Laurin Bernard Zylstra was born to Rance and Ann (Loers) Zylstra in Oak Harbor, Jan. 22, 1923. He joined older brother Don, who had a hard time saying Laurin, so his nickname became “Buddy.” Later it was shortened to Bud and it has been Bud ever since. His childhood memories included swimming at the Freund’s pond and playing at the beach. As he grew, more activities were added: fishing, clamming and hunting remained favorite activities throughout his life.
When it was time to start school, Bud started on his birthday in January. When he was in fourth grade, Oak Harbor school district switched to a fall start and made everyone match that, so Bud liked to joke about taking 1½ years to complete fourth grade. He graduated from Oak Harbor High School with the class of 1941.
Most of his career as a carpenter Bud worked with his brother Don, first with their dad, then as Zylstra Brothers Construction, and later adding nephew Chuck Heller to the team with Winterburn Construction. They worked on many local projects including Victory Homes, the First Reformed Church, NAS Whidbey’s hospital and flight trainer building, and the City Beach windmill. With Winterburn they also traveled around the state building structures at state parks and public restrooms including Ike Kinswa, Steamboat Rock, Beacon Rock, Vantage, Washington Pass, Long Beach Peninsula and Ocean Shores. After retirement he continued building as a volunteer on regional church building projects, helping out friends and neighbors in need, and building/remodeling houses for each of his children.
Bud joined the Army in 1943 and served with the 8th & 9th Army Air Corps Engineers stationed in Europe. He landed at Utah Beach in Normandy just after D-day and worked on airfields. Bud had a memory from the day of his landing he said was “branded in my mind” of a square post with a survey monument on the beach. When he was able to return to France 59 years later he was amazed to see it was still in the same spot.
After being honorably discharged from the Army in 1945, Bud studied drafting at Edison Tech in Seattle (now Seattle Central CC). He then returned to the construction business on the Island. He earned his journeyman’s certificate with the Carpenter’s and Joiner’s Union in October 1946.
Bud served as a volunteer fireman for the city of Oak Harbor from 1942 to 1978. The annual salmon barbecues and driving the truck in the 4th of July parade were always enjoyed, but a highlight of his service was flying to New York with Chief Jim Ronhaar to pick up the new American La France fire truck and driving it cross-country back to Oak Harbor. In more recent years Bud enjoyed serving as a docent at the PBY museum in Oak Harbor. He served his church as an Elder.
Bud and Jo (Johanna Tyhuis) were married June 11, 1948. They were married for 59 years before Jo’s death in 2007. He often said she was the best thing that ever happened to him. Bud was a loving and faithful husband caring for Jo even as she declined from the ravages of Alzheimer’s. It was an opportunity for him to develop skills in the kitchen. His rhubarb cobbler and muffins became popular gifts and he even successfully tried his hand at yeast cinnamon rolls!
Family was everything to Bud. He and Jo parented four children: Sue (Jerry) Brown, Ken (Elizabeth) Zylstra, Laura (Dave) Cummings and Cathy (Joel) Halverson. They enjoyed spending time with their six grandchildren: Kelly Brown, Bradley (Kelsey) Brown, Steve Stuckey, Wes (Olga) Halverson, Russell Halverson and Lauren (Kevin) Eyer. Bud was blessed by great grandchildren Kayla P., Kai, Kayla D., Ryan, Lindy and Ariana. He also appreciated strong relationships with his large extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, nieces and nephews.
Camping and traveling were pastimes the whole family enjoyed. Family backpacking trips took place as the kids got old enough to carry their own gear. Bud and Jo were happy when the family graduated to a travel trailer with a bed off the ground! In retirement they traveled farther afield both in the U.S. and out of the country.
Time took its toll on Bud’s body; after 95 years he was worn out. He was ready to join his heavenly father and reunite with his sweetheart Jo. He had said he was born on the island and wanted to die on the island. He got his wish, dying on June 17, 2018, Father’s Day. His family misses him but cherish their memories and celebrate his life well-lived.
There will be a visitation Thursday, June 28, 2018 at Wallin Funeral Home from 3 -8 p.m. A memorial service in Bud’s honor will take place at First Reformed Church Oak Harbor at 2 p.m. Friday, June 29, 2018 with Pastor Matt Waite presiding. A reception will follow. A private family graveside, at Maple Leaf Cemetery, with military honors will precede the service.