Neil Tarte

Neil A. Tarte

May 28, 1927 — February 24, 2014

Neil A. Tarte, of Roche Harbor, joined his beloved wife Margaret on Monday, Feb. 24, at the age of 86 years.

Neil’s love of life, family, and friends was boundless. Neil’s good nature and gracious Northwest hospitality is intertwined with the lives of the many who visited, lived, and worked at Roche Harbor since its inception as a resort. His home was always open, welcoming all who walked through the door with a smile and… yes, if cocktail hour, a martini.

Neil was born, May 28, 1927, in Seattle to Clara and Reuben Tarte. His love of yachting started at an early age, taking a boat with his sisters Mary Lou and Teresa across Lake Washington from his childhood home on Yarrow Point to the Madison Dock to attend Seattle Prep, and later Seattle University, where he met his late wife of 56 years, Margaret Spane.

At 16, Neil started driving for his father’s business, Transport Storage. This was the beginning of his life-long love of the automobile and of his passion for classic cars. Neil was a member of the Classic Car Club of America, and loved tinkering with his cars and sharing his enjoyment of them with others.

Whether it was representing the Lion’s Club in the Fourth of July Parade in Friday Harbor, taking a grandchild out for ice cream, escorting a bride to church, or taking Margaret out on the town to join friends at the San Juan Yacht Club, he always enjoyed being behind the wheel.

City life was not for Neil. He moved his family to Roche Harbor in 1956 together with his visionary parents, sisters, and brothers-in-law following the purchase of Roche Harbor Lime and Cement Co.

In those formative years of what is now known as Roche Harbor Resort, the Tarte family rolled up its collective sleeves with Neil managing the efforts to transform the company mining town into the most popular yachting destination on the West Coast.

The strong family ties to the Seattle and Columbia River Yacht Clubs soon brought the boats cruising north to stop for provisions, a warm meal, cold beverages, and a gracious welcome. It didn’t take long for Neil’s Seattle friends, looking for a summer weekend retreat, to understand what Neil loved in Roche Harbor, the islands and the beautiful cruising waters that surround it. Before long, many of these guests became part of the extended Tarte family of Roche Harbor, with many of their children on the payroll.

As general manager of the resort, Neil guided the building of the moorage docks, airport, roads, pool, condominiums, guest facilities, and with his brother, Dr. Larry Tarte, the tennis courts. Together with his mother, Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel was consecrated, welcoming all guests.

Neil established the enduring culture of guest service and hospitality at Roche Harbor. His real joy was being host to all who visited the Resort. To Neil, the resort and guests were extensions of his home and family.

Neil was most comfortable walking the docks, greeting each guest by name, telling one of his many stories, and enjoying the sunset to the lowering of the flags during the Colors Ceremony which, although initiated by his father, Neil made the enduring tradition that still marks the end of another beautiful day at the place he loved more than words can express.

Neil is survived by his children and their spouses: Sally and Scott Cramer, Georgi and Tom Schuman, Janine and Bob Wells, Neil J. and Janine Tarte, Nancy and Jonathan Rodriguez-Atkatz, Tom and Karie Tarte, Jim and Robin Tarte, 16 grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, and his sisters, MaryLou Halvorson and Teresa Tangney Kennedy.

Services were held in Roche Harbor on Saturday, March 1.

Remembrances can be made to Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel, PO Box 4335 Roche Harbor, WA 98250. You may share memories of Neil in the online guestbook at

— Family of Neil Tarte