Family members of Sequim pioneer Thomas “Bill” Fatherson feel a sense of comfort knowing their father is reunited with his wife Nina, the love of his life.
Fatherson, whom his family remembers as a devoted husband, father and community member, died in his Sequim home on May 10 at the age of 92.
The 1999 Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year, Fatherson spent his retirement working with his wife at the Sequim Food Bank, where Nina served as director/coordinator for 28 years.
“He was dedicated to mom,” Fatherson’s daughter Debbie McGregor said. “I’ve never seen an unconditional love like dad had for mom. He truly lived for mom.”
Family members said Bill met Nina Parker on a blind date, and that he said he immediately he was going to marry her.
Three months later they did, on June 6, 1948, in Port Angeles.
They were married 70 years until Nina’s passing on June 24, 2017. She was 85.
The Fathersons have three children — Peggy, Debbie and James — along with six grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Bill Fatherson worked 27 years with the Clallam County Road Department as an equipment operator. He started as a truck driver, McGregor said, and moved up to the loader, which he loved along with his many friends on the crew.
After Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, he went with a small crew there to load ash, she said.
While working and after retirement, Bill supported Nina’s efforts at the Sequim Food Bank.
“The food bank meant so much to my mom,” McGregor said. “Dad loved being with my mom, so he volunteered.”
He would haul food in his own truck until the food bank received its own truck.
Tom Baermann, who helped start the food bank in his garage in 1981 on Govan Avenue, said the Fathersons were dedicated volunteers, and Nina eventually became its coordinator/executive director, which was mostly a volunteer position during her tenure.
The Fathersons led the transition of the food bank to larger spaces from Baermann’s garage to an old chicken coop/storage space at Faith Lutheran Church and then to the current facility at 144 W. Alder St.
Prior to her retirement from the food bank, food bank leaders named the main building after the Fatherson in October 2009.
Stephen Rosales, Sequim Food Bank past board president, said they were “a dynamic couple.”
“They really made Sequim a better place because of their hard work for the less fortunate,” he said. “The food bank is a testament to their many years of devotion to the people of Sequim. That’s why we named the building after them.”
More on Bill
Fatherson was born in Sequim Nov. 15, 1926, to Tom and Esther Fatherson.
McGregor said Fatherson’s mother’s parents owned Dungeness Meadows and sold the property, then purchased property on Silberhorn Road.
At age 16, Fatherson moved to Alaska to work on an U.S. Army transport ship as a cook for one year. He later joined the Army and spent more than a year on the island of Kyushu in Japan as a military policeman in Company D, 35th infantry Division.
Family members say when he moved back home he went to Seattle to work for Boeing but preferred the small town life, so he moved back to Sequim and became a logger, which he loved.
Some of his other accomplishments and groups included becoming an Eagle Scout, being a life member of the Sequim Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4760, and serving as a Grand Pioneer for the Sequim Irrigation Festival.
McGregor said she and her dad made a daily tradition of going to Reddog Coffee Co. in Sequim for a mocha with him, and that he would share a Sequim history lesson along the way — including he and Nina’s old parking spots.
Family and friends held a graveside service on May 23 at Sequim View Cemetery for Fatherson. As a request for his memorial, he requests families go out to dinner and celebrate life together.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.