Frederick E. "Rick" Washburn once told a friend that dying on his fishing boat in Alaska was as good a way to go as any.
That made the 72-year-old Sequim resident's sudden death from a medical condition June 8 on his fishing boat Allman Joy about 67 miles southeast of Sitka, Alaska, a little easier for his loved ones.
"He definitely did what he loved and that was the way he wanted to go. That was his love, which makes it a little bit easier to accept," said his daughter Joni Pankowski of Port Angeles.
Her father developed his love of Alaskan fishing in his early teens when he went to Ketchikan with his brother, she said.
Washburn was born in Port Gamble and grew up in Poulsbo. He lived in the Joyce area and on Blue Mountain Road before moving to Keeler Road in February 1999.
He ran the asphalt plants for Jon Shotwell, Ace Paving and Lakeside Industries and also worked on Foss tugboats.
Washburn retired at 55 and bought the Allman Joy for commercial fishing in southeast Alaska, which he did from April to September every year for the next 17 years. He held permits for
salmon and halibut fishing.
Pankowski said she got to see why he liked it so much one year when she flew up to Ketchikan and sailed to Port Angeles with him on the boat.
He always looked for
people to accompany him north in April, but she didn't trust Alaska's weather at that time of year, Pankowski said.
During that trip, Washburn stopped to tow a stalled boat into a harbor, which turned a four-hour segment of the journey into an eight-hour one.
"He was always willing to help anyone who needed it," Pankowski said. One person who did take up Washburn's offer to accompany him north was Keith Sharkey of Port Angeles.
The two met at the Port Angeles Gun Club. Sharkey was interested in fishing but never had been to Alaska.
So in April 2006, he spent 16 days with Washburn on his boat traveling to Alaska, then flew back to Seattle.
Although it was described in press reports as a 36-footer, the Allman Joy actually was only 27 feet, which some-
times made for an interesting trip, Sharkey said.
The commercial fishing was supposed to supplement his retirement income, but Washburn did it because he loved the fishing - the money was secondary, Sharkey said.
"He was a happy go lucky, good-hearted soul who made his living with his hands. He was easy going and likable, with a good sense of humor," Sharkey said.
"We talked about the dangers and risks of being alone on the boat. He willingly accepted those risks and said, 'It's as good a way to go as any.'"
"Although those of us who knew him are saddened by his passing, we know he died doing what he loved," Sharkey said.
Washburn's survivors include Cynthia (Cindi) Christman of Port Orchard, Randall (Randy) Washburn of Port Angeles, Jolene (Jodi) Washburn of Poulsbo, Joni Pankowski of Port Angeles and Shelly Nordstrom of Poulsbo as well as 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Reach Brian Gawley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A memorial service for Frederick "Rick" Washburn is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, June 21, at John Wayne Marina, 2577 West Sequim Bay Road in Sequim.
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