In memoriam

In 2016, people who passed away were bid a fond farewell by their loved ones in south Pierce County. Gone but not forgotten by the families and friends they left behind, their lives are capsulized in the following short summaries of their obituaries that appeared in The Dispatch.


Arvilla Biggs

The Eatonville native worked as a telephone operator and, after retiring, became involved in WICS (Widowed Information and Consultation Service). Age 87.


Betty Backstrom

A resident of Roy, she graduted from Bethel School, participated in 4-H, and was manager of the Pierce County Fair for 32 years and helped run Lacamas Community Fair for 40 years. Age 78.


Delores Jean (Jones) Malcom

Born in Minnesota, she moved as a child to Eatonville, where she eventually met her husband, Keith Malcom. In the early 1960s, they built Malcom’s Shop-Rite, the first of their many businesses in Eatonville. Age 84.


Derek Lee Harris

He’s remembered by family and friends as “loving, kind-hearted and always made everyone around him laugh.” Age 31.


Douglas E. Fox

He was a crew chief for his car-racing son. In lieu of flowers, his family suggested an evening at a local race track “in honor of Doug.” Age 77.


Elizabeth Ann (Dode) Hill

She and her husband, Jack, were married for 70 years. She was a business partner in his business ventures. Age 89.


Elizabeth Ann (Ward) Lane

Age 67. Born and raised in Eatonville, she graduated from Eatonville High School and was a cook for the Eatonville School District for over 25 years. Age 67.


Freida (Jarrells) Christian Blomberg

She and her husband, Buck Christian, ran Copper Creek Lodge in Ashford. She was a 50-year breast cancer survivor and was an Eatonville School District bus driver for 14 years. Age 85.


Dorothy Heath-Hengstler

She and her husband, Clem Heath, were hobby farmers outside of Eatonville. She was one of the earliest members of Tanwax Country Chapel. Age 93.


James “Mike” Buti

He grew up in Eatonville and worked as a logger for 20 years. He and his family were longtime residents of Roy, where he raised cattle and horses.

Age 75.


James L. “Jim” Dean

A Navy veteran, he worked for 30 years for Tacoma Public Utilities, retiring as a project manager for Alder Dam and LaGrande Dam. He and his wife, Carole, were married for 61 years. Age 83.


James Robert Hale

He grew up in Mineral, served with the Navy in World War II and later owned a grocery store, gas station and print shop in Tacoma and a Christmas tree farm in Mineral. Age 98.


Janet Meyer

She graduated from Morton High Schgool, attended an x-ray school in Seattle and worked for 23 years at Madigan Army Medical Center. Age 75.


Jo Ann Crowford

A graduate of Eatonville High School, she worked for the IRS and later at Mount Rainier National Park, her dream job. She owned 500-plus books.


Joan Dorothy DeLaurenti

She lived most of her life in Eatonville and worked as a waitress at the Eatonville Eagles. She lived by her Red Hat motto: “If it ain’t fun, we ain’t doing it.”Age 81.


John Richard Jones

He was born in Eatonville and later lived in Alder. He played drums for several bands, and his favorite music was country western. Age 72.


Madora Jane Dawkins

A longtime Eatonville resident, she attended the University of Washington, worked and performed as an acrobatic dancer at Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier National Park, and once ran a restaurant with her husband on Mountain Highway. Age 97.


Margit Thorvaldson

Starting in 1950, she was a school teacher in the Eatonville School District for 37 years, building a reputation as being tough but fair with students. She visited Norway, her ancestral home, many times, including four times by ship. Age 88.


Melville (Tony) Surface

He and his wife, Libby, raised St. Bernards and lived in Eatonville for many years. Age 81.


Michael Barney

He and his wife of 47 years, Candius, were owners of the former Blue Moon Pub in Eatonville. Age 68.


Muriel Dow Tucon

Born in Eatonville, she grew up on the family farm between Elbe and Mineral. She was a switchboard operator for the former Eatonville Telephone Co. Age 87.


Ray Henricksen

After graduating from Eatonville High School, he worked in the logging, road building and land clearing, owned and operated two convalescent homes in Oregon with his wife of 67 years, Jackie, owned Lynch Creek Quarry in Eatonville, and built Tanwax Greens Golf Course. Age 88.


Robert E. ‘Bob’ Ettlin


He was proud of his Swiss heritage. He graduated valedictorian in 1945 from the former Kapowsin High School, served in the Army, worked at Martinac Shipbuilding as a machinist, superintendent and project manager for 30 years, and lived in Spanaway and Eatonville. Age 87.


Sharon Kay (Johnson) Treadwell

After retiring as a technical writer for the state of Washington, she and her husband, Mike, opened an antiques and woodworking shop. As a child, she traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada to logging shows in which her father competed as “King of the High Climbers.” Age 69.


Travis Wallace

A Missouri native, he was a longtime resident of Eatonville and had seven children and 18 grandchildren. Age 82.


Vernon Neal Purdy

Married to his wife, Olive, for 62 years, they were members of Alder Presbyterian Church, where they remodeled the kitchen. He retired from the City of Tacoma hydroelectric project. Age 98.


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