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Obituaries

2023

Don Beasley, 87, a former commodore of the Corinthian Yacht Club of Bellingham, died November 4, 2023.


Paula Pellegrino, 68, a retired teacher and native of North Cambridge, Mass., who attended kindergarten through high school with Sheehan World publisher Kathy Sheehan, died October 3, 2023. The former Paula Zani had attended the 50th year reunion of the North Cambridge Catholic High School Class of 1973 in June and was enjoying retirement with her family and friends. She went into a hospital in the fall for an operation and didn’t come home.


Jon Martin, 69, a Bellingham sailor who dedicated his life to community service, died August 31, 2023. A bad fall he took less than a year earlier had led to the discovery of a brain cancer. Jon moved from California to Washington as a VISTA volunteer in his adulthood and worked in various weatherization and construction roles for non-profits in Walla Walla and Bellingham for many years before his retirement from the Opportunity Council in Bellingham in 2021. He served as treasurer of the Corinthian Yacht Club of Bellingham from 2019 to 2022 and was well known in Squalicum Harbor where he spent many hours and days working on his Yankee 30 and helping other boaters. Jon was also the main organizer and promoter of the Fairhaven “Doxie Walk,” an annual event for Dachshunds and their owners.


Kathy Cole, the master gardener of Niagara Drive in Bellingham, died June 20, 2023. She went into a hospital for an operation and didn’t come home. Kathy had a lifelong love of learning, engaging in paid and volunteer work and hobbies that let her explore nutrition, bookkeeping, reading, singing, investing and growing fruit, vegetables and flowers on her property on Alabama Hill. She was one of the best neighbors the Sheehan World has known.


Craig Ammerman, the executive editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin when it printed its final edition on Jan. 29, 1982, died Jan. 27, 2023 in Florida. He was 74 and had tried to revive what was once the largest evening newspaper in America. Craig was also a former executive editor at the New York Post, a founder of a health publishing business called Health Ink and an avid golfer. Lou Antosh wrote of his business partner at Health Ink and boss at the Bulletin: “Craig had the down-home ease of a quick-witted but slow-talking southern boy who learned early on the value of relationship building.”


2022

Dave Warren, a leading voice in the Pacific Northwest labor movement who served as president of the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council for more than 25 years, died Dec. 27, 2022. He was 74. A Democrat, he was the longest serving member of the Bellingham Civil Service Commission and a loyal “favorite brother” to all working people, from his brothers and sisters at SEIU in Alaska to the Polish shipyard workers who battled an authoritarian government in the 1980s. A relentless fighter for democracy and justice, he made life better for thousands of workers by promoting fairness and equality on the job. He battled four types of cancer before he succumbed to lung cancer in 2022. The Sheehan World sends his heartfelt sympathy to Charlie, his wife and soulmate, and his extended family.


Gundel Brockhaus, 92, a devout Christian who raised six children with her husband Henrich in The Sheehan World neighborhood of Bellingham, died Dec. 15, 2022. She was a mother, nurse, nanny and teacher to many children. Born in Germany to a Baptist preacher and his wife, she emigrated to Vancouver, BC, Canada, from London in 1955. It was not until 1958, while enrolled at the University of British Columbia, that Gundel met Henrich Brockhaus, her future husband, at Emanuel Baptist Church. It turned out that they both had been working in London at the same time, had come over on the same boat, had been on the same train from Montreal to Vancouver, and had not met! Gundel and Henrich lived in Seattle before moving to Bellingham in 1965. Five years later, they moved into a newly built house on Niagara Drive.


Joanne Hennessey, 63, a one-on-one special educator who fought cancer and the effects of years of smoking, died Nov. 18, 2022. She was related by marriage and a "sister from another mother" to fellow Virgo Kathy Sheehan, publisher of The Sheehan World. A few days before she died, she warned her friends of the dangers of nicotine addition from her hospital bed in New Hampshire, saying she was suffering from COPD and hypertension: "I was a life time smoker and I am paying the price now. I no longer smoke but sometimes you wait too long to come to the obvious realization that you are not immune to the awfulness of bad habits. I am telling you this to perhaps deter anyone from smoking and to ask for prayers. I have been been very sick these last few days and scared for my life."


Gael Brockerman, 75, a businesswoman, world traveler, gardener, hostess, voracious book reader and amazing cook, died March 14, 2022 in Bellingham.


Pat Gillespie Sr., 76, the gregarious, cigar-smoking, golf-playing, retired business manager for the Philadelphia Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, died August 29, 2022. He was a fierce fighter for the working class, serving for more than 30 years as the influential voice of the building trades, a group of hard-working men and women who, his wife Arlene said, “gave Philadelphia its magnificent skyline.” During his long career, he also was chairman of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation; a Pennsylvania state representative from Delaware County; vice president of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO Labor Council; and board member of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Said his longtime friend and golfing partner Jim Martin, Gillespie was one of the region’s most successful and influential labor leaders because “he could will things to happen.” The ruddy-faced Irishman often sparred with Philadelphia Daily News labor reporter Kathy Sheehan, driving her out of his office with a nauseating expelling of cigar smoke. In addition to his wife Arlene, he is survived by four children and 10 grandchildren. (Philadelphia Inquirer obituary; Subscription may be required.)


Floyd McKay, 86, an award-winning print and TV journalist who reported extensively on the Pacific Northwest for four decades and wrote three books, died on March 4, 2022, in Bellingham. He covered politics at The Oregon Statesman (now the Statesman Journal) and worked as a news analyst at KGW-TV in Portland, Oregon. A 1968 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, he helped launch the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and taught journalism at Western Washington University in Bellingham. He retired from WWU in 2004.


2021

Bill Sterling, 68, a Bellingham-area tuba player, bass guitarist, environmentalist and community builder, died Nov. 29, 2021. Bill contributed to the foundation of the River Farm in Van Zandt, where he served as a steward of the land for more than 20 years and established the annual Herbal Faire music festival. The Kulshan Community Land Trust honored him for "Creating Permanently Affordable Homeownership Opportunities," and he was involved in many community projects such as the Whatcom County Seed Swap and the Whatcom Skill Share Faire. In addition to his biologic family, Bill recognized his community as family and generously shared his building skills and warm hugs with all. Among the bands he contributed to were the Critical Mass Marching Band (the original flash mob for music), K-Kats, Brasscadia, What the Chelm, The Clay People, and Patriots of Tomorrow.


Nicole Hurtubise, an amazing vocalist with the Bellingham group, Stirred not Shaken, died July 1, 2021.


Jerry Tegarden, a songwriter, musician and bona fide hippie, died Feb. 1, 2021 in Bellingham. He was 72. Jerry was a friend to Kathy Sheehan and Chuck Dingee and the longtime sweetheart of Rose Nerad.


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