Archive for the ‘In memory’ Category

Barry Brown, the only man to lead three separate Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball teams in scoring. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Our lives are separate, yet interwoven.

High school sports bring together a wide range of individuals, from athletes and coaches, to fans and parents, to refs, writers, and support staff.

Together, we form a group in which we touch the lives of those who join us.

We are one, but together, we are a nation, a Wolf Nation.

As time fades, some of us depart, while new ones join.

But while death erases the body, it shouldn’t dull the bonds that person shared.

As we head towards 2022, I want to take a moment to look back at some of those we lost this year.

It’s not a complete list, and not meant to be, and no disrespect is meant to anyone not here.

It’s a farewell, a celebration of diverse lives — of men and women who were, and always will be, part of this “nation” brought together by shared experiences.

Once a Wolf, always a Wolf.

Kathleen Anderson – Longtime school board member who cared deeply about each student she represented.

Gail Barron — Proud Wolf mom whose children were among the most-talented to ever suit up for Coupeville.

Jim Blouin — Vital part of a family deeply tied to Coupeville, and a frequent renter at Videoville back in my video store days.

Dr. Suzanne Bond — Coupeville Schools Superintendent whose leadership skills were impeccable. Led the district to new heights during her tenure.

Barbara Chernikoff — Grandmother to former Wolf volleyball sensation/eternal ray of sunshine Kylie Chernikoff.

Charles Clark — Everyone’s friend, a football coach who spread love near and far. The ideal traveling companion, his voice rumbling, full of wisdom (and some good-natured smack talk), as the miles passed.

Murph Cross — American Bad-Ass.

Dolores Engle — One of the kindest women you’ll ever know, a true Wolf mom, not just to her own flock, but to every kid.

Kay Foss — Longtime Coupeville teacher, and a Videoville regular with husband Dave.

Joey Glendenning — Proud Wolf mom who loved to watch daughter Lacy McCraw-Shirron repping the red and black.

Brandon Graham — A favorite of CHS teachers and fellow students, a young man who grew up to be a kind, caring father to his own children.

Sylvia Grasser — Matriarch to one of Coupeville’s most-successful sports families, she worked as a school bus driver so she could follow her grandkids games up close and personal.

Kristin Hurlburt — A lovely human being. Her spirit, her gentle humor, her embrace of life, even in trying times, lives on through her children, and her much-adored granddaughter.

Dorothy Keefe — A bright, shining light in the gym, always there to follow her kids and grandkids, always proud, always full of love for all.

Muriel Pickard — A woman who fought to preserve the beauty of Whidbey, one of the truest defenders this Island has ever had.

Daniel Renninger — Ultimate Wolf grandpa who was always there to support his granddaughters Avalon (far right) and Sage.

Sally Rhubottom — Matriarch of a family with deep roots in Wolf sports. Her son Jeff was a Coupeville basketball legend in the ’70s, and her great-granddaughter Samantha is a captain for the current CHS cheer squad.

Anne Weaver — Worked 38 years for the Coupeville School District, greeting each day with a smile.

David Wells (bottom, far left) — Coupeville born and bred, a hard-working dude with a good sense of humor.  

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Dorothy Keefe, always with a smile for all. (Photos #1, #3, #4, #5 courtesy Renae Mulholland)

She was true to her school, her town, and her family.


Dorothy Keefe, who passed away this weekend, was as big a Coupeville supporter as any you would find, and our paths crossed often as I wrote about sports.

Regardless of the situation, through good times and tough times, the matriarch of one of our most-successful families always had a smile on her face.


Whether she was watching her children recapture past glory — son Randy wowing the crowd by doing the splits at the 101st CHS basketball anniversary event — or glowing as her grandchildren continued to add to the family legend, Dorothy was a delight.

Keeping a loving eye on both her own offspring, such as son Randy, and her sons from other mothers like Bill Jarrell. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Into her 80’s, she still enjoyed getting together for coffee with classmates such as Roger Sherman, Albert Bowers, and George Libbey, and planned nearly all of her CHS Class of ’53 reunions.

Her smiling face, always there in the stands, has been a pleasant constant in the years since I started Coupeville Sports, and her impact will not be forgotten.

Dorothy Keefe was a Wolf, one of the best of them.


A pandemic couldn’t stop Dorothy from being in the stands to cheer on granddaughter Abby Mulholland.


From the family:

Dorothy Clark Keefe passed away November 20, 2021, at the age of 87.

She was born in Coupeville, Washington on October 1, 1934, to her parents, Tommy and Blanche Clark.

She graduated from Coupeville High School in 1953.

After graduation, she worked for West Coast Telephone Company as a telephone operator in Oak Harbor, Mount Vernon, and Everett.

Dorothy married Tommy Keefe on June 12, 1955, at the Coupeville Rec Hall, and two years later they built their forever home in Coupeville.

In the 60’s she was a telephone operator and worked in the business office at South Whidbey Telephone.

It was in the mid 60’s when she decided to follow her calling and become a nurse. She attended Skagit Valley College and graduated with an LPN nursing license.

Dorothy began her career at United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, then worked at Whidbey General Hospital from its beginning in 1970, until her retirement in 1992.

Most of those years were spent working in the delivery room and nursery with the newborns.

During retirement, she volunteered to work on the Coupeville Parks and Rec Commission, where she helped make improvements to the Rec Hall, obtained equipment for the Coupeville Town Park playground, and painted several town snowmen for Christmas.

Dorothy was the foundation of her family.

As a young adult, and throughout her life, she was the glue to bring her family and friends together for so many parties in her home, extending invites to the many relatives near and far.

She will be remembered for her love of babies, her help and love for family and friends, and her community.

She LOVED Coupeville.

Dorothy is survived by her four children: Rick O’Keefe of Skagit County, Randy O’Keefe of Freeland, Ryan O’Keefe of Coupeville, and Renae Mulholland (Robert “Moose” ) of Coupeville.

Reconnecting with the past with daughter Renae and son Ryan during renovations at Coupeville High School.

Also six grandchildren: Kramer (Morgan), Austin, Kendra (Nick), Courtney (Beni), Gavin (Lucy), and Abby.

Four great-grandchildren: Oliver, Annorah, Dallan, and Ryley; one brother, Pat Clark (Jan) of Langley; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Tom Keefe; her brother, Jim Clark; and her sister, Kathleen “Katy” Clark Faris.

Visitation will be held at Wallin-Stucky Funeral Home in Oak Harbor Monday, Nov. 29, from 5-7 PM.

A graveside service will be held at Sunnyside Cemetery Tuesday, Nov. 30, at 11 AM.

Immediately following the graveside, a reception will be held at the Coupeville Rec Hall.

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Charles Clark, AKA Uncle Chuck, a legend in Wolf Nation and far beyond. (Jane Dent photo)

This is a love letter, not an obituary.

One of the best men to ever be a part of Wolf Nation left us today, but his spirit will never fade.

Charles Clark was a football lifer, a player, a coach, a fan, a man who could smack talk with the best of them, only to let loose with a warm laugh which made his target laugh even louder.

He was a genuinely nice man, a strong dude not afraid to show his love for others, and he always made you feel as if you mattered.

Uncle Chuck knew the gridiron game inside out, but he never lorded his knowledge over others.

He shared it freely, whether he was working with you on the field, whether he was camped in the stands casting an eagle eye at what was playing out down below, or sitting in a car bumping down the backroads on a rainy night.

If you’re like me — a sports writer bumbling your way through, telling the legend while always knowing you don’t really comprehend the game the way an insider does — there could be no better traveling companion than Uncle Chuck.

We hit the road multiple times, with Jonathan Martin, dad to Jacob and Andy, driving, and that velvety voice flowing from the back seat.

He’d tell tales, of his own gridiron days, and those of his family members — and he regarded every guy in a uniform to be his family.

Games won and lost, legends who never made it, underdogs who did, plays long past which still lived large in his mind.

With other football lifers, Uncle Chuck could break down X’s and O’s to the smallest detail.

With me, he was patient, leading me to a deeper knowledge of the game while keeping it simple, a gentle laugh punctuating his stories.

When we stopped for ice cream in a distant town, he had a smile and a nod and some friendly words for everyone we met.

Did he know these passing folks? Didn’t matter.

If we had left Uncle Chuck in a different town, be it Port Townsend or Forks, the man would have been that town’s favorite son in a matter of hours.

People warmed to him in .00002 of a second. Being an introvert myself, it always sort of amazed me how smoothly he rolled through life.

You can’t fake the warmth and love that man had for people. And that people had back for him.

His fellow coaches loved him.

His players loved him.

Every lady in the stands, whether on Whidbey or in some far-flung place he was visiting for the first time, loved him, and every guy was fine with that, cause, darn it, they loved him too.

His impact is immeasurable, in Coupeville and beyond.

We only had Uncle Chuck as a Wolf coach for a bit, but every day he spent here he made us better.

He taught football, but he also taught life.

Play hard, play your best, always, but show respect to those you encounter, on and off the field.

Through action, through word, through a smile and a heart which were world-class, Uncle Chuck was a mentor, a role model, and, most of all, a friend.

I can’t pretend to know his whole life, of what he faced as a young Black man growing up. Or as an adult, for that matter.

But the glimpse I had of Uncle Chuck in the years I knew him was of a man who chose happiness over hate, a man who deserved our respect, our admiration, and our love.

With Covid throwing the world asunder, and him dealing with his own health issues, it has been a bit since I last shared a car with him, bumping through the night after a dose of Friday Night Lights (and a hamburger or two).

I hope he knew how much he meant to all of us.

And I hope his family knows how grateful we are for them sharing Uncle Chuck with us.

I know, going forward, he will remain with me.

Every time a linebacker busts through the defense and chases down a quarterback, I’ll hear Uncle Chuck let loose with a holler.

Every time a running back slams into the line and gets crushed, yet somehow ekes out a yard or two, I’ll hear his chuckle.

When the players and coaches gather on the field afterwards, win or loss, I’ll see Uncle Chuck down there, offering a bear hug, a back slap, a quiet word or a big whoop, depending on the need of all involved.

He loved the game, but he loved everyone involved more.

And we will love him for that, forever.

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A celebration of life has been set for Coupeville High School grad Brandon Graham, who passed away earlier this month.

The son of Jim and Dee Wheat, he was 32, and leaves behind a wife and two young children.

The celebration is set for Saturday, Sept. 11 on Whidbey Island.

For those interested in attending, you can request to join the event’s Facebook page at:


There is also a GoFundMe page set up to assist Brandon’s family, which can be found here:


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Richard “Speed” Hammons, a true Coupeville legend.

Ready to tear up the turf as a freshman in 1956.

They called him Speed.

Richard Douglass Hammons sprang into the world quickly, arriving April 19, 1941, one mile east of Lyman, in the car, as his dad punched the gas.

Nurses at Sedro-Woolley’s hospital gave the bright-eyed lil’ whippersnapper the nickname and it hung on, following him through life in Coupeville, where he was part of the CHS Class of 1959.

Speed, a Class President, a three-sport athlete, a National Merit Scholar, a man who went on to command Chinook helicopter companies on two tours in Vietnam, passed away Aug. 26, 2019 in Greenville, South Carolina.

Two years later, in a world upended by a pandemic, he will return home, in memory, as friends and family hold a celebration of his life in Coupeville next weekend.

Siblings Gary and Darlene, and Speed’s friends, will remember a man who carved a path of success in everything he did.

During his days strolling the CHS hallways, Speed lettered in football, basketball, and baseball.

Always on the move, he was class president, student body president, on the honor roll every year, and a National Merit Scholar.

But it goes beyond that, as he nailed the highest SAT score of anyone on Whidbey Island, recording a 1,590 out of a possible 1,600.

After a stint at Skagit Valley College, Speed enlisted in the Army, attending Basic Training at Fort Ord, CA, followed by Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA.

He studied Korean at the Army Language School, served overseas, added flight school at Fort Rucker, AL, then married Susan, the mother of his children, in 1966.

Speed served with great honor across two tours in Vietnam, receiving the Air Medal for heroism in aerial flight and the Bronze Star with “V” for Valor during his first tour in 1967-68.

After a promotion to Major, he went back in country from 1970-1971, earning a second Bronze Star.

During his time in Vietnam, Speed led Chinook helicopter companies, then went on to become an instructor pilot and Senior Army Aviator.

His children Kristie (1971) and Bill (1974) followed their father around the world, as he went from Fort Lewis, WA, to BadKreuznach, Germany, to Fort Meade, MD.

Retiring from the military in 1981, Speed never retired from life.

Still ahead of him was a stint as a stockbroker and opening a marriage and family therapy practice in Seattle — after earning a second Master’s degree.

In his spare time, Speed enjoyed sailing in the Puget Sound, hiking — he climbed Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and Mount Fuji (with his daughter) — biking, fishing, dancing, and golf.

After marrying Barbara on the beach in Hawaii in 2009, they settled in South Carolina.

As I go through the history of Coupeville athletic achievements, I discover new things every day.

I was born in ’71 — the same year as Speed’s daughter Kristie, and didn’t make it to Whidbey until ’89 — and up until now, he was a name I had heard, but I didn’t know much else.

Tracking down scoring stats for CHS basketball’s 104-year run on the hardwood, both he and his brother Gary popped up often.

It’s only now, however, after Sandy Roberts — Speed’s friend and classmate — sent me down this path, that I realize just how much this man accomplished.

What an impact he had, in so many worlds.

What a life he lived.

What a legacy he leaves behind.

My Hall o’ Fame here on the blog isn’t quite the same as the farewell ceremony Mr. Hammons received at Arlington National Cemetery.

But it is what I have, and today, I am greatly honored to add Richard “Speed” Hammons to my lil’ digital tribute to those who made Cow Town all it is.

After this, if you look under the Legends tab at the top of the blog, that’s where you’ll find him.

Better yet, though, he will live on in the memories of those who shared his life, and those who are now just learning about him.

All of us salute you, sir.

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