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Sculpture in park a tribute to four Oak Harbor educators
Pat Hawley has become quite a poet since retiring as a high school drama teacher but finding the right words to express her sentiments Thursday morning wasn’t easy.
Hawley visited Windjammer Park and saw for the first time the sculpture created by Richard Nash that recently was placed in the park in honor of Hawley and three other former Oak Harbor High School educators.
“Isn’t that lovely?” she said, gazing at the abstract sculpture, stonework and other landscaping that surrounds it.
Wallie Funk, the former owner and publisher of the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record and longtime supporter of the arts, donated the sculpture to the City of Oak Harbor. It will be officially dedicated during a ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 3 at the site on the west side of the park.
Funk wanted to recognize the four teachers for the sizable impact he felt they made on students during their tenure at Oak Harbor.
The teachers whose names will be etched on the sculpture include his wife Mary Ann Funk, who passed away in 2008. The others are Trudy Sundberg, Tom Carroll and Hawley.
Hawley is the only one still living.
“This has been done because of the deep caring of a lot of people who admired their contributions,” Funk said. “Every one of them, in addition to being nice people, they left marks in the sand.”
All four taught English at Oak Harbor. Each was noted for their passion for teaching.
Hawley’s career overlapped with the three other honorees.
“They were marvelous people in every way,” she said. “I sound gushy, but it’s really so. They were the kind of teachers who are remembered far after they’re gone. Each one was quite unique and very different from each other.”
Hawley, who lives in Oak Harbor and has won national awards for her poetry, said Funk was a close personal friend who was a strong advocate of women empowering themselves through education. She was appointed a Skagit Valley College Board of Trustees member.
Hawley said she could “go on and on” about Sundberg, who passed away last year.
Sundberg was known for her charismatic way of teaching and her love of literature. A debate coach, she recently had a Whidbey Island lecture series named after her.
Then there was Carroll.
“Tom Carroll, there was no one like him,” Hawley said. “He was a philosopher and a sage and that is unusual in this age. He was very witty. Everyone was in awe of his intellectual background.”
Hawley said Oak Harbor’s faculty during her time there seemed like more of a “college level” staff. She retired in 1998 after 25 years.
“They taught all grades and all levels at a very high standard,” she said.
To be honored in such a way with teachers such as Carroll, Funk and Sundberg is heart warming to Hawley.
“I was surprised and very honored to be among such wonderful teachers, and very humbled,” she said. “I can think of many other teachers who might very well have been in my place instead.
“I like the idea of teachers in general being honored. I hope they do more of that sort of thing. I was so proud to teach at Oak Harbor. We had such a wonderful staff. I have friends there and it seems like the tradition there is continuing.”
Nash also was among Oak Harbor’s high school faculty, retiring as an arts teacher in 2002 before devoting his full attention to abstract art. Funk purchased the sculpture from Nash and for a time kept it at his residence in Anacortes. But he decided he wanted to share it with the public and, in the process, dedicate the work to his wife and three other educators who are dear to him. He became friends with them all.
“I was so proud of these people and what they did as teachers motivating young people,” he said.