Harry Marshall LaFayette, aged 87, who resided at Summer Hill Assisted Living in Oak Harbor, Wash., peacefully passed away on Friday, May 19, 2017, at Skagit Valley Hospital. His daughter Marcella and son Mark were present. Also, Marcella’s long-time friend and chaplain, Roberta Winn of Vancouver, Wash., assisted during the vigil.
Harry was born on July 10, 1929, in Baldwin Park, Calif., to Forrest and Jessie LaFayette, now deceased.
At age 17, Harry joined the Navy, and at 18, in February of 1948, married and assumed responsibility for 30-year-old Frances Brown and her three children, Beverley 12, Bobby 10 and Ronnie 6. In February 1951, Harry and Frances were blessed with Mark and in April 1953 Marcella was born.
Harry served in the Navy in La Mesa, Calif.; Barbers Point, Hawaii; and then Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, where he served from 1961 until his retirement in 1966. He took odd jobs until he landed a job as a calibration electrician with the Federal Service in 1970. He retired again in 1984 and chose to retire in Oak Harbor, Wash., where he lived with his wife Frances until she died on Aug. 23, 2011, at age 93.
Harry met, and later married, Betty Ann Johnson on March 3, 2013. Betty passed on Jan. 21, 2017.
Harry had varied hobbies and was talented with his hands. When in Hawaii, he loved to make jewelry out of the many types of native seeds and seed pods. He and Frances also made coconut dolls and gave them as gifts to friends and family. He made a beautiful white silk hula skirt from nylon rope from a parachute — using sailors knots to create the upper portion that sat on the hips.
Harry served as a Scout Master while his son Mark was in the Boy Scouts, spending many hours guiding other scouts, camping and helping Mark earn his merit badges. Harry loved airplanes and boats. He owned several boats, starting with a 16-foot rowboat with a small motor and gradually moved up to a 28-foot wooden cabin cruiser, then settling with a 23-foot Bayliner.
Mark and Marcella were rousted out of bed on many weekends, until they left home, to go fishing with their father or on some adventure with Fran and Harry to one of the nearby San Juan Islands. After the children had left home, Harry and Fran took many trips, one being to Ketchikan, Alaska. Then they graduated from boating to RV’ing and spent many years traveling the United States and Canada. Harry also bought a motorcycle, and he and Fran spent a few years touring on the bike.
Harry and Fran also spent many years with the Whidbey Whirlers, square-dancing their way through Washington and elsewhere. Harry was on the Elks Scholarship Committee for many years, and he and Fran — and later Betty — could be found there on Wednesday fish nights.
Later in life, after Fran entered care for her dementia, Harry picked up on flying miniature aircraft, building them from scratch in his workshop at home, earning an FAA license to fly them at the Whidbey Airport.
He also liked to build model airplanes of all the planes he ever flew while in the Navy. They hung from the ceiling of his workshop and spare bedroom. He was a lover of gadgets and the newest electronics and tech items on the market and was always letting this family and friends know about his latest purchase.
Everyone knew Harry as a great BBQ-er, thrower of great parties and an insatiable flirt. One couldn’t enter a restaurant with him, before he’d have the waitresses blushing and giggling. He had a big heart and was always lending a helping hand whenever needed.
He is, and will be, missed by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
His surviving children are Mark LaFayette of Seattle, Wash.; Marcella LaFayette of Mount Vernon, Wash.; and stepchildren Robert Earl Brown of Union, Wash. and Beverly Brown Bighouse of Seattle, Wash.
His adopted son, Ronald Hugh LaFayette passed in February 2014. He has one surviving sister, Jane Collins, of Glendora, Calif.