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Wallie Funk celebrates 90th birthday
By Steven Berentson
Special to the News-Times
How appropriate that retired newspaperman Wallie Funk was asked to share the stage last Sunday when friends and family gathered to help him celebrate his 90th birthday.
Funk, co-publisher and editor of the Whidbey News-Times and Whidbey Record for three decades, was a powerful force as reporter, columnist and editorial writer. But he was beloved for his photography -– from naval aviators and Dutch dancers to rock stars and U.S. presidents.
Hundreds of Funk’s photos were on display at his birthday celebration, sharing the spotlight as he was honored by the community of Anacortes Sunday, April 29.
Sons Mark and Carl, both Oak Harbor High School graduates, were on hand with families for the tribute to their father. Another Oak Harbor grad on hand was Jayne Mardesich, daughter of Funk’s publishing partner, the late John Webber.
Funk, who retired to his hometown of Anacortes shortly after selling his Whidbey newspapers, finally shelved the Nikon camera that was his constant companion during his newspaper years. That did not mean, however, that he was finished making an impact in Oak Harbor and Anacortes.
Also among those in the birthday celebration crowd were former Oak Harbor Mayor Al Koetje and Island County Museum Director Rick Costellano. Funk donated part of his photo collection to the Coupeville museum, and he continues to make regular visits to Whidbey Island.
Following a brief biographical presentation by history book co-author Theresa Trebon, Funk the “community activist and philanthropist” was acknowledged for contributions to area museums, theaters and schools, including the 2011-12 raising of $101,000 for a scholarship fund for the Northwest Career & Technical Academy Marine Technology Center.
For his part, Funk extended thanks to those in attendance at the birthday celebration and he gave reporters what they wanted when he enthusiastically concluded: “I can’t tell you how honored I feel. I’ve had one hell of a good life!”