Posts Tagged ‘US Navy’

Jack McFadyen with his children, Jason and Aleshia. (All photos courtesy McFadyen family)

He was a decent man.

In a world where so many are not, I can think of no better way to describe Jack McFadyen.

The Navy brought him to Whidbey Island, along with wife Carmen, the spice to his sugar, and the couple spent decades helping make Coupeville a better place.

I arrived on The Rock in ’89 and first came to know of the duo during my early newspaper freelance days.

Later, in the fall of ’94, I walked into Videoville, and vowed to never leave my movie cocoon again.

Well, made it to 2006, which is a good run.

During those 12 years, my appreciation for the McFadyen family and the man who stood at the center of things, grew by leaps and bounds.

Pops with the grandkids a few years back.

Jack was a frequent visitor, with family and alone, sometimes to get movies, and sometimes just to hang out and class the joint up.

He was a rarity, a man who could softly needle you, then, with a huge smile, make the person he was talking to know he loved them.

And I mean that last part.

Some people are friendly, are easy-going, brighten the day of everyone they meet.

Jack went beyond that.

When he left the store, there would be a moment when you realized he really, truly loved others.

His family meant everything to him, but friend or stranger, Jack welcomed all with an embrace, whether physical or in words, which elevated all who were touched by it.

You had to be a pretty big ass for Jack to not like you.

Thankfully, as far as I know, I always stayed on his good side — even if he hated a movie I recommended — and, for that, I am grateful.

In the time between the days when he cheered his kids, Aleshia and Jason, as they wore the red and black of CHS, to my entrance into video store life, Jack was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer.

That meant he lost his larynx and used a “voice box” to speak.

It can’t have been easy, but Jack, every time I saw him, used that as a positive.

He thought it was hilarious to come up behind people at the video store counter, especially young children, and then speak with his “robot voice.”

The kids would have to be scraped off the ceiling, and then, after a great bout of chuckling, Jack would use the opportunity to tell the whippersnappers why they shouldn’t follow his path as a smoker.

His words, given with love, had a measurable impact.

The eyes of the children widened (and more than a few parents suddenly discovered someone in the store was chopping onions) and you knew this was a lesson few would forget.

Now, no one is perfect, and Jack was a deeply-committed Husky football fan, when we know Cougars rule, and the U-Dub drools.

But we’ll overlook that fact.

He was a kind and loving man, one concerned with the lives and well-being of all around him.

He served his country with great honor and distinction.

He was, and always will be, a treasured part of my Videoville memories.

Today, he joins the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, inducted as a Contributor, remembered for his enduring passion as a Wolf fan and supporter, and as an integral part of our community.

After this, when you wander past the Legends tab at the top of the blog, you’ll find him hanging out, along with son Jason and a whole lot of people who would agree with the final sentence of this story.

Love you, Jack.

Carmen and Jack.

Read Full Post »

(Photos courtesy John Fisken)

   Marilyn and John Fisken, Sr. were married for 47 years. (Photos courtesy John Fisken)


With children Mary and John, as our local paparazzi headed into graduation.


Marilyn (on right) had a long and successful bowling career.


Present-opening time.


The Fiskens wed.


John and Mary with their mom.

She served her country and she served her family.

Marilyn Dell (Lee) Fisken, who passed away Aug. 8 in Seattle, just shy of her 82nd birthday, was a friendly, outgoing woman much loved by her children.

One of those progeny is John Fisken, a man who devotes a considerable amount of his free time to snapping photos which grace the stories here on Coupeville Sports.

And, while I didn’t know his mom very well, the one time I met her, before a Coupeville High School volleyball match where the Wolves were helping to raise funds in honor of John’s sister Mary’s ongoing battle with cancer, she made an immediate impression on me.

She had been ill for some time, fighting her own battles, but she was clear-eyed and warm, a fighter herself, from way back.

As I’ve learned more about her life, my admiration for her only widens.

Marilyn was born in Clarinda, Iowa Sept. 23, 1934, the only daughter of Robert and Rubie (Holbrook) Lee, sister to three brothers — Robert Jr., Brainard and Roger.

She came to Washington when her parents obtained work at Ft. Lewis during World War II, eventually graduating from Tacoma’s Lincoln High School in 1952.

She found her own calling in the military, proudly serving in the United States Navy from 1952-1960, rising to Yeoman 2nd Class.

It was a family tradition, with two of her brothers and her son also serving in the Navy.

After leaving the military behind, the American sailor married the pride of Canada, John Ledlie Fisken, in 1961, and the duo raised two children over the course of a 47-year marriage.

Remembered by those closest to her as a “kind, generous person” who got her greatest joy from her family, Marilyn was always up to something.

An avid bowler for three decades, she transitioned into a wily bridge player in her later years.

Regardless of what activity she might be doing, she was drawn to others, and them to her.

“She was very social and loved having a house full of people,” her son said.

Preceded in death by her parents and her husband, who passed in 2008, Marilyn leaves behind a large, tightly-knit family.

John (and wife Diane), Mary, all three brothers and grandchildren Kathryn (Fisken) Sooter (and husband Erik) and Michael Fisken survive her, as do numerous nieces and nephews.

She is also survived by her beloved great-niece, Nellie Scoular, who lived with Marilyn and her husband for several years.

Later Nellie was a deeply devoted live-in caretaker for both Marilyn and Mary.

Family is planning a memorial for Mrs. Fisken, set for Sunday, Aug. 28, 3 PM at Alderwood Community Church (3403 Alderwood Mall Blvd) in Lynnwood.

As befits a woman who wasn’t fussy, and loved both football and family deeply, dress is casual.

In fact, if you were to show up wearing Seahawk or Husky gear, it would be viewed as a loving tribute to a die-hard fan who wasn’t shy about her loyalties.

Read Full Post »

Matt Helm and fiancee Jenna Ure.

Matt Helm and fiancee Jenna Ure.

Fire Gods Jerry (left) and Matt Helm.

Fire Gods Jerry (left) and Matt Helm. (Photos courtesy Jerry Helm)

Younger days.

Younger days with sister Mollie.

Let’s mix it up and get personal.

As we send a 43rd class into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame today, it’s going to be a one-man class and I’m going to leave the heavy lifting up to someone else.

Matt Helm was (is) a superb athlete and an even better person, and older brother Jerry, already a Hall member, is stepping forward to induct his lil’ bro.

After this, you’ll find both of them sitting together atop this blog, under the Legends tab.

So, without further ado, I give up the stage to Jerry.

My brother Matthew and I were always competitive towards each other.

As hard as it is for the older brother to publicly admit, he was a much better athlete then I ever was.

I was the hot-headed older brother; he was the quiet smooth assassin.

His ability to focus on the game and shut out the noise always made me envious. He could dribble circles around me, and shoot three pointers in my face all day long.

A very unique opportunity surfaced when I started coaching the high school track and field team.

That year, his senior year, he decided to join the track team for the first time.

Track for me was the last sport where I thought I still had the upper hand on him.

Then during his first meet, he decided to show his older brother up and crush my best height in the high jump event.

As proud as I was, I secretly was still being the hot-headed older brother inside.

What took me four years of hard work, he was able to best it, at his first attempt.

My brother and I also shared a very hard lesson our senior years.

We both ended up breaking bones that sidelined us during our senior year of football.

While mine was in the beginning of the season and I was able to make it back for the final stretch of the season, Matt’s was towards the end, which forced him to miss a big portion of his final basketball season.

In the end we both ended up missing huge portions of the sport we loved the most.

Seeing the pain on his face while sitting on the sidelines, brought back a flood of memories and was a moment of déjà vu.

My heart hurt for him and I could totally understand what he was going through at the moment.

The love I have for my younger brother is laced with tremendous pride that we wore the same Coupeville uniform and shared the same playing fields.

His bravery and strength to this day is something that still inspires me.

His decision to join the US Navy to help protect our country shows his incredible strength and dedication.

Siblings often don’t tell each other often enough how much they love each other, but Matthew’s slower, less-talented, older brother loves him very much and is very proud of him.

Read Full Post »

And then the post-midnight commute got a bit longer. (John Fisken photos)

And then the post-midnight commute got a bit longer. (John Fisken photos)

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!"

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!”

Traffic was unusual Saturday night in Oak Harbor.

For anyone out and about after midnight, instead of tailgating an RV lurching from side to side or Aunt Martha doing 12 MPH in a 40, you might have found yourself stuck behind a large airplane.

Driving, not flying.

The Navy was moving its PBY-5A plane, which I’ve nicknamed Sir Reginald of Chutney (cause I feel like it) from the Seaplane Base to its new home right across from the new PBY museum on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor.

Out and about at that hour (drink Diet Coke all day and you’ll be up all night…) was John Fisken, who clicked the photos above and was nice enough to pass them on.

Read Full Post »