Life on Whidbey: Strawbery Tarts have big hearts

  • Wednesday, January 10, 2007 3:00pm
  • Life

The term “Red Hat Society” usually conjures up images of women of a certain age dressed in purple and wearing red hats. Most people don’t know they also have giving hearts.

Oak Harbor’s own STRAWBERRY TARTS chapter of the society had their annual Christmas luncheon prepared by Whidbey Island Golf and Country Club Chef DAN McDONOUGH and his staff. Entertainment was provided by VERN OLSEN, a former Oak Harbor school teacher and founder of the “Shifty Sailors.” He set the room aglow with nostalgic songs of the season and led the women in the singing of traditional Christmas carols.

Strawberry Tarts organizer, LOIS REPOZ, then presented Olsen with a check made out to his favorite charity, “Small Miracles.” Vern and his wife MARTHA were instrumental in the inception of this non-profit organization founded to bring financial aid to needy medical patients.

This 501 (c) (3) charity, inspired by and created along the lines of the South Whidbey-based Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund, currently focuses its efforts in the Coupeville area. Olsen mentioned the need in Oak Harbor for such an organization and several hands shot up from people willing to assist. Olsen’s message touched many hearts and the group responded with generous cash donations.

There are lots of organizations in our community, such as which supports families of special needs children. Maybe you know of others.

I vote that we keep the spirit of this season alive throughout the year and ask for your suggestions of organizations to spotlight. Please call or contact me via e-mail.

Wave for Dave …

Christmas came early for friends and family of DAVE and ARLENE JOHNSON who hosted a beautiful Christmas cruise aboard locally-owned Mystic Sea Charters in Seattle.

The family, complete with daughter JILL, son TRYG and his wife KRISTEN, granddaughter LYDIA and a group of close family and friends glided across Lake Washington listening to Christmas carols and viewing the holiday lights.

But wait! The Johnson family had more to celebrate. Dave used the cruise boat as his platform to announce his planned retirement from Whidbey Island Bank.

“We are all very excited and happy for Dave, but sorry to see his era of community banking come to an end,” said long-time customer GLORIA CAROTHERS.

“I love that he announced his retirement at Christmas time,” said family friend JON BROWN. “You feel almost like you are paying tribute to Oak Harbor’s own version of George Bailey from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’”

Every guest felt honored to be included. Dave thanked his friends and family for all their support and friendship over the years and will be at the bank through early February to say goodbye to his long-time customers.

Candyman can…

He only does it once a year and when it’s over, he begins mentally preparing for the next event.

GENE RICE makes exactly 51 types of cookies and fudge, from bittersweet truffles to chocolate fleck shortbread to apricot fold-ups and mixed nut turtles. They begin coming out of the oven onDec. 1 and are carefully stored in the freezer until Christmas morning’s casual open house.

The retired Navy man also retired as a federal employee from Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment. He and his wife DOROTHY have been inviting friends to stop for a nosh for over 30 years, the only period of interruption coming when his job took them to Sicily for a few years. BILL and MYRNA WILSON, retired ADM. JIM FOXGROVER and KATHY and TONY POPP were among the guests on Dec. 25.

Dorothy has been a Hallmark ornament collector since 1987 when she was inspired by a friend’s 20-foot Christmas tree. Naturally, every room in the house is decorated and she even has a miniature tree honoring her beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.

Twinkling call buttons …

Nurses and support staff working the ward at Whidbey General Hospital over Christmas week kept everyone’s spirits bright. Among them were RN ANDRE from Nova Scotia, the face of tomorrow’s medicine; RN JEANNIE, a dynamo with energy to spare; RN LINDA, whose family includes MARIO, the whistler from Milan; LPN SHELLY, believer in positive thought, energy; LPN ARIEL, focused overachiever; Lab Tech TIM, the guy in the tie; LPN PHIL, for whom medicine is a second career and many others equally important.

Calling the plays were some of Whidbey Island’s most respected physicians. How fortunate we are to have them in our community.

Let’s make this a great year! Call me at 675-6611 or write to

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