Archive for the ‘In memory’ Category

Kathy Jolly

She’s part of the Wolf hoops sisterhood.

Kathy Jolly, who lost a long-term battle with cancer, was on the second girls’ basketball team to represent Coupeville High School.

Having moved to Cow Town in time for her senior year, she scored 25 points for the 1975-1976 Wolves, putting her fifth on the team in scoring.

With lil’ sis Sharon dropping in 75 points across the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons, the siblings accounted for a nice, round 100 points as a duo.

While I don’t think I knew her personally — though who knows, she may have been a Videoville customer — Kathy Jolly was a tax accountant, like my mother.

And, as part of my ongoing obsession with tracking every last point scored in a CHS varsity basketball game, she certainly deserves to be remembered by Wolf hoops fans.


Jolly’s obit:

Long-time Oak Harbor resident and tax accountant Kathy Jolly passed away on December 7, 2022, following a lengthy battle with cancer.

She was born February 20, 1958, in Longview, Washington and was preceded in death by her parents, Dave and Shirley Jolly of Coupeville.

She is survived by her siblings; Shari Steece of Oak Harbor, WA, Pam (and Dave) Keck of Athol, ID, and Dave Jolly (and Lori Davis) of Tigard, OR; her 29 beloved nieces and nephews spanning two generations; and her best friend, Rebecca Salazar of Oak Harbor.

Kathy grew up in the Riverton Heights area of South Seattle.

Her family moved just before her senior year of high school to Coupeville, where she graduated as class Valedictorian.

She earned her BA in Business Administration from the University of Washington.

After several years of work as an accountant, she spent 18 months in Japan as a full-time missionary for LIFE Ministries, based out of Southern California, where Kathy had been “adopted” by the Salazar family.

She moved back to Whidbey in 1986 and worked for the tax and accounting firm Bridges and Rodgers, where she forged relationships with clients that lasted for decades.

Kathy eventually bought the business, renaming it Pacific Grace Tax & Accounting as a testament to her life-long faith as a Christian.

She became an Enrolled Agent in 1999, passing all four parts of the IRS exam at her first sitting.

With the heart of a teacher, Kathy treasured working with her clients and employees.

In 2012, she welcomed Ronnie Wright, MBA and EA, as a business partner and good friend.

Kathy was instrumental in building and enriching the WAATP (Washington Association of Accountants and Tax Professionals) organization, serving in multiple roles on their Board of Directors for well over a dozen years.

She also spent years on Toddler Learning Center and American Red Cross Regional boards.

She taught briefly at Skagit Valley Community College and served on their Advisory Committee.

For all who knew her, Kathy’s faith, smile, and joyful laugh are unforgettable.

She delighted in children and their laughter, was a great cook, and never gave up on the Seattle Mariners.

She reveled in the outdoors, whether leading songs around a campfire or dipping her toes in the ocean.

She loved pretty earrings, classic Disney everything, good hair days, Mexican food, balloons, and playing games.

Kathy was fond of saying that God never works just one side of a problem and was living proof of its truth.

Even from a hospital bed, she taught hospital staff the importance of including a focus on joy and peace, prompting a new style of conversation that alleviated, for Kathy and others going forward, the frustration of being asked largely pain-centric questions.

Her ceaseless prayer was to keep a song in her heart, and she was quick to share it with others.

Kathy valued her clients, cherished her friends, and adored her family.

Though sorely missed by all here, she is now at home with her Savior and King.

A Celebration of Life for Kathy will be held at Family Bible Church (2760 Heller St – Oak Harbor) Saturday, February 18, 2023, at 2:00 PM.

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Jake Ryder-Johnson

The gumball machine was the center of the universe.

There was once a video store stashed in a small town in the middle of a rock in the water up on the left side of the Pacific Northwest.

From 1994-2006, Miriam Meyer paid me very well, and gave me access to thousands of movies (and a free, brand-new DVD player which still works despite my best efforts to overheat it), as long as I hung around Videoville.

There were buckets of slushy mocha granita at hand, mountains of free merch from movie studios anxious to get in good with every video store dude (and dudette) who might be the next Quinten Tarantino, and Bugsy Malone played on the store’s TV screens.

And up front by the door, sending out a siren song to every lil’ kid in town, was the giant gumball machine, offering entertainment and rock-hard tooth rattlers for a quarter a pop.

Slip your coin in the slot, and round and round the brightly colored ball would go as it travelled its path to your waiting hand.

Or, in the case of a lot of the wee ones, to be left in the slot, unclaimed.

They wanted to watch the gumball whizz around and around, and their abandoned candy waited to be snatched up by video store employees.

Out the back door we went, carrying golf clubs and tees, and we smacked the liberated gumballs at a fellow teenaged employee as he ran back and forth, daring us to hit him.

This was — for young’uns who don’t even know what a video store was, much less that one held down the building now housing Harada Physical Therapy — in a time before The Pizza Factory was plopped down.

These days, we’d bust some windows.

Back then it was all open fields and B.C. Wells screaming “Not the nads! Not my precious nads!!” as we aimed, ALWAYS, for his crotch with our tee shots.

No worries, though. He’s gone on to father multiple children, so it all worked out.

But why do I bring this up now?

Because back then, in between the quarters slipping into the slot, and gumballs crackin’ off people’s private parts, the gumball machine was also where you’d find Jake Ryder-Johnson holding court.

He was a high school kid, a musician, a dreamer, forever boppin’ along to a song only he could hear.

Jake was in a car accident with my sister one time, but they both walked away unhurt, and he returned to hangin’ out at Videoville, a sleepy smile on his face.

“I got something for you, Dave. One time thing,” he said.

And then Jake, drumming with his fingers on top of the gumball machine, played, perfectly, the theme song to Scooby-Doo.

It wasn’t the first time he knocked a musical moment out of the park, and not the last time, but it’s the one which has stuck with me, all these years later.

Jake was a little bit Matthew McConaughey, before we knew who McConaughey was, a little bit Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and a whole lot of just himself, unique in every way.

His life wasn’t always the easiest, and it’s been a bit since I last saw him in person, but he’s one of those dudes whose memory doesn’t fade.

Jake died unexpectedly a few weeks back, and that truly sucks.

But he’s always going to be part of my memories of my Videoville years, the one time in my life when my job didn’t seem like work at all.

I’m behind the counter trying to convince the world Bottle Rocket is a classic, the Reese’s Pieces are close by, an opera just kicked into gear on the TV’s (messin’ with the customers…), and Jake?

He’s drumming the theme to Scooby-Doo on the gumball machine, now and forever.


To help Jake’s family and friends, check out:


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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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