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July 24, 1928 to November 30, 2013
Snart är du död och vet ej att du glider
på livets båt bort mot de andra landen
där morgonen väntar dig på dolda stränder . . .
Soon you'll be dead and not know you are gliding
upon life's boat away towards the other lands
where morning waits for you on hidden shores . . .
Livsbåten, Pär Lagerkvist
Bill Pihl passed away in the comfort of his home during the early morning hours of November 30th, 2013.
Erik "Bill" Pihl was born on July 24, 1928 to Hildur and Hilding Pihl who immigrated to Seattle the previous year from Luleå, Sweden with Bill's older brother, Per Ivar. He was named for his paternal grandfather, Erik Otto Pihl, and because Hildur and Hilding wanted him to also have a very American name, he was given "Billy" as a middle name. Bill was raised in a household steeped in Swedish culture, values, and faith that became guideposts for his long life of service to others. He was a member of the two oldest Swedish Lutheran parishes in the State of Washington: Gethsemane in Seattle and then Salem in Mount Vernon.
Bill grew up in the Sandpoint neighborhood of Seattle and then Bothell when the family purchased a farm on Pontius Road. Other siblings joined the Pihl household: Rose Ann, Ernest, Martin, Elsie and Karen. Theirs was a close and loving family and remains so to this day.
Through his high school years, Bill spent long hours before and after school taking care of the family farm. After graduation from high-school, he worked as a commercial fisherman to fund his college tuition.
A life-long Husky, Bill graduated from the University of Washington where he received undergrad, graduate and post-graduate degrees in dentistry and orthodontics. He was an ardent Husky fan and supporter of UW athletics.
He served as a Captain in the United States Air Force providing mobile dental services for remote bases in the Pacific Northwest.
He married Louise Edholm on August 12, 1956; she was the great joy of his life. Bill and Louise moved to Mount Vernon, Washington in 1959 where Bill established his orthodontic practice, which would span more than forty years.
Bill and Louise have four children: Erik, Andrea, Arne, and Paul all born and raised in Mount Vernon. He was proud of each of them and he always admired their hard work and supported their passions.
Bill loved the Skagit Valley and the great outdoors: hiking, climbing, skiing, hunting and fishing were all avid pursuits. He loved nature and wild places, the sound of glaciers calving above an alpine tarn and sea spray coming over the bow. He was especially fond of fishing in Alaska with Louise and his brothers and sisters.
Bill's life was a life lived robustly; he was a big thinker and an eternal optimist. No problem was too big or insurmountable and there was nothing he could not do, particularly if friends or family needed help.
Bill brought this same energy and vision to a life of dedicated service to many local and national volunteer activities. Always ready and willing to lend a hand, Bill helped many organizations with both his philanthropy and his time. He was actively involved with Holden Village since its inception in 1962 and served on its Board in the 1960's and 1970's. In the 1970's Bill served on a national task force for the Lutheran Church in America working to address World Hunger. He was an active member of Mount Vernon Rotary, an organization he admired greatly for its global impact and commitment to service above self. He was never afraid to get his hands dirty; he always liked to have skin in the game. During the last decades of his life, he spent many hours with a shovel and his beloved backhoe moving trees and plantings for the Western Washington Fruit Research Foundation near Mount Vernon. Strong believers in access to higher education, Bill and Louise created a scholarship endowment in Hildur and Hilding Pihl's name at Pacific Lutheran University.
Bill traveled to Sweden later in his life and loved to visit his Swedish cousins, particularly Tor Johansson and his wife Maud in Linköping and Brigitta Wasserman and her husband Thomas in Luleå. He loved Stockholm, the Swedish countryside, and Åland, the archipelago that is Louise's ancestral home. He often talked about making yet another trip.
Bill's family extends their profound thanks to the many healthcare professionals who provided wonderful care these past thirteen years, particularly Dr. Charles Kotal, whose personal interest and attention will long be remembered. Many thanks to the staff of San Juan Rehab and Care Center in Anacortes.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents Hildur and Hilding, his sister Rose Ann, and his brother Ivar.
He is survived by his wife Louise; children Erik, Andrea, Arne, and Paul; brothers Ernest (Zora) and Martin (Darlene); sisters Elsie and Karen; sisters-in-law Joan Pihl and Hazel Edholm; nieces and nephews; grand nieces and nephews; and his faithful hunting dogs Mocha and Flicka.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Holden Village: holdenvillage.org, Salem Lutheran Church: slcmv.com or the
A memorial service will be held January 18, 2014 11:00am at Salem Lutheran Church in Mount Vernon.
Funeral Arrangements are under the care of Kern Funeral Home.
You can share your memories of Erik and sign his online guest registry at www.kernfuneralhome.com
Kern Funeral Home
1122 South 3rd Street Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Published in Skagit Valley Herald Publishing Company on Dec. 8, 2013