supervisory positions for Intalco Aluminum Corporation in Ferndale, Washington, and their sister plant of Eastalco Aluminum Company in Frederick, Maryland.
He started working for Intalco in January of 1966 while the plant was under construction.
On May 1, 1974 he was transferred to the Eastalco plant and worked there until July 1981, at which time he was transferred back to Intalco.
After retiring from Intalco in February of 1986, he and his wife returned to the family property, located on Chito Beach between Sekiu and Neah Bay, and converted it into a summer operation, Tretteviks RV Park and Campground. In the late '50s, Palmer and his wife had developed trailer sites on the property for monthly rentals, Tretteviks Trailer Park. Palmer enjoyed and became friends with people from all over the world as they returned over and over to spend their vacations at the campground.
Although Palmer was very serious and no-nonsense when it came to work and protecting his family and his workers, he also found time for laughter and happiness. Basketball was a joy for him, whether he was playing on the Neah Bay High School team, on the Neah Bay town team or watching his children or grandchildren playing.
Playing pinochle or cribbage with family and friends was a lifelong source of happiness and laughter. Family was all-important to Palmer, and family reunions were his favorite social gatherings.
Family gatherings were a chance for him to meet new members of the family, prepare and bake "salmon-on-a-stick" Makah-style, share slides of Norway and all the genealogy information that he and his wife had been able to learn through the years. Many of the extended Trettevik family members were reunited because of Palmer's efforts over the last 62 years.
Palmer and his wife, Maxine, went to Florø, Norway, in 1980, Alfred Trettevik's birthplace. They stayed with Palmer's cousin, who could speak no English.
Upon returning home, Palmer and Maxine immediately joined the Wergeland Sons of Norway Lodge in Bellingham, Washington, and signed up for Norwegian lessons. They spent seven years studying the language.
The lessons paid off in 1985 when they returned to Florø. By a miraculous series of events, on that trip, Palmer found his Aunt Margaret, his dad's sister. Margaret spoke no English but was able to understand the limited Bokmål Norwegian that they had learned, and they could also understand her.
After finding Margaret, they met many more relatives that were living in Norway and became aware of others that were living in the United States.
In the past several years, Hobuck Beach (where Palmer and Hubert played as children) became the site of the family Thanksgiving gathering. Palmer taught his grandchildren to make kelp cars like he was taught by the Makahs.
The meals included potato lefse, a Norwegian bread that Palmer loved. He was so proud of telling people how it was made and how it should be eaten. He carved Norwegian lefse sticks that were just right for turning the lefse as it cooked on its very own special griddle.
Many of the lefse sticks that he carved were given as special gifts to family members. Each stick had the recipient's own name burned into the cedar handle. Spending time walking on Hobuck Beach (in the rain or the sunshine) allowed him special moments of sharing with each individual family member.
Palmer, also known as Tuss & Paul, is survived by his wife, Maxine, of Sequim; his sons, Craig Lance (Laura) Trettevik of Seattle, Washington, and Eddy Alfred Trettevik of Bellevue, Washington; and daughter Susan Kay Trettevik of Forks.
He is also survived by seven grandchildren, Amy Spears of Utah, Joseph Trettevik of Seattle, Taylor Trettevik and her husband, Jacob Sabado, of Bellevue, Ryan Trettevik of Mentone, California, Maya and Kayci Trettevik of Forks, and Theresa (Joseph) Drake of Arizona; eight great-grandchildren, Gabriel and Raphael Spears of Utah, Arya, Ryla and Nord Sabado of Bellevue, and Katana, Jordin and Enzo Drake of Arizona; nephews and nieces Larry Wagle, Gary and Brent Humble, Tom Hammock, Arline (Wagle) Shilley, Linda (Treddie) Trettevick and Bonnie (Hammock) St. Julien, Joyce (Jonni) Trettevick; numerous grandnephews and -nieces and great-grandnephews and -nieces; brother and sisters-in-law LeRoy Fuller, Joanne (Fuller) Jordan and Deanne (Fuller) Cain; and nephews- and nieces-in-law Edwin Aarstol, Mark Aarstol, Cynthia (Aarstol) Pottle, Mark Fuller, Diana (Fuller) Riley, Elizabeth (Fuller) Charlberg, Michaela (Fuller) Stuart, Karen (Fuller) Egerdahl, David Jordan, Julianne (Jordan) Purdue, Tim Jordan, Joe Cain, Lena Cain and Allyson Love.
Preceding him in death were his father, Alfred (February 12, 1966), and mother, Amelia (December 3, 1946); brothers Lewis "Louie" Trettevik (September 14, 2000) and Robert "Bob" Trettevik (January 16, 1999); sisters Edith Wagle (August 29, 1971), Constance "Connie" Johnson (December 27, 2004), Ruth Humble (October 11, 1995) and Thelma Hammock (December 31 1998); grandson Robert Travis (August 16, 1989); sister-in-law Cheryl (Fuller) Love (January 10, 1998); and brothers-in-law Jack Fuller (July 20, 2011) and Vernon Aarstol (December 21, 2009).
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions may be made to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109.
A celebration of his life will be held for friends and family on Saturday, February 16, 2013, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Sequim Prairie Grange/MacLeay Hall at 290 MacLeay, Sequim, WA 98382. An early buffet supper will be served as everyone continues to visit and share memories.
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Jan. 27, 2013