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Community ‘gem’ Wallie Funk to be honored by Island County Museum

Wallie Funk will be honored at a dinner on Oct. 22 for his work for the Island County Museum and the community. - --
Wallie Funk will be honored at a dinner on Oct. 22 for his work for the Island County Museum and the community.
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History has a home in Island County thanks to Wallie Funk. The Island County Museum will honor Funk with a dinner on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge.

The dinner benefits Island County Museum, which Funk has always strongly advocated.

Funk was a prime mover in the fundraising campaign to have the museum built in the late 1980s. He raised more than $100,000.

“He literally spent hours and hours on the phone getting support,” said Island County Museum Director Rick Castellano.

Now, at nearly 90 years of age, Funk is still going strong as he advocates for Island and Skagit County museums and other community treasures.

“Wallie’s never slowed down,” Castellano said.

Funk says his interest in keeping history alive will never grow old.

“I’ve always been interested in things I think are important to the human race,” Funk said, naming art and history.

The former co-owner of the Whidbey News-Times and the Anacortes American helped the Whidbey Playhouse and the Navy League get up and running, as well as the Anacortes Museum and the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner.

Now, he’s working to fund a marine education program in Anacortes, where he lives. He was recently named to the University of Washington Communications School Hall of Fame.

“Wallie’s a gem of a community leader,” Castellano said, adding that it’s about time Funk is recognized for all he’s done for the museum and the community.

“Plus, he’s one of the nicest people I’ve come across,” Castellano said.

Castellano and Funk have known each other for nearly five years.

“It’s so fortunate to have someone of his caliber at the head of the museum,” Funk said about Castellano.

“He’s just one of those people you feel like you’ve known a long time,” Castellano said, returning the compliment.

One way Castellano got to know Funk is through his sizable photo collection at the museum. He donated many of the news photos he took as a reporter and world traveler.

“He has a very artistic eye. You could frame them and put them on the wall as art,” Castellano said. His favorites are of one of the first Coupeville  Arts and Crafts Festivals, at which Funk shot photos of people in the crowd wearing headbands and strumming guitars.

“And you’re right back there in that era. He has a good eye for what needs to be historically recorded,” Castellano said.

Funk also photographed the Beatles backstage when they were in Seattle, Navy moments, cattle round-ups and life in Coupeville and Oak Harbor.

His photos are spread throughout the Island County Museum, museums in Anacortes and La Conner and Western Washington University.

View a slideshow of his work at the dinner.

Tickets to the dinner cost $50 and are available by calling 678-3310 or at the Island County Museum in Coupeville.

“It’ll be a very interesting evening and I know it’ll let me see some old friends,” Funk said.

“He’s an excellent example of a real solid community booster. It doesn’t matter what community he’s in, he’s always there making it better and keeping the arts and history alive. He’s just a great guy. I’m very honored to know Wallie,” Castellano said.

 

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