Murder victim mourned by Whidbey friends
October 10, 2011 · Updated 9:38 AM
Many in the Oak Harbor community are mourning the tragic loss of a man known for his generosity to his family and friends.
Ask any of George Lambert’s friends to describe what he was like, and the answer will likely be a version of one common theme: “He would do anything to help someone.”
Larry Ammann said he is still in a state of shock after learning that his close friend was murdered in his home in the afternoon of Oct. 3. Compounding the heartache, George’s own troubled grandson, 30-year-old Joshua Lambert, is accused of the murder, as well as the slaying of his other grandfather, August “Gene” Eisner.
Eisner was originally from California and had moved to Whidbey Island to live with his daughter. His family is holding a private memorial ceremony.
The Oak Harbor Church of the Nazarene is holding a Celebration of Life Service for George Lambert on Thursday, Oct. 13 at 2 p.m.
Lambert was 80 years old when he died and left behind many family and friends in the community. Thanks to George and his progeny, the Lambert name is well known in Oak Harbor and the business community.
“He had gobs of friends in town and everyone loved him,” Ammann said.
Lambert first came to Whidbey Island from California when his painting company won a contract on the Navy base in the 1960s. Oak Harbor developer Bill Massey said Lambert loved the area so much that he moved his wife, Clairine, and their three children to the Pacific Northwest. They finally settled in Oak Harbor in 1972, according to Clairine’s obituary. She passed away in 2009.
Massey said Lambert’s painting company worked for his construction company for 25 years and they became good friends.
“He was just a sweet, gentle man who was absolutely reliable,” Massey said. “He was a family man. His family always came first.”
Ammann said he and his wife moved to Oak Harbor 17 years ago and he immediately hit it off with Lambert.
“He was a dear friend,” he said. “He was one of the best friends I ever had.”
Lambert and Ammann were among a group of men who for years commonly went to breakfast together, often at Henderson’s restaurant. They would talk about family, local events or anything else that came up.
“We always said we had such a good time at breakfast we might as well stay for lunch,” Ammann said.
Oak Harbor resident Steve Walden was a part of the breakfast group and counted Lambert as his friend. He said Lambert was a great pal and always fun to be around.
“He was hard to beat,” Walden said. “Couldn’t ask for a better friend.”
Ammann said he, Lambert and the late Sam Ervin knew each other from the Church of the Nazarene and became close friends. They would go on hunting trips, to auctions or just for a drive.
“He loved to get in his car and find somewhere new to eat,” he said. “We always joked that he knew every restaurant from here to California.”
But Lambert seemed to be happiest when he was helping someone. As his friends explained, he was always willing to jump into action when anyone needed a hand. Ammann tells a story about how his car broke down in Everett and Lambert insisted of driving all the way there to help. Of course, when he got there, Lambert invited his friend to a “real good pizza joint right down the street,” Ammann said.
Ammann said Lambert even bought a car for Ammann’s daughter when she needed help.
“He treated my kids like they were his kids,” he said. “He was a very loving and generous man.”
One of the tragedies of Lambert’s death, Ammann said, is that he would have been the first to help Joshua Lambert if Joshua would have tried to change his ways. He said it seemed that Joshua was in trouble his whole life.
“I think he was demon possessed,” he said. “I honestly do.”
But he’s not worried about Lambert, who lived a long and good life.
“He lived a very godly life and I know where his soul is at,” he said.