Kenneth Lynn Nelson, the son of Joseph Kenneth Nelson and June Louise Nelson, was born in Port Townsend on July 1, 1942. Ken passed away on Feb. 26, 2014 in Colville.
He grew up on the Olympic Peninsula. He always loved animals, and as a toddler, he was brave enough to be lowered into a well to save a drowning puppy. “Butch” loved the outdoors, hiking and fishing as a youth, and at the age of 17 he hiked to the top of Mount Olympus in tennis shoes with his lifelong friend, Terry Gossage of Port Angeles, and two others.
After graduating from Port Angeles High School in 1960, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving four years, including time on the Falgout as a weather observer. He served in the South Pacific and witnessed two atomic bomb tests. He fell in love with blimps during his training at the Lakeland base in New Jersey. After he was discharged, Ken returned to work at the Rainier Lumber Mill in Port Angeles, and also set chokers out on the west end of the peninsula. The sea called to him and his first trip as an ordinary seaman was on a grain ship from Seattle bound for Bombay, India, where it broke down for three weeks. His time there changed his view of life.
During the Vietnam War, he worked on ships that delivered ammunition to the troops. He also made trips to Africa in that period, and later loved to talk about his trip up the Congo River and the people of West and South Africa. Ken spent nearly ten years on Crowley Maritime (Red Stack) tugboats, shipping out to Alaska as a member of the Inlandboatman’s Union of the Pacific, and made trips to Hawaii and Puerto Rico on oceangoing tugs. In 1970, Ken met his wife, Ann Burbank. That year, he pooled his resources with his friend, Jack Cabe ,and bought 120 acres in North Basin near Colville. A diverse group of friends lived together in the woods there on what became known as “The Hoop.” Friends gathered there and the special friendships that grew from that land still endure. Many children have wonderful memories of exploring and playing freely on the hillside and in the woods. Ken loved bringing home t-shirts and dolls, kites and strange trinkets from his travels.
After the birth of his daughters, Amy Louise in 1972 and later, Elizabeth Anne, Ken enrolled in Kildall Navigation School in Seattle to earn his Coast Guard Master’s license. He worked his way up through the foc’sle, starting as an ordinary seaman. In the 1970s, the maritime industry was transformed by containerization. Time in port with cargo was reduced from a week or more to days or even hours. Ships also grew during that period, and by the end of his career, Ken was navigating massive container ships that were over 400 meters long and carried thousands of containers filled with every conceivable commodity or product.
He usually worked as a Second Mate, and was a proud member of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. During his working years, he also accomplished his dream of flying a glider, making two solo flights over the north end of Oahu, Hawaii. Ken retired in 2001 to his beloved home in North Basin, spending time planning gardens, planting trees, and caring for his dogs. He loved wild birds, and made sure that there was always food for hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and ravens alike. He was a very private person, but he was known for his wonderful stories and was loved by many people.
In addition to his wife, Ann, and daughters, Amy Louise Dyble (Albany, CA) and Beth Cady (Spokane), he is survived by his mother, June (Bellingham); brother, Frank Nelson; brother, Jerry Nelson, and his wife, Pat, and dearly beloved granddaughter, Laura June Dyble.
He will be missed by his son-in-law, Monte Cady; his sister-in-law, Beverly Burbank; sister and brother-in-law, Christine and Steve Edwards; brother-in-law, Russell Burbank; mother-in-law, Louise Burbank; nieces and nephews, Faron and Azucena Spidell, Daisy Spidell, Rose Spidell and Casey Grannis, Michael Spidell and Daphanie Nelson, Katie Burbank and many wonderful great nieces and nephews.
He mourned the loss of Milton Spidell, Marguerite Burbank, and Susan and Shawn Owens, who preceded him in death.
Ken was fortunate to live the life he wanted, and he was loved and appreciated by many friends and relatives. He crossed the final bar in his own home, peacefully in his sleep.
There will a celebration of Ken’s life on summer Solstice, June 21, 2014 at The Hoop.
Memorial donations may be given to the Colville Food Bank.
Please visit the online memorial and sign the guestbook at www.danekasfuneralchapel.com .
Danekas Funeral Chapel and Crematory has been entrusted with the arrangements.
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