Posts Tagged ‘obit’

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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Tyler Dale, friend to all. (Photos courtesy Kathi Dale)

Tyler Dale was an original.

A kind, hard-working guy, he bopped to his own beat, while being one of those rare people who was well-liked by all.

During the three years we worked together at Christopher’s on Whidbey, he lit up the kitchen.

There was no job too big or too small for Tyler, and he thrived amid the heat and the splattering grease.

A slow Wednesday night or the middle of the never-ending storm that was the mussel festival, he was in his element.

Cooking, slicing ‘n dicing, or cleaning (he loved cleaning like no one I know), he always let loose with a steady stream of chatter and laughter which carried from one end of the cramped work space to the other.

Tyler passed too soon, but he will live on through his son, and the memories of all who crossed his path.


From his mom, Kathi Dale:

Tyler James Dale

September 30, 1990 – July 19, 2019

Born on September 30, 1990, growing up in Everett, Washington until the age of seven, when the family made the move to Whidbey Island.

He attended Coupeville Elementary School, where he was involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, loving the Pinewood Derby.

He loved working with Destination Imagination, to create and invent fun and amazing gadgets.

In middle school, Tyler was selected to participate in Day Star Academy with Mrs. (Liz) Sherman and Mrs. (Mendy) McLean-Stone, where his creativity was encouraged, working on “Tyler time.”

After a short time in Coupeville High School he then transferred to Bayview School.

Tyler was not a ‘book learner’ and learned best with hands-on experiences.

He then participated in job corp in Yachats, Oregon, where he received his General Education Degree (GED) in May, 2008.

Tyler began working at Christopher’s on Whidbey, as a dishwasher. Working his way up to prepping and a line cook.

This is where his creativity and love for cooking was advanced.

Being a “tinkerer” of many things. Beginning with models and bicycles.

One of his most favorite things was his Chevy S-10 trucks and blazers.

Tyler loved trucks, working on them, and sharing his knowledge with others.

Always making improvements and advances to make it go faster, having a custom look.

He enjoyed creating many things out of used items.

Tyler was gifted with an amazing analytical and problem-solving mind on how to make things work.

Tyler developed a love for the banjo and taught himself how to play. Something that brought that big silly smile to his face.

Two buddies hanging out.

After knowing each other since third grade and being close friends for many years, Tyler married Becca (Achurra) on May 18, 2013 in Moses Lake, Wa.

With the birth of their son, Craig James Ray Dale in December, 2016.

Tyler, wife Becca, and their son, Craig.

Tyler loved being a daddy to his son.

Teaching him “car things.”

Tyler, you are loved and missed.

Always a proud poppa.

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CHS grad Natalie (Slater) Maneval congratulates her college softball coach, Denny Zylstra, for being inducted into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame in 2015. (Photo courtesy Maneval)

One of the true legends of Wolf Nation has passed away, but his memory and impact will last forever.

Denny Zylstra, a 1958 graduate of Coupeville High School, was a three-sport star for the Wolves (football, basketball, baseball) who continued as an active athlete into his 40’s.

He played competitive football until he was 37, basketball until he was 45, and never really gave up softball.

Zylstra made his diamond debut when he was just eight years old, and played for an adult team during his high school days.

Over the years, he played softball in Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Spain, Italy and across America.

This included playing in state tournaments in Virginia, California and Washington, and sponsoring and pitching one of his teams to second-place at state when he was a 41-year-old whippersnapper.

When he wasn’t playing, Zylstra and wife Marcia, his high school sweetheart, were huge Coupeville High School sports fans, attending numerous games. The duo also ran the softball concession stand.

He also took the lessons learned as a player, and used them to teach the next generations.

Following in the footsteps of Mert Waller, his high school coach, and mentor, Zylstra coached multiple sports over a 50-year span, with many of those seasons here on Whidbey.

After a stint in the Navy, Zylstra began his coaching career in Virginia Beach, running a Little League team.

From there, he moved into softball, with his first stint on Whidbey coming from 1975-1985, when he coached junior (13-15) teams.

Zylstra bounced between the college and high school game in later years, working as a coach for Skagit Valley College (1986-1997, 2004-2008), Oak Harbor High School (1999-2002) and, in his final stop, back at his alma mater.

Returning to CHS in 2009, he was head coach for two seasons, and then an assistant up through his 50th and final campaign in 2012.

Mimi (Iverson) Johnson and Natalie (Slater) Maneval were Coupeville grads who played for Zylstra at Skagit Valley College, and both remember him fondly.

Denny was such a bright light everywhere he went,” Johnson said. “He had a smile and laugh that was infectious.

“His love for his players, the game, and coaching was inspiring,” she added. “I know his legacy is huge!! He will be greatly missed.”

That’s a sentiment shared by Maneval.

“He was one of the kindest men and had a very infectious smile and laugh,” she said. “I was blessed years ago to see him being inducted into the coaches hall of fame.

Denny, you will be missed by so many and you will always leave a huge impact on so many of us softball players!”

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Jon Diem heads to the hoop while playing for Oak Harbor High School. (Photos courtesy Sherry Roberts)

   Jon Diem heads to the hoop while playing for Oak Harbor High School. (Photos courtesy Sherry Roberts)

The basketball slides along the young boy’s fingertips for a moment, and then, in one smooth motion, it arcs skyward.

The young boy holds his breath, the ball hits nothing but the bottom of the net, and the young boy exhales, a superstar already on the cracked cement court.

And then the young boy is a young man, and now he’s wearing his school’s uniform, but the look in his eyes, the smile on his face, the feeling of the ball slipping off his fingertips, are all the same.

This time, when the ball hits the bottom of the net, a referee’s hands shoot skyward, the young man’s friends, family and classmates go crazy and the young man is a superstar again, but in a different world.

And then the young man is a grown man, living in the real world, helping nurture the daughter who will continue to carry his name forward, and he is a superstar still.

One day, the grown man, who has endured much hardship in his life, but has remained, against all odds, a kind, caring soul described as “the most talented and humble athlete I have ever known,” leaves our world, too soon.

The sound of the basketball rhythmically hitting the court, the baseball thunking into his mitt, fades, but his memory does not.

For his family, and his friends — which included everyone he played with and against — Jon Diem will always be here.

Diem, who passed away just weeks shy of his 45th birthday, leaves behind seven siblings — brothers David, Michael and Robert and sisters Mary, Cathie, Nancy and Shawn — his father Charles and his beloved daughter Lexie.

Diem and daughter

Jon and daughter Lexie.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Sara, and will be laid to rest next to her at Coupeville’s Sunnyside Cemetery.

From the moment he popped into the world Feb. 26, 1972, Jon brought a light with him.

One of the most gifted athletes Coupeville has ever seen, he moved up to the big city (Oak Harbor) for high school.

A standout basketball and baseball player while wearing the purple and gold Wildcat uniforms, Diem graduated with the OHHS Class of 1991.

On the hard-court, Jon was a lights-out shooter from long range, a three-ball king in short shorts who lit up the scoreboards while running alongside teammates such as Tony Midyette, Manny Martucci, Pat Herms and Trig Johnson.

Many of the first games I covered for the Whidbey News-Times, in my fledgling journalism career, involved watching Diem drop bombs from all angles against teams like Marysville-Pilchuck or Shorewood.

There wasn’t a spot on the floor on which he didn’t feel confident launching a trey, and he hit an astonishing number of his efforts.

On the baseball field, he was a two-way threat, adept with the bat and his glove while roaming the infield for the ‘Cats.


Diem comes in hot during his diamond days.

Jon played baseball at OHHS from 1988-1991 and was the starting second baseman and cleanup hitter on the Wildcat team that placed second at the 3A state tourney in 1990.

“The thing I remember most about Jon after all these years was his gentleness,” said former longtime OHHS baseball coach Jim Waller. “Teenage boys probably don’t want to be called sweet, but that is the best way to describe him.

“He was quiet and thoughtful, selfless and caring. Although he was shy around the coaching staff, he liked to laugh and would play practical jokes on his teammates.”

As an athlete, Diem had raw talent for days, but it was his work ethic which caught his coach’s attention.

“He was a graceful athlete, one of those players who moved so fluidly that it appeared sports came easily to them,” Waller said. “Yes, he had natural talent, but his success wasn’t solely from his innate ability but from his hard work and dedication to the game.

“He had the qualities all coaches want in an athlete — a strong work ethic, a willingness to put the team first, a willingness to be coached, an ability to laugh and laugh at himself, a hunger to win, a respect for his opponents,” he added. “And, more importantly, those qualities are a mark of a good person as well as a high-character athlete.”

In the days after Jon’s passing, friends and former teammates poured out their love for him on Facebook, and their words paint a picture of a gifted athlete who was a better person.

Of a man who ultimately cared as much, or more, about others accomplishments as his own.

“He was such a stud,” wrote former CHS athletic star Ben Biskovich, who grew up alongside Diem in Coupeville. “Always the best athlete on the field and always so humble.

“When we were picking teams, I always wanted to be on his team.”

That was a thought echoed by Jason LaMont, whose own athletic experiences landed on a different side of the spectrum from Biskovich.

“He (Jon) always treated everyone nice, even me, who sucked at sports,” LaMont said. “Even as a kid, he was building people up.”

For Chris Potts, who stayed in contact with Diem long after high school, it was Diem’s approach to life, and not just sports, which made him so memorable.

“He was an amazing soul, with a humble confidence,” Potts said. “A happy-go-lucky approach to life.

“An amazing sense of humor that was punctuated by a crooked grin and a laugh that invited everyone to join in,” he added. “He had a heart just a chosen few are given in this life.”

Jon’s ability to be the best athlete in the room, or on the field, and yet never make anyone feel like he was lording it over them, carried on after his prep athletic career had ended.

He continued to play in his adult years, making new friends every step of the way.

“Playing together as an adult when it was for the pure love of the game and not the pressures of school, but back to the feeling of being a kid for a few hours,” Steve Van Rensum said.

“Rest easy old friend, teammate and brother. Sit fastball and don’t get cheated.”

In the distance, you can hear it, a soft sound at first that grows with each heartbeat.

The young boy twirls the basketball on his fingertip, then lets it drop into his palm. His breath slips out in a ragged burst and the ball slides off his hands, arcing skyward.

A soft bang as it hits the backboard, a softer swish as it drops through the hoop.

The young boy continues to shoot long after the sky has turned from afternoon into early evening.

It is his escape. It is his love.

The ball drops through the hoop, again and again, and he never stops shooting.

Tonight, and every night, Jon Diem lives on, out there on that court or diamond, in all of our memories.

Jon Diem (1972-2017)

Jon Diem (1972-2017)

A service for Jon Diem will be held at 11 AM Friday, Feb. 3 at Saint Augustine’s Catholic Church in Oak Harbor. It will be followed by a graveside burial at Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Boeing Employee Credit Union.

A college fund has been set up for Jon’s daughter, Lexi Diem. It’s at Bank of America Acct: Lexie Diem college fund; routing #: 125000024; account #: 138122330559.

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