Charles Nash, former port commissioner and postmaster, dies; visitation is March 25 at St. Francis Church

The National Archives has this photo of Charles Nash in its collection, taken when he was postmaster in August 1972.
The National Archives has this photo of Charles Nash in its collection, taken when he was postmaster in August 1972. 'Mr. Charles Nash, postmaster of Friday Harbor, is leading a fight to block the building of a major condominium,' the caption states.
— image credit: Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division, National Archives

Former port commissioner and postmaster Charles Nash died March 17 at R House Adult Family Home in Friday Harbor. He was 88.

Visitation is March 25, 5-7 p.m., at St. Francis Church, 425 Price St., Friday Harbor. Rosary will be recited at 7 p.m.

Funeral is March 26, 1 p.m. at St. Francis.

Mr. Nash served on the port commission from 1974-2001 — longer than any other commissioner in the Friday Harbor Port District's history. He was also a long-time commercial fisherman and started a survey of the local eagle population.

Marilyn O'Connor, executive director of the Friday Harbor Port District, said the port commission will consider a resolution honoring Mr. Nash at its March 24 meeting, 4 p.m., at the San Juan Island Yacht Club.

"During his tenure, the port district grew from having no waterfront to Friday Harbor Marina, Spring Street Landing and Jackson's Beach. And Friday Harbor Airport was purchased and developed during that time," O'Connor said. "He oversaw and participated in the overall development of the port."

Mr. Nash also had a bright sense of humor and was enjoyable to work with. "He was a great guy," O'Connor said.

Historian Mike Vouri said that Mr. Nash, in his public and private work on behalf of the community, followed "the island way," the example set by his Maine-born grandfather and others who came to the island in the 1800s and built the modern community.

"This is the way people worked. They were very community minded," said Vouri, author of "Friday Harbor" and three other local history books. "His grandfather, Elijah Hamlin Nash, and Bert Coffin leased the Argyle Store in 1893. While working in the store, E.H. Nash served as a justice of the peace and went on to become a state legislator and mayor of Friday Harbor. Their ethic was, you have a stake in the community, you get involved in the community. You work for the common good. This is the kind of life that built our community and made it what it is today."

While Mr. Nash never served on the Town Council, there was a family member — grandfather, father, uncle, brother — in Town Hall for 53 years between 1912 and 1992.

Longtime Port Commissioner Greg Hertel said Mr. Nash was always enjoyable to work with, was quiet about his work, and never wanted to be commission president but wanted to contribute as a commissioner.

"His wealth of knowledge ... he sure knew his stuff," Hertel said. "Charlie's focus was on the marina side. He felt it served two functions — he wanted a place for the fishing fleet while it was active, and he felt the other mission was to attract boaters, to accommodate them and encourage them to bring their business to Friday Harbor."

Journal columnist Howard Schonberger said Mr. Nash was "one of the sweetest guys I've ever known."

"He was an efficient and courteous postmaster, beloved by all his staff and patrons. He was a lover of birds who conducted the annual eagle population count by flying his plane around the islands with others who checked the number of nests and eaglets each year.

"One of my fondest memories was his Lions Club visitation trips over to the Sussex, B.C. Lions Club Limerick Night, when all of those attending recited original — often ribald — limericks in contest after a riotous night of dining and good cheer. Since he was the pilot of the huge boat which fished Bristol Bay in Alaska for many years, he had to be designated driver as well as host getting us through Customs coming and going."

Mr. Nash's survivors include his wife, Betty; sons, Kelly, Nick and Pat; daughter, Lisa Lawrence; brother, Albert; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.

An obituary is being written by the family. Arrangements are being made by Evans Funeral Home and Chapel.

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