Archive for the ‘In memory’ Category

Lathom Kelley — A bad ass with the biggest heart in the game.

Each life has a story to tell, and each life is part of a bigger tapestry.

As we head towards the end of 2022, we’re taking a moment to look back and commemorate some of those we lost this year.

This is not a complete list by any means, and no disrespect is meant to anyone left out.

But 14 of these men and women had a sizable impact on Wolf Nation, and two others are included here for their personal impact on me.

We remember them for what they added to our world, both as individuals and as part of something all-encompassing.

Never forgotten. Always remembered.

Bill Baas — A vital part of the 106-year brotherhood of Coupeville High School boys’ basketball. Scored at the varsity level in three seasons, while sharing the court with program legends like Barry Brown and Jeff Stone.

Joe Beckley — Former Island County Health Department Director and coach of Libby’s Little Ladies, the first fastpitch softball team in Coupeville. A Wolf Dad through and through who avidly encouraged his own daughters, and their friends, in their sports pursuits.

Carol Byng — Award-winning journalist and poet who wrote about many of the biggest stories to touch Whidbey Island, from the eruption of Mt. St Helens to a fiery shootout on the South End. Also, one of the nicest customers I ever had at Videoville.

Noel Criscuola — A four-year varsity basketball player, he tallied 298 points and was part of the 32-student Class of ’61 — largest in school history at the time.

Ray Edwards — Coupeville grad who did it all. An avid hunter, a golfing fiend, and a bowler who rolled a pair of 300 games, they never built a car or truck he couldn’t fix.

Jack Elzinga — Rattled the rims for 770 points and is the #15 scorer in Wolf boys’ basketball history. Later served in the Peace Corps, was a college professor, and wrote me very nice emails after discovering my obsession with his hoops career.

Dr. Joyce Foxx — Former Oak Harbor High School Athletic Director, the first I worked with during my tentative early days as a sportswriter in the early ’90s.

Andrea Huff — A dedicated Wolf Mom whose children and grandchildren featured prominently in many of my sports stories. Plus, she was always in a great mood when she came to Videoville back in the day.

Esther Hummel — Hardworking, sweet-natured woman who brightened many a day during her time working at her family’s business, The County Deli.

Lanie Kiel — Wolf Mom who spread love to daughters Katie and Kacie, and all of their teammates and friends. Her presence lit up the stands.

Roy Marti — Stellar all-around athlete whose 551 points on the basketball court rank him #40 all-time among Coupeville boys, and #1 in his family, edging sister Judy, who tallied 545.

Jack McPherson — Mayor and town councilmember who played a key role in the movement to preserve Ebey’s Landing. A veteran of two wars who retired as a Naval Commander, and also a proud grandpa.

Matt Mikos — Husband to former Miriam’s Espresso superstar barista Wendy (Frost) Mikos, and devoted father to four amazing kids.

Steve Smith — Phenomenal athlete who went on to serve with great distinction in Vietnam, before launching a family which provided Coupeville with some of its biggest stars of the past three decades. Could tell a story like few others.

Teresa Terry — Longtime Prairie Center employee, a starter on the first CHS softball team in ’78, and a freakin’ ray of sunshine.

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Noel Criscuola, frozen in time, forever a Wolf hoops legend. (Photo courtesy Sharon Franzen)

The past, present, and future, all linked together.

Our ongoing efforts to track individual scoring totals for Coupeville High School basketball players pulls together multiple generations of Wolf hoops stars.

Once you’re in the fraternity, whether you played back in the program’s first season in 1917, or are suiting up for CHS this year, you’re part of something larger than yourself.

So, a day before the 2022-2023 season tips off, we pause to remember one of the greats.

Noel Criscuola, CHS Class of 1961, passed away at age 79 on Thanksgiving Day.

The younger brother of “Big” Mike Criscuola, the program’s first true superstar, Noel made his own strong impact for the Wolves.

He played, and scored, for the varsity team all four years of his high school run, compiling 298 career points in a Wolf uniform.

More than 60 years after his graduation, Noel still sits among the top 100 scorers all-time, currently residing at #97 among the 406 Wolf boys who I have been able to document rippling the nets at the varsity level.

After tossing in 20 points as a freshman, Noel added 46 as a sophomore, 70 as a junior, and 162 as a senior.

It’s very likely he would have scored more, except for playing alongside some of the program’s best bucket-makers.

Noel played three seasons with his brother Mike, #4 all-time in CHS boys history with 1,031 points, while also teaming with luminaries such as Denny Clark, Utz Conard, Gary Hammons, Denny Zylstra, and Sandy Roberts.

When he graduated in 1961, Noel was part of a 32-student group, the largest class to come through Coupeville High School in its first six decades.

In death, he will return to the prairie, and will be buried next to his father at Sunnyside Cemetary in a private ceremony.

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Sean Toomey-Stout pauses to remember fellow Coupeville grad Lathom Kelley before Saturday’s University of Washington football game. (Photo courtesy Raven Vick)

Lathom’s memorial service. (Ben Smith photo)

It was a life well-lived.

Lathom Kelley, who died in a kayak accident in September, was a unique human being — large in personality, and always surprising.

He was a rugged athlete, a slick ladies’ man, a mama’s boy, rough and tough, but kind and caring.

Lathom loved his family and treated virtually everyone he met as his family.

He could crack heads (often his own), but also sweep others up with a kind gesture and a smile which lit up the prairie.

From the first moments of Coupeville Sports a decade ago, when he was a cartwheeling freshman and I was just exploring this transition to blogging, Lathom was The Dude.

Your dude. My dude. The dude each and every one of us needed in our lives.

He will be greatly missed, but he will never be forgotten.


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Ryan Griggs (left) and Lathom Kelley, living large. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

“Yes, I’m planning shenanigans. My name is Lathom, isn’t it??”

A celebration of Lathom Kelley’s life is set for Saturday, Oct. 22.

The event starts at 1:00 PM at the Coupeville Recreation Hall, which is at 901 NW Alexander St.

Anyone who has special photos, videos, or stories about Lathom is asked to submit them to the Kelley family for inclusion in the memorial.

They ran, yes, but they looked cool doing it. L to r: Jacob Smith, Dalton Martin, Jared Helmstadter, Lathom.


From Lathom’s family:


Lathom McCrae Kelley, 25, died unexpectedly on September 10th, 2022, in a kayaking accident just off the coast of Guemes Island, WA.

He was born September 7, 1997, in Honolulu, HI, the son of Lincoln Kelley and Shawna Hunsaker Kelley.

Lathom graduated from Coupeville High School, class of 2016.

Following graduation, he earned an Auto and Diesel Technology II Associates Degree from Universal Technical Institute in Avondale, AZ.

He served as a lead technician at Halterman’s on a team repairing RVs.

He, Ashley Barbour, and her son, Beau, formed a beautiful, young family until the time of the accident.

If you knew Lathom, you knew he enjoyed life and, in his presence, you probably did too!

His strength and energy exceeded the confines of every space he occupied.

His ability to conjure up some kind of crazy stunt or be encouraged to follow through kept the Kelley household on the edge of our seats.

We know this is a shock to you all, as it is for us.

He will always resonate in our hearts and minds and will be dearly missed.

He was predeceased by grandmother Kathy Hohnstein, grandfather Bobby Mitchael Kelley, and Uncle Wesley Hammer.

He is survived by immediate family Ashley and Beau Barbour, parents Shawna Kelley, Lincoln Kelley, Brad Barbour, Janet Barbour, brother Brandon Kelley, Grandmother Thelma Kelley, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.


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Lathom Kelley’s jersey, and the prairie where he spent many a day. (Bennett Richter photo)

Wolf Nation is embracing one of its families.

Coupeville High School coaches, administrators, athletes, students, teachers, and fans will unite this Friday, Sept. 16 to honor Lathom Kelley and his family at halftime of a football game with Sultan.

Lathom, who graduated with the CHS Class of 2016, is believed to have died after a kayak accident Saturday between Guemes Island and Jack Island.

A search involving multiple police and fire departments and the U.S. Coast Guard recovered the kayak and an oar, which were stuck under the water’s surface in a kelp bed.

Lathom’s backpack was separately recovered, and it was confirmed he had not been wearing a life jacket.

A local diver with experience in operating in kelp braved the strong currents and high tide to lead a two-day search but a body has not been recovered.

After consultation with Lathom’s family, Coupeville High School Athletic Director Willie Smith issued the following statement Wednesday morning:


As you all know, CSD lost one of our own last weekend.

For those of you that didn’t know Lathom, he was one of those students that tested every ounce of one’s patience with his, at once crazy and limit-pushing behavior and in the next moment his positive and embracing behavior.

His father, Lincoln, worked for our district in the maintenance department for many years and was also part of our high school track program, coaching with Randy King for many years.

Brandon, his brother, also graduated from CHS and was an amazingly positive and quiet leader in his own right while at CHS.

Our football team (along with Ryan King, a former CMS/CHS coach), upon hearing of Lathom’s passing, immediately reached out to their coach with the idea of honoring Lathom with a presentation of his jersey, number #44, to his parents and family at halftime of our home game this Friday night.

They will also be wearing a #44 sticker on their helmets the remainder of the season in his honor.

The Kelleys are overwhelmed with this gesture by our football team, and it would go a long way in helping them deal with this unbelievable loss if we had a full showing of support for them at the game. 

Please join us this Friday at 7:00 PM as we come together and wrap a grieving family in the arms of our Wolf family. 

Lathom Kelley poses with parents Lincoln and Shawna, during Senior Night football festivities in 2015. (Gabe Wynn photo)

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