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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
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Biographies and obituaries of Skagit county
Pioneers and their descendants: F-G

Continually updated, last time: May 17, 2011
      You will find the type of story in brackets ( ) behind the file link. (Bio) indicates a Journal story link. (Obit) leads to an obituary on this page. If you have suggestions for people you want to read about, please email us and we will add them to the list. Meanwhile, just click on the link and it will take you to the obit for each person, along with our notes, if we have more information, or a link to another page that will tell you more about him or her. Please note that if a woman was the descendant of a pioneer family, her link will be listed under the first letter of both her maiden name and her married name at the time of her death. And please email us if you have family memories or copies of documents or photos you would like us to include. We never ask for your originals.

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Members of the Bradley and Clara Fisk family, Sedro-Woolley
Alex Fisk, Sedro-Woolley and Montesano
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, April 12, 1956
      Alex Fisk, pioneer resident of Sedro-Woolley, passed away at Montesano, Wash., on March 25. Mr. Fisk was born March 18, 1884, at Westport, Oregon, coming to Sedro-Woolley with his parents, the late Mr. And Mrs. B. Fisk, in 1889. He resided here and wherever his work took him through the Skagit valley for more than 40 years, always employed as a shingle weaver or logger. It was this work also which took him to Montesano, where he has been living for the past 30 years. He is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Lily Pitman of Seattle and Mrs. Clara Nehring of Portland. Also surviving are a number of nieces and nephews.
      Ed. note: We first learned about the Fisks from Stephanie Lokkebo of Sedro-Woolley, who is the great-great-granddaughter of Bradley and Clara Fisk. She supplied the brief obituary of Clara below. The 1905 Polk Directory shows Bradley as a logger; the 1913 Polk Directory shows that the couple lived at the corner of Bennett and 7th streets in Sedro-Woolley, three blocks east of the union high school, which was built two years before. Sons Alex and Clarence are shown as living with them. Stephanie notes that most of the couples sons worked as shingleweavers. Daughter Lillie [Stephanie descends from Lillie] attended school at the famous Township street Sedro school in 1890 where teacher William Bell taught classes on two floors from a desk fitted on the desk between them. The late Marj Peters, who passed away in the spring of 2003 was also a descendant of Lillie.

Charles Fisk, Sedro-Woolley and Oregon
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, March 1940
      Charles Fisk, son of the late Mr. And Mrs. B.W. Fisk, pioneer residents of Sedro-Woolley, died at his home in Albany, Oregon, on March 17, at the age of 59 years. He spent his youth here, later moving to Oregon where he was associated with the Doernbecker Bros. Lumber Co. for the past 26 years.
      Besides his wife, Martha, and eight children, Mr. Fisk is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Lillia Pitman of Seattle, and Mrs. Clara Becraft of Kelso, and two brothers, Clarence Fisk of Kelso and Alex Fisk of Montesano.

Mrs. Clara A. [Bartlett] Flynn, Lyman
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, June 18 1936, p. 1
      Mrs. Clara A. Flynn, wife of Charles Flynn and a resident of Lyman for 56 years died at her home, June 14. She was born at Lee, Maine December 31 1852. Survived by husband, daughters Mrs. F.M. Meyers and Mrs. Elizabeth Roughton, son Clifford Cooper, 9 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. She homesteaded in Lyman and was one of the towns founders. Funeral services were yesterday afternoon at the home of her daughter Mrs. F.M. Meyers. Burial Lyman Cemetery. [Obit provided by Ened Roughton]

Charles Flynn, Lyman
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, May 11, 1939, p. 6
      Charles Flynn, age 89, one of the oldest Skagit County pioneers died on Monday at home of his daughter, Mrs. Frank Meyers, at Lyman. Funeral services were held at Lemley Funeral Home 2:30 yesterday afternoon. Mr. Flynn was born in Albany, NY July 9, 1947. He moved to California at age of 21 and in spring of 1876 came to Skagit Co. He married December 1889 to Mrs. Clara A. Cooper. [Obit provided by Ened Roughton]

Mrs. Clara Fisk, Sedro-Woolley
Mount Vernon Herald, March 2, 1935
      Sedro-Woolley lost two pioneer citizens this week with the death in Seattle Wednesday of J. T. Davis and the passing of Mrs. Clara Fisk at her home in this city Thursday morning. Funeral rites for Mrs. Fisk will be held at 2 o'clock Monday afternoon at the chapel of the Lemley Mortuary in this city with Rev. H. I. Ford, pastor of the local Christian church, officiating. Interment will be in the Union cemetery. Mrs. Fisk, who was born in 1858 in Indiana, was married to Bradley W. Fisk in Seattle in 1877. They came to Sedro-Woolley to make their home in 1890. Mrs. Fisk, whose husband and one son, Edwin, preceded her in death, is survived by two daughters and three sons: Mrs. Lillie Pittman and Clarence Fisk, of Sedro-Woolley; Mrs. Clara Becraft, of Wheeler, Oregon; Charles Fisk, of Albany, Oregon, and Alex Fisk of Montesano."

(Albert Frank)
Albert Frank, Concrete
Skagit Valley Herald
      Albert Frank passed away at his home in Concrete, in the loving arms of his family at 9:45 P.M. on December 15, 2007. He was 93 years old. He was born on February 28, 1914 to Rafaela and Gaetano Francomano, at home, in the "Little Italy" section of Concrete. The town had been recently renamed "Concrete" to replace "Baker," because the Superior Portland Cement Company was the main employer in that bustling little community. Many of his relatives worked for that company. Not long after, his Father shortened the family name; it was not a legal issue, and not just for an easier pronunciation and spelling, but also to embrace this new country. His Father Gaetano came to this country via Ellis Island in 1907 and his wife, Rafaella, and daughter, Teresa followed later.
      Albert attended Concrete Grade School and Concrete High School, where he was Student Body President, and played sports, most notably football, when leather pads and helmets were the norm. He was a tough little Italian. Short in stature, perhaps, but he made up for that in strength of mind and body. He graduated with the class of 1932. During his high school years, Albert met Harriette Larsen, a little girl from Van Horn, a town just three miles east of Concrete. She was the daughter of a Danish pioneer family. She left town after graduation to work, and became engaged to another young fellow. Well, to shorten the story, this enraged Albert. He went to get her and bring her back. She often tells the story of their "wedding" at the courthouse in Mt. Vernon on August 7th, 1937. His Mother and sister came along as witnesses.
      Harriette says that "stereotypical Italian Mama" fixed her with that stern stare as if to say "You be good to my boy." Harriette got the drift. And, moments after the "ceremony" they came home to Concrete, and Albert went to work for the rest of the day. A honeymoon? Unheard of. There was work to do. And work, she did. Throughout her life, Harriette has been his "one-man cheering squad," and they worked side by side for 57 years.
      Albert went to work in the woods after graduation. Logging or the Cement Plant were about the only options for a Concrete boy. In 1948, he purchased Van Horn Service, a little store and gas station in Van Horn. Two sons were born to them, Richard, and then Michael, two years later. He ran the store while Harriette had two little boys at home, just down the road from the store, where they have resided for all these years. Soon, the boys were old enough to go along, and she joined him at work in the store, "for just a while." Well, she is still working at age 91, but she doesn't go as early as she used to.
      Albert and Harriette had a strict work ethic. The family rule was, and still is: "If you are not in the Hospital, or dead, you go to work." You could set your clock by his schedule. He did everything every day at the same time, the same day of the week, etc. He was a "clock-watcher" and collected clocks as well. He liked to repair them too. In 1959, he built a new store west of Concrete, at the current location of Albert's Red Apple Market. Over the years the building was rebuilt and several times remodeled. It began as Serve-U, then Family Grocer, and is now a Red Apple Market.
      Albert was a long-time member of Associated Grocers. He knew all the children in town, and took great delight in seeing them daily. Many of those same children were in the groups that walked down to the store from school to celebrate his 90th birthday. Albert was a member of the Concrete Eagles and the Concrete Fire Department. He was also a Fire Commissioner, and helped to organize Fire District 10, which is Grassmere and Birdsview Fire Departments.
      Somehow, in the early days, he actually took time off from the store to coach his son's Little League baseball team, with his nephew, Armond Bianchini. He also coached the town basketball team, the "Nighthawks," from1948-1951. Dave Wright, an old friend, and employee, remembers being on that team, and also that they won the championship in 1948 and 1949. Albert loved his little town beyond reason, and was always supportive of community and school activities- anything for the kids.
      Albert loved his family unconditionally. He had always wanted a little girl, and when his granddaughters were born, he was ecstatic. Not that all those boys weren't welcome. He had four grandsons and they were all taller than he was by the time they were twelve. He helped raise them at the store, and wheeled them around in a grocery cart. They worked for him at the store during their school years, and learned the "hard work" ethic that became the family legacy early on. Sometimes, things didn't go just right in the city, and his girls would come home to tell "Papa." Even when they were grown, they would sit on his lap to tell him of the trouble, and he would say "Just move home. I will take care of you." And partly because of the family legacy, they all squared their shoulders and moved on, after his example, because that is what we do.
      He was so proud of their successes. He was a "softie" and they all knew it. It became tradition — he bought the first dance dress for the girls, and for most of them, their first car. And college tuition help was not out of the realm. He was the most generous person to his family. Part Santa Claus, part "Daddy Warbucks," and he loved doing it. He never needed anything for himself, and said often that the true measure of a man was what he earned for his family. Albert earned his by sheer will, determination, and hard work-12 hour days, seven days a week. He has never had a vacation.
      It is not often that a family works together and all live on the same street. Mike came back to the store after he and Vicki were married 41 years ago. Richard retired from teaching in 1985 and he and Andrea joined them in the "Family Compound" on Moen Road. The "boys" took over the store, and allowed Albert and Harriette to come to work. Sometimes that wasn't the easiest thing to do, and not on anyone's part.
      Albert left Albert's Red Apple on the night of September 27th, never to return. These last three months have been difficult for this family. Albert wanted his life to end at home, and we honored that wish. Richard and Mike have been the most devoted of sons. Their tender care of their father has been wonderful to see. They have done it all for him, and gladly. The family extends a heartfelt thank-you to the "Visiting Angels," especially Fritzi, P.J., and Barb, the "regulars." Also to Skagit Hospice, and everyone that visited, inquired and helped us through this time. We couldn't have done it without you
      Albert is survived by his devoted wife of 70 years, Harriette; two sons, Richard and his wife Andrea, and Michael and his wife Vicki; six grandchildren, Richard D. Frank, Patrick Olsen, Dianne Aamot and her husband Doug, Michael W. Frank and his wife Kimberly, Danielle Frank and Joseph Albert Frank. He has seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters Amelia and Teresa; brothers, Patrick and his beloved Adolph, and a much loved nephew, Armond Bianchini. How many times we have watched the nightly ritual: The little man flips the light switches, goes to the outside door and watches all of the employees exit, locks the door and turns the "open" signs over — Albert's Red Apple is officially closed. Rest in Peace, Dad. You've earned it.
      Graveside Services will be held at the Forest Park Cemetery in Concrete on Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 1:00 PM with Pastor Marcus Stroud of Shepherd of The Hills Lutheran Church officiating. A fellowship will follow at the C.C.D. Center in Concrete. Memorials are suggested to the Albert Frank Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Summit Bank in Concrete.

(Fritsch Brothers hardware)
Fritsch Brothers hardware store, old Woolley, northwest corner of Woodworth at Metcalf

Joe Fritsch, Sauk and Sedro-Woolley
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, April 14, 1938
      Joseph Fritsch, retired businessman of this city and one of the earliest pioneers, died suddenly on Tuesday morning while visiting neighbors near his home on the Old [F&S] Grade road. He was 73. Funeral services are to be held in St. Mary's Catholic church at 10 o'clock on Monday morning with the Rev. Father M. Murtaugh in charge and burial will be in the Union cemetery under direction of Lemley Mortuary.
      Mr. Fritsch, who was born in Germany in November 1864, came to the United States with parents at the age of six. The family settled in Texas, remaining there for several years. They came to Washington when the state was still a territory and made their home at Sauk. Then in 1888, Joseph Fritsch entered the hardware and furniture business in Sedro-Woolley with his brother Frank. Their big store was one of the chief trading centers in the county for many years and is still in operation, known now as Skagit Hardware [owned by Ernest Gruver].
      Mr. Fritsch was married on July 11, 1898, to Effie May Philips, who died in 1931. Surviving are three daughters, Mrs. Hal (Theresa) Snow and Mrs. Warren (Mildred) Hamilton of this city, and Mrs. C.B. (Lucille) Bailey of Seattle; four sons, George, Charles and Emerson Fritsch of this city and Edward Fritsch of Yakima, and ten grandchildren. Mr. Fritsch also leaves five sisters, Mrs. Joe Doucette, Mrs. John Suess and Mrs. Mary Fritsch of this city, Mrs. Will Swank, Burlington, Mrs. Richard Bohn, Everson, and two brothers, Frank Fritsch of this city, and William, who is mining in Alaska.
      Ed. note: We hope that a reader can help us with this complex story about the German immigrant family who tried Texas on for size first but moved to old Sauk City in the mid-1880s. After fires and floods, Frank Fritsch the elder moved to Burlington where he owned stores and the old Burlington Hotel. And his sons, including Joe, became the most famous hardware men in Sedro and Woolley in the very early days.

Roland Henry "Rollie" Gaines, Sedro-Woolley
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, May 28, 2003
      Roland Henry "Rollie" Gaines, 86, a longtime Sedro-Woolley resident, passed away Tuesday, May 20, 2003, at the Sehome Park Care Center in Bellingham. He was born Aug. 22, 1916, in Blackduck, Minnesota, the oldest of 12 children of James and Gwendolyn (Feenendahl) Gaines.
      Rollie was raised and attended school in Minnesota until 17, leaving there and coming to Everett by "riding the rails." He then went to Los Angeles to aircraft mechanic school and worked as an airplane mechanic in San Diego and in Seattle for Boeing. He was united in marriage to Mildred Pillsbury Aug. 14, 1942, in Everett.
      After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II he returned to Everett where he worked for the Scott Paper Co. He later owned a sawmill near Oso and in 1956 moved to Sedro-Woolley to assume ownership of the Sedro-Woolley Bowling Center, later called Fairweather Lanes.
      Rollie was a successful and well liked businessman in Sedro-Woolley for over 25 years. During that time he expanded the bowling center from four to ten lanes. He was inducted into the Skagit Valley Bowling Hall of Fame and after retiring in 1979 continued his love of bowling while developing his fondness for a daily round of golf.
      He was active in community affairs, serving as president of the Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce and holding membership in the American Legion and Fraternal Order of Eagles. Friends and family will especially miss well-developed sense of humor and ready willingness to help others.
      Rollie was preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Gwendolyn; two brothers, Jim and Ted, and four sisters, Lorena, Clara, Blanche and Betty. He is survived by his wife of nearly 61 years, Moldred at the family home in Sedro-Woolley; two daughters, Lynn Metcalf of Port Orchard and Kathie Westerfield of La Quinta, California; two sons, Steven Gaines and his wife Laurice of Alger and David Gaines of Sedro-Woolley; seven grandchildren, Cinda Metcalf of Sedro-Woolley, Susan Slotemaker and husband Derek, Scott Metcalf and wife Kim, and Andrea Lemos and husband Ryan, all of Burlington, Mellissa Gaines and Chip Westerfield of Bellingham and Sean Westerfield and wife Karin of Everett; two brothers, Al Gaines of Everett and Gary Gaines and wife Marge of Marysville; one sister, Jean Brady and husband Ken of Woodinville; five great-grandchildren and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
      Special thanks are extended by the family to the staff of Sehome Care Park Center in Bellingham for their excellent and dedicated service over the past year and a half. Memorial services are at 3 p.m., May 31, at Lemley Chapel in Sedro-Woolley, officiated by Rev. Mark Gaines. A life celebration and fellowship will follow at the Sedro-Woolley Eagles Hall. Cremation and services under direction of Lemley Chapel, Sedro-Woolley.
      Ed. note: I set pins at the bowling alley for Rollie in the late 1950s and those of us in that group remember him fondly and how much fun it was to lean this way and that to avoid flying pins. When Rollie first took over the business, it occupied less than half of the center of the old Schneider's mercantile that was rebuilt on the west side of the 600 block of Metcalf after a 1914 fire. He eventually installed semi-automatic pinsetting machines, the kind that we worked with, and then automated the system. Unfortunately, the bowling alley closed three years ago, one of many in small towns across the U.S. On a historical note, Sedro-Woolley had the first bowling alley in the county, located in a wooden building on the south side of State street near Metcalf. The late Pappy Splane, quite a bowler in his days, remembers bowling there on State street, then in an alley on Ferry street. In 1962, Chuck Plummer Sr. rolled the first certified 300 game at Rollie's alleys.

Gustav Gilbertson, Sedro-Woolley
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, May 3, 1956
      Services will be held at 2 p.m. this afternoon for Gustav Gilbertson, former mayor and founder of the J.C. Penney store here, who died on Sunday. Gilbertson was born April 21, 1878, in Oadness, Norway. He came here in 1915.
      He was the former owner of a local lumber mill and the present owner of Gateway Hotel. Mr. Gilbertson was a member of the Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias lodges in Sedro-Woolley. He died in Matthews General Hospital in Burlington following a stroke last week. Services will be held in the Lemley Mortuary Chapel. The Rev. W.V. Kemonan, pastor of the Assembly of God church, will be in charge.
      Gilbertson is survived by his wife, Clara, a son, Clifford, a daughter, Gladys Huyge, all of Sedro-Woolley. In addition, five stepchildren, two sisters, Cecia Armstrong, Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Gunda Larson, Spokane.
      Ed. note: Oddly this obituary does not mention that Gust once owned the Hardwood Products mill between the east-west railroad tracks and Skagit Steel, where P.A. Woolley's mills originally stood. See our new profile of Gust and a link there for a biography of J.C. Penney, Gust's early employer.

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