Life on Whidbey: Award reflects pro-Navy town

By now you know, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island has been named Installation Excellence Award winner for 2006. Well done, and so deserving for a command that prides itself on offering dozens of sailor-friendly programs, onboard education opportunities and some of the nicest housing on any base, anywhere.

Through the years, countless men and women on and off base have done their part to make NAS Whidbey an outstanding facility. The award belongs to them as well and to these people for their unfailing support:

• The managers who keep their departments functioning on less money and fewer people;

• The loyal civilians who are at NAS Whidbey by choice, even if it means handling more work as bases pare down, regionalize and re-engineer;

• Capt. Steve Black, commanding officer from 2002 to 2004, who managed to affect change in spite of diminishing resources;

• Capt. Syd Abernethy, who is running the air station like a business, which isn’t easy or cheap;

• The people of Oak Harbor who are proud we are a Navy town and support the Navy’s presence;

• Mayor Cohen and members of the City Council who work in harmony with the command;

• The people who involve the Navy in community events, such as the free Thanksgiving dinner each year;

• The small business owners who cut a good deal for the military;

• The wonderful folks at Help House who distribute food baskets to Navy families in need;

• The teachers who reach out to the child who misbehaves when his parent is deployed, and the citizens who campaign for better local schools;

• The cops on the beat, the volunteer firefighters and everyone else who touches the lives of our men and women in uniform for the good, this award rubs off on all of them. The sense of community and teamwork here is alive and well. An award of recognition is just the icing on the cake.

Feet, don’t fail me ...

JOLIE SPADA loves all animals, especially her cats Jack and Tim and Jo Dog. She jumps (well, runs) at the chance to help out Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation, or WAIF.

Although not an experienced marathon runner, she decided to run the Whidbey Marathon on April 2 when she learned it would benefit WAIF. Active and fit, she is constantly on the go as a marketing representative for the Whidbey News-Times and part-time student at Columbia College. She decided the 13-mile half marathon was a more realistic goal than the full 26-mile run. She ran every day, sometimes for five miles, and other days she’d run and walk to train.

She and 1,800 other runners took off the morning of April 2. “I ran when I felt like running, then when my calves would get tight, I’d walk,” she said. “After stretching out again, I’d run.”

She hit mile four in one hour; mile eight in her second hour. “My pace was exactly where I wanted it to be.” At twisty, hilly Madrona Way (mile nine), she mostly walked. “My feet were cramping quite a bit, but I wasn’t going to quit. I had four miles to go.”

True to her commitment, she ran across the finish line. Her time: 3 hours, 24 minutes and 39 seconds. She raised $240 for WAIF through sponsorships and donations.

She is considering the Mount Rainier to the Pacific run, an 11-man team race, and the Seattle Marathon at Thanksgiving. Her commitment is to train harder and beat her time.

“Aside from a few blisters on my feet, I felt great,” she said, “and I’m excited that I accomplished my goal. I know I can do better. Anyone can do it!”

I’d like some ID, please ...

DOROTHY WILCOX of Coupeville celebrated her 85th birthday on March 26 on the Spirit of Washington dinner train. Family members and friends who went along for the ride were daughters GAIL BROWN and DIANE NASH, grandsons MIKE and GLEN THOMPSON and families, ELIZABETH and QUINT RENSHAW, KEN and ANGEL BLANFORD, DR. WAYNE and KELLY TRUSCINSKI and boys, and good neighbors JOY HOWARD and KAY BLANFORD. They all had such a good time, they plan to repeat the event on Dorothy’s 100th in 15 years.

From all around town ...

Members of the Dorothy Neil Coffee Klatch meet every Wednesday at various coffee shops around town. HELEN CHATFIELD-WEEKS, JIM NEIL, MAC BAILEY, WIN and DONNA STITES, HERM EERKES, RIP HARBOUR, DELORES and ADOLPH MEISCH, SID IVERSON and WES WESTLUND have a few laughs, solve world problems and never tire of each other’s company.

Are you spending more time in the garden, awakening to songbirds ahead of the alarm clock? Don’t wait until next year to savor the scent of spring.

I’ll be back here on April 19, but you can call me at (360) 675-6611 or e-mail

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