Navy League welcomes new president

By Debra Vaughn 

The Oak Harbor Area Council of the Navy League has a new president.

Retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Steve Bristow will lead the organization, which supports and advocates for the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine at the local and national level. He replaces retired Capt. Butch Bailey.

Bristow didn’t volunteer for the job. A selection committee chooses candidates to lead the Navy League. Bristow said the organization’s membership represents “the who’s who of Oak Harbor” and he was humbled by the invitation to serve.

“Hopefully, I will make a good fit, with aspirations to be a bit of an activist president,” he said.

His duties include representing the Navy League at the regional level and providing strategic vision for the area council.

Bristow, a native of Tillamook, Ore., moved to Oak Harbor in 1987 and has since raised three children with his wife, Ranee, a teacher at Oak Harbor Middle School.

Since retiring from the Navy in 2007, he’s remained connected to the military as a local civilian contractor for a large command on the East Coast.

“I still enjoy making a contribution and working alongside our Navy’s great men and women,” he said.

The Navy League is an international organization with more than 40,000 members. It does not represent any particular political affiliation.

The local chapter supports area sailors, especially at such events as the Veteran’s Day program, parades, the military appreciation picnic and the Sea & Shore Sailors and Marine of the Year Luncheon, in which the Navy League serves as a co-sponsor.

The Navy League also supports youth programs. Nationally, the Navy League is working on promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Locally, they support the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs at Oak Harbor and Burlington high schools and the Sea Cadets.

“We believe there is a direct and tangible link to the strength of our country and the status of our sea services,” Bristow said.

Anyone may join who has an interest in the Navy. The more than 300 local members include military retirees as well as community leaders and business people. Around 50 people usually attend the group’s monthly lunches, which feature a guest speaker.

More information is available online at www.oakhar