Obituaries — Aug. 28, 2019

June Rae Pope

June Rae Pope of Quilcene died of age-related causes in Sequim on Aug. 19, 2019, at age 95.

She was born Feb. 15, 1924.

The family has scheduled private services.

Sign a guestbook for the family at

Helen Mary McCammon

August 16, 1933 – August 13, 2019

Helen Mary McCammon, age 85, of Sequim, died from natural causes at home surrounded by family, on Tuesday, August 13, 2019.

She was born on August 16, 1933, to Joseph and Mary Zaborniak, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. At an early age, she spent a great deal of time reading at home and in the library, and during the spring and summer investigating streams for the different organisms she could find.

In school, she was slightly above average but worked hard to be near the top of her class. After seventh grade, she left the local school and went to one in another school district that offered both Latin as well as French. She always elected the most rigorous courses because she regarded them as a challenge.

During her high school years, she went through the vocational files of the library and based upon her ability and likes decided to be a geologist. Before entering University, she visited the geology department and was told to enter the rigorous honors program lasting five years; including one year of engineering and advanced courses in chemistry. During her time at the university, she spent all available spare time working part time in the geology division of the Manitoba Mines Branch.

After graduating from the University of Manitoba in 1955, she was accepted for graduate school at the University of Michigan. Her masters thesis was based on the fossil material she brought from the Mines Branch. She met her future husband at Michigan. They both held assistantships at the Museum of Paleontology. They were married at the end of the summer after he came back from field work in the southwest U.S. and she came back from fossil collecting in Manitoba. She changed her last name to McCammon.

They moved to Indiana where they both began working on their PhD degrees. She completed her field work one week before their daughter, Catherine, was born, in the fall of the following year. Her dissertation was on the fossils of the Manitoba limestone. It was published by the Mines Branch shortly after she submitted it.

Following graduation, they moved to Chicago where her husband got a post-doctoral fellowship in the fall of 1959 at the University of Chicago. Their son, Ian, was born in March of 1960. In September, 1960, the family moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where her husband was offered a position in the Geology Department, and she was asked to lecture in physical geography in the Geography Department.

In the summer of 1961, they moved to Pittsburgh where her husband was offered a position at Gulf Research and Development Corporation, and within a few years, she was offered an Assistant Professor position at the University of Pittsburgh.

She was eager to start research on recent brachiopods to better understand their living habits in the geologic past. A proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Antarctic Research Program resulted in a grant to collect brachiopods from their research ship in the antarctic. Subsequently, she was awarded a new NSF grant to join the ship in New Zealand to collect brachiopods at various localities in the Tasman Sea. In May, 1968, she received tenure and an Associate Professorship.

In the fall of 1968, the family moved again to Chicago where her husband was offered an Associate Professorship and she was offered a Visiting Associate Professorship in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle.

With the freezing of NSF funds and cutbacks in studies of modern brachiopods, it was time to reevaluate doing the research and to look into the funding of research.

In 1972, Helen accepted the position of Research Representative, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 1, Boston, Massachusetts. From 1973-1977, she served as Director, Office of Research Programs, EPA, Region 1, Boston, MA. In 1976, she moved to the Washington, D.C. area, and joined the Department of Energy (DOE) in Germantown, Maryland.

In 1979, she rose to Director, Ecological Research Division, DOE, Germantown. By virtue of her contributions to the furtherance of science education and research, she was elected an Honorary Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in January, 1982.

In 1991-1992, Helen participated as a Fellow in the Commerce Science and Technology Fellowship Program as part of a unique effort to develop expertise among career federal employees in the management of science and technology issues, and in related questions of international competitiveness. Her assignment was in the Office of Management and Budget; and Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President.

During her tenure, she helped evaluate and justify the crosscut budgets, primarily the mathematics and science education crosscut. She also developed an Executive Order for the President’s signature on math and science education.

In 1995, she retired from the federal government and was joined by her husband, in 1998, and moved to Sequim, where they began their new life of travel and leisure activities.

Helen’s interest in gardening led her to become a Master Gardner as part of the Clallam County Master Gardeners. It wasn’t long before she was asked to join the Board of the Master Gardener Foundation.

During her tenure, a proposal under consideration was to sell the Demo Garden on Woodcock and use the money from the sale to support the creation of a Garden in the city of Sequim. To this end, she undertook the preparation of the history of the Woodcock Garden for the Board to better understand the pros and cons of such a sale. As it turned out, the sale of the Woodcock Garden was put on hold and the property continues in its present form today. Having the history of the Garden in hand however, allowed the emotional concerns of such a sale to be lessened over time.

Closer to home, Helen took an interest in a proposed project to the County Commissioners to widen Kitchen-Dick Road from Old Olympic Highway to the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge to make it safer for hikers and cyclists. To this end, she went door-to-door getting the signatures of over 40 homeowners in support of the project and submitted the petition at a subsequent meeting of the Commissioners. The project was finally approved and the project completed into the Road as it exists today. One of the Commissioners told Helen that without the support of the Community, the project might not have gone forward.

Another contribution of Helen’s to the Master Gardeners were the workshops she gave on how to make natural looking planters from discarded polystyrene coolers. Making natural looking planters from hypertufa troughs was often messy and they were too heavy to move once they were made. The use of discarded polystyrene coolers received a warm welcome by the Master Gardeners who attended her workshops.

From her perspective of having been involved in environmental issues at the Department of Energy, Helen was a strong supporter of Eloise Kailin, M.D. who was a tenacious advocate of eliminating fluoride from the municipal water supply of Port Angeles.

To this end, Helen submitted a letter to the Editor of the Peninsula Daily News about the report by the National Academy of Sciences that recognized that children have three to four times the rate of exposure of fluoride, as do people that drink a lot of water. In addition, fluoride accumulates in the body over time and effects may not be evident till years later. The report cited major needs in assessing risks of toxic side effects of fluoride including thyroid function and hip fractures. In December, 2017, the Port Angeles City Council voted to keep fluoride out of the municipal water supply and to remove fluoridation equipment.

Helen is survived by her husband, Richard; daughter, Catherine; son, Ian; son-in-law, Richard Howes; daughter-in-law, Judy Fahys; and grandson, Nicholas Howes.

She will be missed by all who knew her. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to your favorite charity.

Richard H. Bekkevar

April 21, 1923 – August 17, 2019

Pioneer Richard (Dick) Huffman Bekkevar passed away at the age of 96, at home with his family, from dementia on August 17, 2019. Dick, born on April 21, 1923, was the third of four children born to Olaf and Anna Bekkevar.

Dick met Winona Lotzgesell (also from a pioneer family), at a dance at the Fairview Grange Hall and they married June 16, 1946; they danced whenever they could through 73 years of marriage.

With the exception of his time served in the Merchant Marines during World War II, and traveling for work on construction jobs, he resided his entire life on the family farm on Highway 101, east of Blyn, formerly known as Little Michigan Settlement.

Dick had a very interesting life having lived through the Depression, Prohibition, and World War II. He told many stories about them and was a wealth of knowledge on the history of the area. He attended Little Michigan school until the 9th grade and graduated from Sequim High School, class of 1941, of which he was the last known classmate to survive.

He told about starting school in Sequim and while waiting for the school bus, they would draw a circle in the middle of Highway 101 and shoot marbles; if a car came, they would get up, wait until it passed, then resume the game. He played football in high school and they were undefeated his senior year; he was also active in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and the wrestling team. During his senior year in high school, Dick drove school bus; he picked up kids in the area, parked the bus, went to class with everyone, drove them home each afternoon, then parked the bus at home each night to do it again the next day.

Dick served in the Merchant Marines in the Pacific during World War II and saw action in the South Pacific serving on both Liberty and Victory ships.

In 1950 he joined the Union of Operating Engineers Local 302, to operate the pioneer CAT that started construction of the road to Hurricane Ridge; being the first person up there on a bulldozer, he told stories of sliding sideways, downhill, on the rock, building a road so others could follow. He said many men walked off the hill when the fog cleared in the mornings and they would see how far down it was to the bottom; they thought he was crazy and he said, “they had no guts for being scared.”

He worked on construction jobs, operating heavy equipment, until 1977 when he started Bekkevar Well Drilling. He continued that business until the year 2000 at the age of 77.

He was very active in the Sequim Masonic Lodge #213, of which he was Master, in 1959 and 2002, and Right Worship Master of the Olympic Peninsula Lodge of Past Masters in 1960.

Dick was a charter member of Sequim Elks Lodge 2642; he was the third person to be Exalted Ruler and was very instrumental in purchasing land and building the current lodge. He donated his time and materials drilling the well for the Elks Lodge and the Dungeness Schoolhouse.

He was also active in the Grange serving as Master of Rhododendron, Sequim Prairie, Jefferson County Pomona, and Deputy of the State Grange Master for Jefferson County for 15 years; he led the installation team for many years thereafter. He was an excellent ritualist in all three organizations. Dick and Winona were Grand Pioneers of the Sequim Irrigation Festival in 2003.

Dick and Winona enjoyed traveling and visited many places in the United States with friends or the Travelks; they visited his family’s homeland of Norway and also toured New Zealand and Australia.

One thing people said that was unique about Dick was his strength and his ability to buck hay bales with a pitchfork, putting them up on top of a load of hay, even in his 50’s.

He was preceded in death by his siblings, Elida Smith, Laura Bekkevar, and Sue Dolan; a son, Richard Leroy Bekkevar; and daughter, Loretta Grant.

He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Winona; daughters and sons, Chris Baker, Aleta (Mark) Smith, Dave (Trish) Bekkevar, Dorinda (Jeff) Becker, Jim (Andrea) Bekkevar, and son-in-law Fred Grant, all of Sequim; also, 14 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, and 15 great-great-grandchildren.

He loved his family, the farm, and his pioneer heritage and was proud of all of them. He loved to work and this was instilled in his children; he said, “if you wanted something, with hard work and perseverance you can make it happen.”

The family would like to thank Hospice and give special thanks to caregiver, Andrea Chandler; she was an angel taking caring of Dad in his last days.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice.

Services will be held Saturday, September 7th, 11:00 AM, at the Sequim Masonic Lodge (5th and Pine, in Sequim); refreshments to follow.